The book, A Strategic Nature: Public Relations and the Politics of American Environmentalism, by SC&I Professor of Journalism and Media Studies and Director of the Ph.D. Program Melissa Aronczyk and Rutgers Ph.D. (Sociology) Maria I. Espinoza, has been selected by the Political Communication Division of the National Communication Association as the winner of the 2023 Roderick P. Hart Outstanding Book Award.
“We’re so grateful to the division for this honor,” Aronczyk said.
The authors will receive the award during the annual NCA Convention being held in National Harbor, Maryland, from November 16-19, 2023.
Dannagal Young, chair of the NCA Political Communication Division awards committee and professor of Communication at the University of Delaware, said, “The committee so appreciated the book’s rich contribution at the intersection of public relations and political communication. ‘A Strategic Nature’ highlights the importance of tertiary actors and entities that exert influence on elites, the media, and the public.”
This is the second NCA award A Strategic Nature has received. In 2022, the book was awarded the NCA Public Relations Division’s Outstanding Book Award.
“Melissa’s important scholarship has attracted a lot of interest as it contributes to our understanding of one of the most important areas of our times, so we are thrilled that the book is being recognized in this prestigious way! As the Director of our Ph.D. Program, this award will also inspire our graduate students to make a difference with their own research,” said SC&I Interim Dean and Distinguished Professor of Journalism and Media Studies Dafna Lemish.
Published by Oxford University Press in January 2022, A Strategic Nature “offers an as-yet untold account of the promotional agents who have influenced public perception of the environment since the beginning of the twentieth century; provides new insights on sustainability communication and lessons on how to deal with climate change misinformation and denial; and includes archival material that has never been published before for a behind-the-scenes look at how the public relations industry works,” according to the publisher’s website.
Aronczyk's current research and teaching address issues related to media and political communication; climate disinformation and greenwashing; media theory; critical methodologies; promotional cultures; and writing as craft and as profession.
She is the recipient of a Climate Social Science Network grant (2021-2023) to critically inquire into the mobilization of industrial influence resources and their bearing on collective decision-making around climate change action in the United States. This two-year project combines theoretical perspectives on elite political and communication networks and the nature of influence with empirical research on interorganizational dynamics and public promotional/advocacy activities among corporate, government and non-governmental actors.