Professor Ralph Tench is Director of Research at Leeds Business School, Leeds Beckett University, with responsibility for the research strategy for over 150 academics representing accounting and finance, strategy and economics, marketing, communications, public relations, journalism, leadership and human resource management. Professor Tench has led the Business School’s recent Research Excellence Framework (REF) submission to Research England.
Dr Tench is the former subject head for public relations and communication at Leeds Beckett University, where for 10 years he oversaw the expansion of the undergraduate, postgraduate and professional course portfolio. As professor he teaches on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes, as well as supervising MA and PhD research students. His current focus is on developing and delivering major research projects in public relations and strategic communication in the UK and worldwide. He was the principal investigator for the first and largest EU public relations funded programme, the ECOPSI (European Communications Practitioners Skills and Innovation) programme. This project explored the education, skills and competency needs of European communication practitioners (www.ecopsi.org.uk). The three-year project contributed to competency frameworks for communications and the production of self-diagnostic tools (www. p4ace.org). This research builds on another international longitudinal research project (that celebrated its tenth year in 2016) funded by European bodies and private sector business, the European Communication Monitor (ECM) survey. The ECM (www. communicationmonitor.eu) is the largest transnational survey of public relations and strategic communication worldwide. It is a qualitative and quantitative trend survey of European communications directors using a sample of over 3000 practitioners from 46 countries each year. In 2020 the project expanded to a Global Communication Monitor Series with studies now in North America, Latin America and Asia Pacific regions. Reflecting the breadth of his research experience and application, Professor Tench directed another European-funded project exploring deliberative engagement and working in the SME sector (smeengagement. eu) as well as supporting research projects such as the Public Health England Whole Systems Obesity multi-disciplinary project.
Professor Tench is a past external examiner for many UK and European universities, as well as a visiting professor. His doctoral students are engaged in research on issues of strategic communication related to trust, responsibility, reputation and branding, health communication and relationship management. He also supervises students on issues of professionalisation and the development of the public relations discipline. He has chaired over 30 PhD examinations and sat on panels for candidates in the UK, South Africa, Hungary, Ireland, Australia, Slovenia and Denmark. Professor Tench is the past President (2017–2020) of the European Public Relations Research and Education Association (EUPRERA) and has been a member of the Board of Directors for the association since 2013. He is also past head of the Scientific Committee for the Annual Congress (2009–2015). He is a member of the International Communication Association (ICA) and sits on the editorial board for the Journal of Communication Management, the Journal of Further and Higher Education, Corporate Communications: An International Journal, Public Relations Review, Journal of Public Affairs and the International Journal of Strategic Communication.
Ralph is a regular guest and keynote speaker at academic and practitioner conferences and his research has been published and disseminated in over 200 books and journals worldwide. Previous editions of Exploring Public Relations have been translated into several European languages. Dr Tench has edited two volumes on his research interests in corporate social responsibility with Emerald – Corporate Social Irresponsibility: A challenging concept (2013), Communicating Corporate Social Responsibility (2014) and The Critical State of Corporate Social Responsibility in Europe (2018). In 2017 he published Communication Excellence: How to develop, manage and lead an exceptional communication department, a book based on an empirical evaluation of 10 years of ECM data.
Stephen Waddington is a business adviser and troubleshooter who helps organisations with planning, strategic decision making and execution. He is the Founder and Managing Partner of Wadds Inc., a professional advisory firm.
Stephen was previously managing director at Metia Group (2019 and 2020), an international digital marketing agency. It creates high-performance campaigns using research, content, demand and earned media. His clients included Amazon, BMW, Capita, Salesforce and Microsoft.
He was Chief Engagement Officer at Ketchum (2012 to 2018), an Omnicom-owned agency, responsible for driving the integration of digital and social capabilities in client engagements across the agency’s international network. He provided lead senior counsel on integrated global accounts including IBM, IKEA and Phillips.
His role at Ketchum included change agent, ambassador and thought leader for the agency on modern forms of engagement and public relations practice. This included leveraging tools, resources and best practice from across the global network for all client engagements.
Stephen has held the role of Visiting Professor in Practice at Newcastle University since 2015, supporting the university and students through teaching and mentoring. He is also an external examiner for CIPR, the UK professional body for PR practitioners.
He is co-author of #BrandVandals (Bloomsbury, November 2013) and Brand Anarchy (Bloomsbury, February 2012), plus editor and contributor to Platinum (CIPR, September 2018), Share This (Wiley, July 2012) and Share This Too (Wiley, September 2013); in addition to editor of Chartered Public Relations: Lessons from Expert Practitioners (Kogan Page, February 2015).
Stephen wrote the foreword for the first two editions of #FuturePRoof, a community founded by Sarah Waddington aimed at reasserting the value of public relations. This follows the crowdsourced model that he established through #PRstack.
He was President of the CIPR in 2014, during which time he helped return the organisation to its roots of professionalism as set out in its Royal Charter. He is the former chairman of its Artificial Intelligence panel and Social Media panel. The two groups have led the characterisation of machines and social media on marketing and PR practice, the media and conversation in the public sphere.
Stephen originally trained as a journalist before following a career in public relations. He co-founded, managed and sold two award-winning public relations agencies, Rainier PR in 1998 and Speed in 2009.
At Speed, Stephen led the merger of three public relations agencies to develop a modern proposition, service model and workflow. Clients included The Associated Press, Optical Express, The Economist, Symantec, uSwitch for Business and Virgin Media Business.
Rainier PR was a technology PR agency founded in 1998 focused on technology expertise and a senior client service model. Clients included ARM, ntl (now Virgin Media Business), Toshiba and Wind River (now Intel). In 2017 Stephen received the PRCA’s outstanding contribution to digital public relations.
Stephen has been named a top 10 UK public relations blogger by Vuelio for the last three years. He is a Chartered PR Practitioner, a CIPR Fellow (Hon), and a Fellow of the PRCA.