Date of Award


Document Type

Master Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Arts


Media Communications

First Advisor

Mr. Emmet Coffey

Second Advisor

Dr. Gearóid 0' Suilleabhain


This study is concerned with the important role of internal communication (IC) as a driver of employee engagement and investigates how public relations (PR) might be best placed to advise on and oversee a system of managed or strategic communication within an organisation.

The literature reveals that a communications culture must pervade an organisation for effective communication to take place. Whilst early models leaned towards a predominant one-way transmission of communication, we are now witnessing a paradigm shift to a horizontal two-way system of communication and engagement.

The research methodology employed in this study was a qualitative case study which utilised focus groups and semi-structured interviews as a basis for primary data collection. A central theme examined growing evidence that organisations perform more efficiently and function more effectively where employees are engaged. Communication can help motivate, build trust, create shared identity and spur engagement. Using Cork Institute of Technology (CIT) as a case study, the study examined how internal communications could contribute to fostering a culture of listening and engagement in a large third level educational institution in Ireland.

Research findings conclude that employees in CIT want to be part of a communicative and participatory organisation which fosters engagement and consultation. There is substantial evidence to suggest that CIT could benefit from having a strategic internal communications function within the institute.

This study recommends that the management of the institute embrace strategic internal employee communications as a vital and effective means to engage employees. Internal communications, managed from the PR perspective of a two-way symmetrical dialogic model of engagement, can lead to the building of a communications culture to the benefit of the whole organisation. Researching and listening to employees provides the starting point.


Submitted to the Cork Institute of Technology in part fulfilment of the requirements for the MA in Public Relations with New Media.

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