PR Researchers and Practitioners Meet at IPRRC


Lise Michaud

The 20th annual meeting of the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) is taking place in Orlando until this Saturday. As Sean Williams, owner of Communication AMMO, explained in a recent interview, the IPRRC Conference is all about discussion, where reseachers and practitioners talk with each other. The Conference focuses entirely on public relations research from a variety of perspectives—theoretical, experimental, case study, survey, participant- observation, measurement, pedagogical, etc. “PR” is used here as inclusively as possible, therefore organizational, internal and employee communication are part of the agenda. Between Thursday, March 9 and Saturday, March 11, more than 100 PR research will be discussed. Each day, we'll publish the research discussion paper abstracts that will be discussed over the day. You can follow the Conference on Twitter via #IPRRC, and on Facebook.

Don W. Stacks, Ph.D, Executive Director, CEO, Board of Director IPRRC, University of Miami,

launched the 20th annual meeting of the International Public Relations Research Conference earlier today.

Research Discussion Paper Abstraits to be discussed today

Perceived Motivations for Corporate CSR in Socially Stigmatized Industries

Lucinda L. Austin, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and Barbara Miller Gaither, Elon University

This CSR study explores how company-cause relationships and acknowledgement of benefit impacts perceived motivations and skepticism. Low-fit CSR appeared to be more in the public’s interest and more values-driven than high-fit. Acknowledgement of benefit did not impact skepticism—for a socially-stigmatized company, CSR fit appears most fundamental to public response.

“We’re Just Better at It”: How Activists Use the Internet to Challenge Corporations

Chelsea L. Woods, University of Kentucky Using issues management, this paper examines how activists use the Internet, focusing primarily on social media, to challenge corporations. Data collected from interviews with activist practitioners shows how these individuals use the channel to identify target firms, spur and sustain interest in issues, and organize actions to achieve their goals.

María E. Len-Ríos Communicating wellness plans to employees... PRIME Research award winner

Communicating Employee Wellness Plans to Employees: The Effects of Gain-Loss Framing and Message Source on Intentions to Enroll [PRIME Research Award]

María E. Len-Ríos, Hyoyeun Jun, and Yen-I Lee, University of Georgia

This study examines message design strategies companies can use to encourage employees to join wellness programs. Such programs have been shown to reduce absenteeism, improve productivity, and reduce healthcare costs (Berry, Mirabito, & Baun, 2010). Results from a 2 (message framing) x 2 (image) x control experiment suggests gain-framed messages increased enrollment intentions.

Tsuyoshi (Yoshi) Oshita Risk Communicators’ Dilemma—Should I Say It or Not?

Communicators’ Dilemma—Should I Say It or Not? : Effects of Communicating Emergency

Response Preparedness on Public Attitudes and Acceptance Toward Nuclear Power Stations

Tsuyoshi (Yoshi) Oshita, Michigan State University This study explores risk communicators’ dilemma: Should they proactively inform the public of risk-related information about their facilities and activities? Focusing on the commercial use of nuclear power, I examined the effects of emergency preparedness communication on public attitudes and acceptability toward the risk-generating facilities.

Extending the Relational Public Diplomacy Model: The Role of Foreign Policy in Communicating about the Syrian Refugee Crisis Nur Uysal, Marquette University, and Rhonda Zaharna, American University

Despite its increasing importance, migration and refugee studies have been rarely addressed in the public diplomacy scholarship. This study addresses this gap by focusing on the nexus of non-state diplomacy, state foreign policy and asylum/ migration policies. The study examines how foreign policy and public diplomacy generate shifts in communication tactics and relational dynamics.

Yusuke Ibuki Three Ways to Bring Them Up as Communication Executives

Three Ways to Bring Them Up as Communication Executives: A Conceptual Study

Yusuke Ibuki, San Diego State University, and Kyoto Sangyo University, Japan If conceptual skill (Katz, 1955) matters for communication executives, how can they obtain this skill? To answer this research question, I propose three ways to bring them up as communication executives: formal education, introducing the “dual ladder” system in public relations human relations management, and job rotation.

Ashley Stevens National Tragedies as Promotion Messages

National Tragedies as Promotion Messages: Using Remembrance of Pearl Harbor, 9/11 and Natural Disasters to Influence Publics Jensen Moore and Ashley Stevens, University of Oklahoma This study employed a 2 (type of tragedy: man-made vs. natural disaster) X 5 (type of message: commercial, image, participation, patriotic, and public interest) within-subjects experimental design. Dependent variables included mood during viewing, attitude toward the message, perception of the organization, and behavioral intent including likelihood of boycott and purchase.

PhD Student Emiliana Pomarico Ribeiro New Context, New PR and New Narratives

New Context, New PR and New Narratives

Paulo Nassar, Emiliana Pomarico Ribeiro, and Gustavo Carbonaro, University of São Paulo, Brazil

We live in the age of urgency and uncertainty, which leads us to the absence of narratives that bring meaning to our lives. Those new contexts require new PR professional profiles to create new narratives, with new technologies and new ways of feeling and being in the world.

Marcia DiStaso discussing ​Trends in Purpose: How Companies are Changing the World by Doing Good

Trends in Purpose: How Companies are Changing the World by Doing Good

Marcia DiStaso, Pennsylvania State University

This study identifies trends in companies that are trying to change the world. The analysis looks at sectors (Energy; Financials; Food; Health Care; Hotels, Restaurants and Leisure; Industrials; Retailing; Technology), impact segments (Economic Opportunity/Financial Inclusion; Education/Discovery; Environmental Impact; Human Rights/Social Justice; Public Health/Nutrition) and communication tools (traditional and social).

Peggy Simcic Brønn Drivers and Barriers in Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation

Drivers and Barriers in Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation: Analyzing Effects on Behavior Alexander Buhmann and Peggy Simcic Brønn, Norwegian Business School, Norway

We investigate practitioners’ attitudes about measuring and evaluation through Ajzen’s (1985) theory of planned behavior (TPB), which states that a person’s intention to perform a behavior increases as their attitude toward the behavior becomes more favorable. Variance-based structural equation modeling (PLS-SEM) is used to link intention to measure at the outcome level to respondents’ attitudes toward M&E, their perception of norms for M&E and their perceived behavior control. Attitudes toward M&E and perceptions of personal ability are the two strongest factors influencing practitioners.

Donors & Authenticity: An Examination of An Ethical Conceptualization in the Nonprof it Sector

Diana C. Sisson, Auburn University

Using an online survey and qualitative analysis, this study tests Bowen’s (2010) conceptualization of authenticity among donors of local animal welfare organizations and offers practical insights for nonprofit organizations regarding its inclusion in their relationship management strategies.

Struggling for Academic Legitimacy. A German Perspective on Public Relations and the Gap between Profession and Academic Discipline Michael Johann and Anne-Christin Hoffmann, University of Passau, Germany

Download the study here

Public Relations has always been a heterogeneous professional field with changing demands in education and practice. This complementary mixed-method study examines the status quo of PR education at German universities in comparison to contemporary requirements of the professional field. The content analyses of job advertisements(N = 188) and university curricula (N = 107) as well as the interviews with young professionals (N = 180) and leading PR practitioners (N = 27) indicate an insufficient integration of academic and professional perspectives on public relations education.

The Evolution of Online Activism and Corporate Social Responsibility: In-Depth Interviews with the Experts Sasha Dookhoo, PAN Communications, and Melissa Dodd, University of Central Florida

This research explores the role of online activism and the ways companies are engaging in—or are pressured into—corporate social responsibility (CSR) by online activists. In-depth interviews with PR professionals who have served in CSR roles provides context for how activists may affect change within organizations, and influence approaches to CSR and organizational policy.

Mismatch vs. Magnitude: Defining and Testing Types of Organizational Crisis Response Overreaction Tyler G. Page, University of Maryland Organizations in crisis often have stakeholders demanding action before all facts are known—a perfect recipe for overreaction. This study explores overreaction, defines two different types of it, and tests them with 783 participants in two experiments. Implications for theory and practice are discussed.

Exploring the Effects of Different Media Types and Information Sources on Individuals’ Attitude, Perception, and Behavior Intentions Toward Crisis Responses Tham Nguyen, Katerina Tsetsura, and Doyle Yoon, University of Oklahoma This study employs a 2 (media types: Twitter, blog) x 4 (information sources: organization, industry expert, celebrity, private citizen) experimental design, using the Volkswagen’s emissions scandal as a crisis scenario, to test how information from blog and Twitter accounts published by various sources can affect the crisis response effectiveness.

Is It Real? The Impact of Fictional PR Professionals on Popular TV Shows

Bora Yook and Kirli Kirch, University of Miami By using an online survey, this paper examines the relationship between media portrayals of public relations professionals on current popular American TV shows and undergraduate students’ attitudes and behavioral intentions toward the professions.

Ming (Bryan) Wang Explicating Authenticity in Public Relations

Explicating Authenticity in Public Relations

Ming (Bryan) Wang, University of Nebraska-Lincoln This paper examines authenticity in both professional and academic literature to test the dimensions of the construct through surveys of the general public and PR practitioners. Results confirm the multi-dimensional nature of authenticity and will help PR practitioners manage organizational reputation and relationship building activities with stakeholders more successfully.

Ejae Lee ​Explicating Authenticity in Public Relations

Explicating Authenticity in Public Relations [University of Miami School of Communication Top Student Paper Award]

Ejae Lee, Indiana University

This study aims to explicate the concept of authenticity in the theory and practice of public relations. Grounded in multidisciplinary literature examining authenticity, this study explores the fundamental constructs of authenticity and then proposes the explicated definition of authenticity in public relations with two constructs: true-self awareness and genuineness.

Corporate Social Responsibility and Female Entrepreneurship: The Case of Coca-Cola’s 5by20 Initiative MaryClaire Schulz, Elon University In 2010, Coca-Cola launched a women-focused CSR initiative called the 5by20 initiative with the goal of empowering five million women by 2020. This case study analysis examines the 5by20 initiative’s communications efforts to determine how Coca-Cola engages with different stakeholder groups on a global scale.

Image Cultivation of Nations: The Impact of a Public Relations Campaign for Kenya

Dane Kiambi and Samone Behrendt, University of Nebraska-Lincoln This study examined whether there was any noteworthy systematic difference in the coverage of Kenya between the pre-intervention and post-intervention periods which could be attributed to the public relations effort of the agency hired to rebuild the country’s image following the 2007 – 2008 post-election violence. Results showed that hiring the PR firm was not a worthwhile investment for the country.

Sung-Un Yang ​Integrating a Dialogic Theory of Public Relations and Organization-Public Relationship (OPR) Management Perspective

Integrating a Dialogic Theory of Public Relations and Organization-Public Relationship (OPR) Management Perspective: The MERS (Middle East Respiratory) Outbreak Crisis in South Korea

Sung-Un Yang, Indiana University This research aims to understand activism behavior of publics from the perspective of organization-public relationship management in the context of the South Korea’s MERS (Middle East Respiratory) Outbreak crisis. To this end, this study proposes research hypotheses among 1) antecedent of government-public relationships, 2) attributes of relationship outcomes, and 3) consequences of relationship outcomes.

Cayce Myers​ Public Relations or “Grassroots Lobbying”?

Public Relations or “Grassroots Lobbying”?: How Lobbying Laws Are Re-Defining PR Practice

Cayce Myers, Virginia Tech This paper examines the definition and licensing debates in the context of lobbying and PR practice. From these debates this paper analyzes how PR practice could be subject to lobbying laws, and what this type of categorization would mean for modern public relations.

Why Character Assassination Should Be Studied by PR Scholars?

Sergei A. Samoilenko, George Mason University Character assassination (CA) is a deliberate and sustained effort to damage the reputation or credibility of an individual. This papers addresses several reasons for studying the use of character assassination in U.S. politics. It argues for a unified theoretical “umbrella” framework to study character assassination as a social phenomenon, which proved highly relevant for the public relations field in the aftermath of the 2016 U.S. presidential election.