On the occasion of its annual congress 2023, the European Public Relations Education and Research Association (EUPRERA), a body of academic institutions, researchers, and senior professionals in the field of public relations and strategic communication with 550 members from 51 countries, has awarded authors for their excellent research in the field. EUPRERA Best Paper Awards were given to the authors of the three papers with the highest rankings in a two-stage, blind peer-review process performed by a scientific committee of renowned international scholars, headed by Professor Chiara Valentini from Jyväskylä University, Finland.
Professor Ansgar Zerfass and Daniel Ziegele (University of Leipzig) received the Best Paper Award for their full paper "Trend Research in Communication Management: Introducing an Interdisciplinary Approach Based on Futures Research Methodology," which they co-authored with Sünje Clausen and Professor Stefan Stieglitz from the University of Potsdam.
The head of the scientific committee praised the work, saying, "This paper proposes an integrative approach for future research in public relations and communication management. The methodological approach integrates insights from research developments in society, management, and technology and integrates insights from professionals. There is a nice dialectical engagement between theory and practice-based experiences which positions this work as one highly commented for its practical implications and contribution in expanding our knowledge for conducting formative research. Overall, the paper suggests an innovative integrative methodological perspective that can become an important practical toolkit for professionals and their research efforts in identifying key trends.“
The academic paper is a result of the interdisciplinary research project "Communications Trend Radar" by the Institute of Communication and Media Studies (Chair of Strategic Communication) at Leipzig University and the Faculty of Business Administration (Chair of Business Information Systems and Digital Transformation) at the University of Potsdam since 2020. The project has so far identified 15 relevant trends for corporate communications, which have been described in three annual reports. Several thousand downloads of the 2021–2023 annual reports, debates on the results in trade publications and presentations in management circles, as well as several internal projects initiated by communications departments of blue-chip companies, are proof of the project's major impact in the industry. The project has also opened up new avenues for academic research. To date, five research projects at four different universities have examined the identified trends in greater detail, resulting in various conference papers and journal publications. At least two master theses have been inspired by the ideas outlined. Due to this success, funding for the research project was recently extended through 2025.
The Communications Trend Radar project is funded by the Academic Society for Management & Communication, the leading corporate communications think tank in Europe. Founded in 2012 as an initiative of universities and communications executives, the Academic Society brings together business and academic leaders to further professionalize the field through knowledge transfer and cutting-edge research. Today, it is supported by six professors, four universities and 45 global companies from the German-speaking countries.