Michael L. Kent is a Professor of Public Relations in Public Relations and Adverting, School of the Arts and Media, Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture, at UNSW (University of New South Wales) in Sydney.
Kent received his PhD from Purdue University, his MS from the University of Oregon, and his BA from the University of Alaska Fairbanks. Kent conducts research on dialogue, engagement, social media and new technology, theory, international and intercultural communication, and other areas. Kent’s research focuses on the relational and social aspects of dialogue and technology. His examination of new technologies goes back to early search engine technology and has included studies of web communication, blogs, social media, visibility, social network analysis, and other technology focused projects.
Kent’s key scholarly contributions include recognizing the importance of mediated technology to public relations, and advancing dialogic theory as a normative model for enacting ethical and effective public relations. Kent’s academic training in human communication, and rhetorical theory and criticism, provided the critical skills needed to understand the nascent World Wide Web, and to conduct theory building in public relations. Over the last 20-years, dialogic theory has moved from an interesting concept in public relations to one of the central theories guiding research and empirical exploration in the field. Several of Kent’s recent articles have examined an assortment of metaphorical models for thinking about dialogue and engagement and include a Homo-Dialogicus vs. Homo-Economicus approach, a Rhizomatous approach, and using Shiva the Destroyer as a critical model for understanding dialogic theory.
Kent was also one of the first academics to critique the World Wide Web, with his 2001 essay on the metaphor of the World Wide Web that used Sproule’s Managerial Rhetoric as a means of understanding the evolving communication tool.
An active researcher and collaborator, Kent has written more than one hundred articles, chapters, books and other documents, and delivered more than a hundred conference papers and professional presentations.
A Fulbright scholar (Latvia, 2006), Kent has also lectured extensively internationally (Australia, China, New Zealand, Italy, etc.) and taught graduate and undergraduate courses in both Latvia and in Prague.
In terms of his teaching areas, Kent has taught virtually all of the basic public relations courses (Campaigns, Cases, Introduction, Management, Publication, Writing, Advanced Writing, etc.) and many communication courses (interpersonal, intercultural, small group, public speaking, etc.). Over his career, he has taught more than 20 different undergraduate courses and 20 different graduate courses, having taught at more than 10 different universities during his career. Kent has twice served as Chair of the Public Relations Division of the National Communication Association, was graduate advisor for five years in the Department of Communication Studies at Montclair State University in New Jersey, course coordinator of several courses (Public Relations Writing, Publications, etc.) for more than a decade, and has worked extensively on curriculum development.
Kent also has extensive service and administrative experience spanning more than 20-years at all levels of the academy.
Public Relations, Dialogic Communication, New Technology/Social Media/Mediated Communication, International Communication, Issues Management, Crisis, Academic Communities, Communication Ethics, Thanatology/Eschatology
2019 Top Paper: Mahin, S., & Kent, M. L. (2019, November). “When Sorry Isn’t Sorry, When Public Relations Isn’t Public Relations: ‘Faux Crises’ as an Evolution of the Crisis Genre.” Competitive paper delivered to the 105th Annual Convention of the National Communication Association (NCA), Theme: Communication for Survival, Public Relations Division, Baltimore, Maryland.
2012 Top Paper: Sommerfeldt, E. J., & Kent, M. L., (June 2012). A Network Approach to Measuring Organization–Public Relationships: How Relationship Quality Affects Network Centrality. Competitive paper accepted to the 2012 meeting of the International Communication Association (ICA), Public Relations Division, Phoenix, AZ.2011
Top Paper: Kent, M. L., Taylor, M., & Veil, S. R. (April, 2011). Issues management makeover: A facelift for an aging theory. Competitive Paper delivered to the 22nd Annual Meeting of the International Academy of Business Disciplines (IABD), New Orleans, Louisiana 2010
Top Paper: Taylor, M., & Kent, M. L. (November 2010). “Explicating a Broader Role of Public Relations in Society: Reconciling the Functional and Co-Creational Approaches.” Competitive paper accepted to the 2010 meeting of the National Communication Association, Public Relations Division, San Francisco, California.
2008 Top Paper: Kent, M. L. (November 2008). “The Dialogic Turn in Public Relations: Toward a Theory of Dialogic Practice.” Competitive paper accepted to the 2008 meeting of the National Communication Association, Public Relations Division, San Diego, California.
2007 Top Paper: McAllister, S. M. & Kent, M. L. (November, 2007). “Dialogic Communication and Resource Dependency: Community Colleges as Models for Web Site Effectiveness.” Competitive paper delivered to the 2007 meeting of the National Communication Association, Public Relations Division, Chicago, Illinois.
Spring 2006, UNIVERSITY OF LATVIA, RIGA LATVIA
Fulbright Scholar, Department of Communication, Faculty of Journalism