Professor Lee Edwards

Professor Lee Edwards

Professor of Strategic Communications and Public Engagement, Deputy Head of Department (Education)

Department of Media and Communications

+44 20 7107 5248
Room No
FAW 6.01E
Connect with me

English, German
Key Expertise
critical public relations, promotional culture, deliberation and copyright

About me

Please note Professor Edwards will be on sabbatical and research leave during Winter, Spring and Autumn Terms 2025. See term dates.

Lee Edwards is Professor of Strategic Communications and Public Engagement in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE, where she also serves as Deputy Head of Department (Education) and Programme Director for the MSc Strategic Communications (retitled MSc Strategic Communications and Society from 2024/25 onwards).

She teaches and researches strategic communications from a socio-cultural perspective, focusing in particular on how power operates in and through public relations work. She also explores the ways in which public engagement, as a form of strategic communication, can extend and enhance citizen participation, particularly in relation to aspects of media policy such as copyright.  Her PhD (Leeds Metropolitan University) was a Bourdieuvian analysis of the public relations profession focusing on the ways in which it exercised symbolic power within organisations as well as in wider society. She has a BSc in Linguistics and International Studies (University of Surrey), and MPhil in Management and Labour Relations (University of Auckland).

Professor Edwards is the author of Understanding Public Relations: Theory, Culture and Society (Sage, 2018); Power, Diversity and Public Relations (Routledge, 2014); and Understanding Copyright (with Dr Bethany Klein and Dr Giles Moss, Sage, 2015). She is co-editor of Public Relations, Society and the Generative Power of History (Routledge, 2019) and of Public Relations, Society and Culture: Theoretical and Empirical Explorations (Routledge, 2011). She has published numerous journal articles and book chapters, and is a regular contributor to the field’s disciplinary conferences.

Professor Edwards was the Secretary of the International Communication Association PR Division (2014-16) and won an ICA Environmental Communication Division Top Faculty paper award in 2020 for the paper ‘Gender and Climate Change Communications Practices: Pilot Research in Two Communities in Rural Kenya’, co-authored with Chris Paterson, Jacinta Mwende Maweu, Lata Narayanaswamy, & Silas O. Oriaso. She also won an ICA Communication Policy Division Top Paper award in 2013, with co-authors Giles Moss, Bethany Klein, Fiona Philip and David Lee, for the paper ‘Justifying Copyright: Discourse, Legitimation and Critique’. She was a regional editor for the Journal of Communication from 2016-18 and a co-editor of PR Inquiry from 2014-2018. She is a reviewer for a wide range of journals including Management Communication Quarterly; Consumption, Markets and Culture; Media, Culture and Society; The Journal of Professions and Organisations, and New Media and Society.

Before she joined academia, Professor Edwards worked for six years as a PR professional in New Zealand and the UK, specialising in technology PR and providing consultancy services to a wide range of organisations, including Microsoft. 

View CV (PDF)

Expertise Details

promotional culture; diversity; inequality and PR; PR as a professional field; young people; PR; voice; recognition; PR and democracy; copyright policy and discourse; postcolonial and decolonial analyses of PR


As a critical scholar, Professor Edwards' primary focus is on the operation of power in and through PR, both within the occupational field and in wider society.  She is particularly interested in the relationship between public relations, different forms of inequality, its contribution to democracy and its impact on social justice. She draws on a wide range of theory in her work, from Bourdieuvian sociology and deliberative theory, to critical race theory and the sociology of the professions, in order to understand how public relations shapes both the world we inhabit and how we interpret our place within that world.

In her search to find ways of understanding public relations beyond the organisational context, Professor Edwards has made a number of different theoretical contributions to the field, including new interpretations of public relations as an object of research, conceptualisations of public relations’ role in globalization, public relations as a cultural industry and as cultural intermediation. She has led or participated in a number of funded empirical research projects focused on diversity in public relations (ESRC grant 000-22-3143), digital communication and social action (EPSRC/CCN+ RG.COMM.484688), the communication of copyright (ESRC grant RES 062-23-3027), the use of social media as a public relations tool by feminist activist groups and by young people in the UK. She has published widely on her empirical work, arguing for a more radical approach to improving diversity in public relations, as well as for a more robust understanding of public relations as a cultural industry and practitioners as cultural intermediaries. In her current writing, she explores the ways in which public relations serves democracy and social justice for young people and marginalised groups.

Alongside her focus on public relations, Professor Edwards has conducted research on the ways in which copyright is promoted, talked about and understood by creative industries, artists / creators, activists and users. This work, conducted with colleagues Giles Moss and Bethany Klein at the University of Leeds and funded by the ESRC (grant RES 062-23-3027) and CREATe (AHRC Grant Number AH/K000179/1), has delivered insights into how the process of making copyright policy could be more inclusive and democratic, ultimately leading to a more robust and widely accepted copyright regime. The work is ongoing and forms a major part of her current interests.



  • Edwards, L. (2018). Understanding public relations: Theory, culture, society. London: SAGE.
  • Klein, B., Moss, G. & Edwards, L. (2015). Understanding copyright: Intellectual property in the digital age. London: Sage.
  • Edwards, L. (2014). Power, diversity and public relations. London: Routledge.
  • Edwards, L. & Hodges, C. (Eds) (2011). Public relations, society and culture: Theoretical and empirical explorations. London: Routledge.


Other publications

View a comprehensive list of Dr Edwards' publications.

Teaching and supervision

Postgraduate teaching

Professor Edwards is Programme Director for the MSc Strategic Communications. She also convenes and teaches on the popular postgraduate courses Critical Approaches to Strategic Communications and Strategic Communication in Practice: Professional Perspectives. She has also contributed lectures to team-taught graduate-level Media and Communications courses relating to theories and concepts and research methodologies.

Doctoral supervision

Professor Edwards supervises doctoral researchers and welcomes applications from prospective candidates relating to her areas of research.