Are the spin doctors a figure of priority interest for public relations?


  • Sandra Vilajoana Alejandre Universitat Ramon Llull and Universitat Oberta de Catalunya
  • Toni Aira Universitat Pompeu Fabra


This research has a twofold goal: on the one hand, it describes, from a theoretical point of view, the importance of the figure and role of the spin doctors, also known as communication political advisers, from the perspective of public relations; and by another, the article analyses quantitatively and qualitatively, the presence and treatment of the figure of the spin doctor in the main academic journals included in the Journal Citation Reports in the fields of communication, public relations and political communication from de point of view of public relations discipline. The results of the research confirm the notable influence of public relations in the origin, definition and professional activity of spin doctors. By contrast, this study shows the low presence of the spin doctor concept in the academic literature, although the articles analysed confirm the importance of this figure from the point of view of public relations.


Download data is not yet available.

Author Biographies

Sandra Vilajoana Alejandre, Universitat Ramon Llull and Universitat Oberta de Catalunya

Lecturer and Internship Coordinator 

Blanquerna School of Communication and International Relations

Ramon Llull University

Toni Aira, Universitat Pompeu Fabra

Adjunct Lecturer

Communication School

Pompeu Fabra University


Aira, T. (2011). Los guardianes del mensaje. Asesores políticos. Un modelo alternativo a los spin doctors anglosajones. Barcelona: UOC.

Andrews, L. (2006). Spin: from tactic to tabloid. Journal of Public Affairs. 6(1) 31–45.

Baines, P.; Egan, J.; Jefkins, F. (2003). Public relacions: contemporary issues and techniques. Boston: Elsevier Butterworth-Heineman.

Bardhan, N.; Weaber, C.K. (ed.). (2011). Public relations in global cultural context: multi-paradigmatic perspectives. New York: Routledge.

Beas, D. (2011). La reinvención de la política. Barcelona: Península.

Blumenthal, S. (1980). The Permanent Campaign. New York: Simon and Schuster.

Brown, W.J.; Vincent, R.C. (1995). Trading Arms for Hostages? How the Government and Print Media “Spin” Portrayals of the United States Policy Toward Iran. Political Communication, 12(1), 65-79.

Campbell, A. (2002). The seeds of spin. British Journalism Review XIII, 4, 15–23.

Castells, M. (2010). Comunicació i poder. Barcelona: UOC Press.

Craig, G. (2003). Living With Spin: Political and Media Relations in Mediated Public Life. Southern Review: Communication, Politics & Culture, 36 (3), 82-91.

De Vreese, C.H.; Elenbaas, m. (2009). Spin doctors in the spotlight: Effects of strategic press and publicity coverage on perceptions of political PR. Public Relations Review, 35(3), 294-296.

Downes, E. J. (1998). Hacks, Flacks, and Spin Doctors Meet the Media: An Examination of the Congressional Press Secretary as a (Potential) Public Relations Professional. Journal of Public Relations Research, 10 (4), 263-286.

Esser, F.; Reinemann, C.; Fan, D. (2000). Spin doctoring in British and German Election Campaigns: How the Press is Being Confronted with a New Quality of Political PR. European Journal of Communication, 15(2), 209-239.

Ewen, S. (1996). PR! A social history of spin. Nueva York: Basic Books, HarperCollins.

Gaber, I. (2000). Government by spin: an analysis of the process. Media, Culture & Society, 22(4), 507–518.

Grunig, J.E. Hunt, T. (2003). Dirección de Relaciones Públicas. Barcelona: Gestión 2000.

Heath, R.L. (ed.). (2011). The SAGE Handbook of Public Relations. 2n ed. SAGE Publications.

Hiebert, R. E. (2005). Commentary: new technologies, public relations, and democracy. Public Relations Review, 31(1), 1-9.

Jones, N. (1992). Election ’92. Londres: BBC Books.

– (1995). Soundbites and spin doctors. Londres: Cassell

– (1997). Campaign 1997. Londres: Indigo.

Kurtz, H. (1998): Spin Cycle: Inside the Clinton Propaganda Machine. New York: Free Press.

Lilleker, D.G. (2006). Key Concepts in Political Communication. London: Sage.

L’Etang, J. (2009). Relaciones públicas: conceptos, práctica y crítica. Barcelona: UOC.

Mancini, P. (1999). New Frontiers in Political Professionalism. Political Communication, 16, 231-241.

Martín Salgado, L. (2002). Marketing político. Arte y ciencia de la persuasión en democracia. Barcelona: Paidós.

Miller, D., & Dinan, W. (2000). The Rise of the PR Industry in Britain, 1979-98. European Journal of Communication, 15(1), 5–35.

Moloney, K. (2000): Rethinking Public Relations: The Spin and the Substance. London: Routledge.

– (2001): «The rise and fall of spin: Changes of fashion in the presentation of UK politics», Journal of Public Affairs, 1(2), 124–135.

Muñoz–Alonso, A. y Rospir, J. I. (1995): Comunicación Política. Madrid: Editorial Universitas.

– (1999): Democracia mediática y campañas electorales. Barcelona: Ariel Comunicación.

Pitcher, G. (2002): The Death of Spin. London: John Wiley.

Rawnsley, A. (2001). Servants of the People. London: Penguin Group.

– (2010). The end od the party. London: Viking.

Routledge, P. (2007). Meeting spin with spin. British Journalism Review, 18(1), 29–33.

Saussez, T. (1985). Politique seduction: comment les hommes politiques arrivent–t–ils à vous plaire. Paris: Editions Jean–Claude Lattès.

– (1988). Le Challenger. Paris: Editions Jean–Claude Lattès.

– (1990). Nous sommes ici par la volonté des médias. Paris: Robert Laffont.

– (1994). A la table des politiques. Paris: Editions Plon.

– (1997). Le temps des ventriloques: médias, sondages et marionnettes menacent–ils la démocratie. Paris: Editions Belfond.

– (1999): Le pouvoir des mentors: petit manuel à destination de tous ceux qui s'intéressent aux coulisses de la vie politique et des campagnes électorales. Paris: Editions N°1.

Strömbäck, J.; Kiousis, S. (ed.). (2011). Political public relations: principles and applications. New York: Routledge.

Sumpter, R., Tankard, J.W. (1994). The Spin Doctor: An Alternative Model of Public Relations. Public Relations Review, 20 (1), 19-27.

Thompson, J. B. (1995). The media and modernity. A social theory of the media. Cambridge: Polity Press.

Tye, L. (1998). The father of spin. Edward L. Bernays & the bith of public relations. New York: Crown Publishers.

van Dalen, A., Albæk, E., & de Vreese, C. (2011). Suspicious minds: Explaining political cynicism among political journalists in Europe. European Journal of Communication, 26(2), 147–162.

Xifra, J. (2001). Relacions Públiques i comunicació política. Bellaterra: Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona. Facultat de Ciències de la Comunicació. Departament de Periodisme i Ciències de la Comunicació, 2001. [Tesis doctoral].

– (2003). Teoría y estructura de las relaciones públicas. Madrid: McGraw-Hill.

– (2005). “Relaciones Públicas proactivas: el modelo de la Gestión de Conflictos Potenciales”. En: Castillo Esparcia, A. (coord.). (2005) Comunicación organizacional. Teorías y estudios. Málaga: Clave Aynadamar.

– (2007). Tècniques de les relacions publiques. Barcelona: UOC.

Wilcox, D.; Cameron, G.T.; Xifra, J. (2006). Relaciones públicas: estrategias y tácticas. Madrid: Pearson.

Zamora Medina, R. (2009). El candidato marca: cómo gestionar la imagen del líder político. Madrid: Fragua.