DAY 2 | International PR Research Conference


Lise Michaud

The second day of the 20th International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) offers a rich agenda again with important topics of great interest to communication professionals at large and to internal communication professionals as well. We are particularly looking forward to the results of the Delphi study identifying standards for internal communication, also recognized by the Institute for Public Relations W. Ward White Awards for Top Two Papers of Practical Significance.

As we did for the first day of the Conference, we gathered below the research discussion paper abstracts that will be discussed between researchers and practitioners today. You can follow the Conference on Twitter via hashtag #IPRRC, and on Facebook.

Research Discussion Paper Abstracts to be discussed Friday, March 10th

Timothy Penning High Performance Corporate Communication Teams: Views of Top CCOs

High Performance Corporate Communication Teams: Views of Top CCOs

Mark Bain, Upper 90 Consulting, and Timothy Penning, Grand Valley State University

In-depth interviews with 14 top corporate communications officers (CCOs) reveal how they value and define “high performance” for business overall and the communication function specifically. The study also delves into the factors that drive and impede high performance on corporate communication teams. Individual, team and organizational themes emerged.

Katy L. Robinson and Patrick D. Thelen What Makes the Grapevine So Effective?

What Makes the Grapevine So Effective?

Katy L. Robinson and Patrick D. Thelen University of Florida

This study recognizes existing relationship management theory research to encompass the establishment of organizational-employee relationships and aims to advance research to include peer-to-peer relationships in the internal communication function through the dimensions of interpersonal relationships. It expands the theory of organizational-peer relationships to include peer-to-peer relationships offers broader study to a rich and powerful communication tool, the grapevine, an informal peer-to-peer communication network.

The Space Between Students and Campus Police: Revisiting Co-Orientation in the Context of Unrest and Crime Alerts

Taylor Lutz and Melanie Formentin, Towson University

This study uses a coorientational model to examine the impact of current events and changing emergency alert systems on the relationship between students and campus police. Interviews with officers and focus groups with students suggest a state of false consensus regarding perceptions of training, usefulness of alerts, and officer abilities.

Does Engaged Publics’ Evaluation of Networking Practices Matter? The Effects of Polarized Attitudes and the Reputation of Networking on Publics WOM Behaviors

Jisu Kim, Keonyoung Park, and Hyejoon Rim, University of Minnesota—Twin Cities

The study examines how polarized attitudes toward PETA and the organization’s perceived ability to network with its stakeholders can shape trends in WOM behavior on social media. Given the importance of strengthening relationships with the engaged public, the study pays particular attention to the engaged public’s evaluation of the organization’s networking practices.

We Can Do Good Too: Examining Oil and Gas Companies’ Social Media CSR Messages and Their Impact on Public Perception and Engagement Alan Abitbol, University of Dayton, Judson Meeks and R. Glenn Cummins, Texas Tech University

We assess the extent to which oil and gas companies communicate about their CSR practices via Facebook and how online stakeholder engagement is affected. We examine the impact of the message’s topic and language on the number of likes, shares, and comments and the type and tone of the comments.

Exploring Effects of Pre- and Post-Crisis CSRs on Reputation Restoration

Hyun Jee Oh, Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong and Jeesun Kim, Incheon National University, South Korea

CSR authenticity has multiple dimensions such as truthfulness, facts, honesty, genuineness, and trustworthiness. By comparing the effect of proactive and reactive CSR activities in crisis situation, this study explores which aspects of perceived authenticity are more susceptible than others so that PR practitioners can use them in after-crisis CSR activities.

Studying Social and Digital Media Use in Public Relations Practice: An Annual Longitudinal Analysis Donald K. Wright, Boston University, and Michelle Hinson, University of Florida

This paper reports on the results of a 12-year longitudinal analysis trend study of more than 5,500 public relations practitioners. Findings confirm that the use of social media has increase each year. Results from 2017 include benchmark comparisons of those who practice public relations—and an analysis of how these opinions have changed during the past 12 years.

Deploying Image Repair Strategies for Multiple Publics with Competing Interests: a Content Analysis of Facebook’s News Feed FYI Series Abdulaziz Muqaddam, Michigan State University

This paper is about Facebook employment image-maintenance strategies regarding the issue of its news feed algorithm. The two issues this paper examines are: First, How micro-customization news benefit advertisers, but it isolate users into filter bubbles. Two, how could the newsfeed system filter out spam and hoaxes, or “fake news.” The research used thematic content analysis on the posts related to these two issues, focusing on how end-users versus advertisers were addressed differently.

Juan Meng and Bruce K. Berger Preparing Future Communication Leaders

Preparing Future Communication Leaders: Understand Millennial Communication Professionals Better by Filling the Perceptual Gaps Full Study here Juan Meng, University of Georgia, and Bruce K. Berger, University of Alabama

We designed two online surveys to obtain two national audience panels to explore talent management approaches to attract, engage, develop, retain, and gain from millennial communication professionals. Significant perceptual gaps were found. We also discussed implications on how to help prepare these young professionals for leadership in the field.

Finn Frandsen and Winni Johansen Methodological Consequences of a Multivocal Approach to Crisis Communication

Methodological Consequences of a Multivocal Approach to Crisis Communication: Network pictures and digital methods Finn Frandsen and Winni Johansen, Aarhus University, Denmark

The aim of this paper is to compare and evaluate two new methodological approaches which share the ambition to go beyond the “methodological individualism,” and to demonstrate how crisis communication can profit from these new approaches.

Kaisa Pekkala and Vilma Luoma-aho Looking Back, Looking Forward: From Spokespersons to Employee Advocates

Looking Back, Looking Forward: From Spokespersons to Employee Advocates

Kaisa Pekkala and Vilma Luoma-aho, University of Jyväskylä, Finland

This conceptual paper focuses on evolutionary stages of employee advocacy from orators to spokespersons and beyond. We compare these through the factors of ownership of voice and message content. The paper explains the contributions of each stage to present day public relations and helps predict future direction of the profession.

William D. Nowling and Mi Rosie Jahng

Agenda Building of Public Official Communication in the Pre-Crisis Stage of the Flint, Michigan Water Contamination William D. Nowling, Finn Partners, and Mi Rosie Jahng, Wayne State University

Exploring the process prior to the 2015 Flint water crisis, this paper seeks to examine how local officials made the case to move to Detroit water system to the Karegnondi Water Authority (KWA). Based on agenda building, an exploratory content analysis examined how local officials utilized public communication efforts to build the agenda around the local news coverage.

Gendered Leadership in Crisis Contexts: Exploring the Intersections of Discourse of Renewal and Ethic of Care Shoaa Almalki, St. Mary’s University This study examines GM ignition switch crisis to explore the intersections of discourse of renewal theory, ethic of care, and gendered leadership, and apply findings from that analysis to draw new insights about the glass cliff effect.

PR Managers in Japanese Corporations: A Preliminary Study on How Life-Long Employment System Affects PR/Communication Function

Junichiro Miyabe, Hokkaido University, Japan, and Koichi Yamamura, TS Communication, Japan PR managers in Japanese corporations assume that PR post is one of the diversified steps of career development within a company. The situation in Japan seems quite different from that of the US. Based on these observations, our research focuses on how life-long employment and job rotation affect operation of PR department. We will present results of our preliminary study.

Right to Know as a Foundation for Ethical Practice: A Reinterpreted and Expanded Public Relations Code of Ethics Michael J. Palenchar, University of Tennessee, and Bernardo Motta, University of South Florida—St. Petersburg This paper examines that while community right to know mirrors public relations ethics codes, the field falls short of its basic philosophy and tenets. Ultimately right to know as an ethical foundation for public relations moves current ethics codes beyond the sovereignty of consumer choice and concepts such as transparency.

Sean Williams and Julie O’Neil A Delphi Study to Identify Standards for Internal Communication (Photo Credit Institute for Public Relations)

A Delphi Study to Identify Standards for Internal Communication

Julie O’Neil, Texas Christian University, Michele Ewing, Kent State University, Stacey Smith, Jackson, Jackson & Wagner, and Sean Williams, Communication AMMO

[Institute for Public Relations W. Ward White Awards for Top Two Papers of Practical Significance]

Researchers from an international task force conducted a two-round Delphi study with a purposive sample of internal communication thought leaders to identify internal communication standards. This paper describes those findings and defines standards that practitioners can use to measure internal communication in a consistent and comparable manner—the goal of standardization.

Looking Back: Exploring ‘On-the-Job’ Moral Development of Public Relations Professionals

Katie R. Place, Quinnipiac University This study applied Kohlberg’s Theory of Moral Development to understand how moral growth of PR employees takes place. It fills the dearth of knowledge regarding how PR practitioners evolve as moral individuals and how organizations cultivate moral development. Participants described their moral development as cultivated via ethical decision making, exposure to industry ethical standards, ethical industry mentors.

Cross-national Conflict Shifting and MNC-government Bargaining: GlaxoSmithKline Bribery Scandal Revisited Tianduo Zhang, University of Florida The study explores GSK’s bribery scandal in China in the context of MNC-government bargaining. The study provides practical insights into how companies can improve government relations and take advantage of government policy-making while remaining compliant with changing political norms in China’s since Xi’s anti-corruption campaign.

The Sorry State of Social Media: Analyzing Public Apologies

Jean Kelso Sandlin and Monica Gracyalny, California Lutheran University

Evidence suggests social media functions on an interpersonal level, yet public relations image repair strategies are based on a mass media model. Using image repair strategies from both theoretical frameworks, this study examined behaviors of public figures apologizing on social media, and associations of audience perceptions of sincerity and forgiveness.

Examining the Role of Social Presence and Information Source for Strategic Crisis Communication via Social Media Soojin Roh, Syracuse University An online experiment tested impacts of perceived social presence and information source on public responses towards a corporate crisis. Heightened social presence predicted less negative emotion, positive credibility assessment, and greater likelihood of crisis action acceptance. Crisis infoTMrmation delivered by a third party information elicited greater indignation among participants.

From Ethical Responsibility Crisis Perceptions to Product Evaluations: Spillover Effect of an Employee Mistreatment Crisis Seoyeon Kim, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and EunHae (Grace) Park, University of Missouri

The current study, as an attempt to explore effects of CSR crises, hypothesized that a reputational crisis caused by employee mistreatment (versus product-related crises) would generate a) negative corporate reputation, b) consumer retaliatory actions against company, and c) negative corporate ability perceptions. All of the three hypotheses were fully or partially supported.

Putting Out Fires: How Communication Professionals Understand and Practice Conflict Resolution

Putting Out Fires: How Communication Professionals Understand and Practice Conflict Resolution

Kenneth D. Plowman, Brigham Young University, and Susan D. Allen, Johns Hopkins University Do communication professionals fill the role of negotiators and conflict resolvers within their organizations? In this study practitioners experienced most conflict within teams and other internal audiences, practiced conflict avoidance rather than conflict engagement, understood individual level factors as major contributors to conflict, and avoided digital channels in conflict resolution.

Revisiting the Best Practices in Risk and Crisis Communication: A Multicase Analysis

[Institute for Public Relations W. Ward White Awards for Top Two Papers of Practical Significance]

Shari R. Veil, University of Kentucky, Kathryn E. Anthony, University of Southern Mississippi, Nicole Staricek, University of Kentucky, Laura E. Young, Baker University, Timothy L. Sellnow, University of Central Florida, and Pam Cupp, University of Kentucky

This study extends the best practices in risk and crisis communication by synthesizing the contributions from research thus far and assessing the applicability of the best practices framework in a multi-case analysis. We conclude with essential guidelines for ongoing risk and crisis communication and outline ethical implications for practice.

Understanding Gender Disparity in Public Relations: An Evaluation of the Perceptions of the Field Dustin W. Supa and Emma E. Pizzardi, Boston University This study explores the concept of gender disparity in public relations using a survey of undergraduate students’ perceptions of subfields and tasks associated with public relations. It finds that although many of the tasks associated with public relations are perceived as masculine, the field as a whole is considered feminine.

Liang (Lindsay) Ma When Love Becomes Hate: The Dark Side of Consumer-Brand Relationships in Crisis Communication

When Love Becomes Hate: The Dark Side of Consumer-Brand Relationships in Crisis Communication [Red Raider Public Relations Research Award]

Liang (Lindsay) Ma, Texas Christian University

This study re-conceptualized organization-public relationships (OPRs) into non-identifying relationships and identifying relationships and examined the interaction effects between OPRs and crises on consumer attitudes and emotions, which then influenced behavioral intentions. Although the non-identifying relationships offer the buffering effects, the identifying relationships primarily offer the love-becomes-hate effects.