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IC a hot Topic in Communication Research

Lise Michaud

The International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC) 2017 proceedings were released this week and a large number of the papers have a focus on internal communication. Out of the 107 presentations at the 20th IPRRC presented in March, authors from 32 papers submitted their full papers to be published in this year’s conference proceedings. Abstracts of all 107 papers can be found here and a list of related blog posts that we published during the conference is included at the end of this post.

While all papers from the 2017 proceedings make an important contribution to the body of knowledge on the practice of public relations, this post identifies those that have a strong focus on the practice of internal communication.

Policy Aside: A Framing Study on Influencing Cultural and Policy Change within an Organization, p. 11 Kalyca Becktel, Cassandra Gesecki, Justin Smith, and Caleb Eames, San Diego State University

This study uses the theory of framing to investigate its effect on the public’s perception of the Marine Corps as women prepare to enter combat jobs. Results indicate that the framing of gender integration has a significant impact on participant perception of the Marine Corps’ reputation, credibility, and characteristics.

Communicating Employee Wellness Plans to Employees: The Effects of Gain-Loss Framing and Message Source on Intentions to Enroll, p. 125

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.

Silent & Unprepared: Millennial Practitioners yet to Embrace Role as Ethical Conscience, p. 207

Marlene S. Neill, Baylor University, and Nancy Weaver, The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas

Millennial practitioners do not feel prepared to offer ethics counsel and do not expect to face ethical dilemmas at work. Through survey research, significant differences were found regarding perceptions of readiness to offer ethics counsel based on availability of mentors and ethics training in college or at work.

A Delphi Study to Identify Standards for Internal Communication, p. 252

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

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.

The four authors of the study: Sean Williams, Vice President & Practice Lead, True Digital Communications, Michele Ewing, Kent State University, Stacey Smith, Jackson, Jackson & Wagner and Julie O’Neil, Texas Christian University, and the President and CEO of the Institute for PR, Tina McCorkindale. (Photo Credit: Institute for PR)​

Looking Back, Looking Forward: From Spokespersons to Employee Advocates, p. 268

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.

Looking Back: Exploring the Moral Development of Public Relations Professionals, p. 291

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.

Putting Out Fires: How Communication Professionals Understand and Practice Conflict Resolution, p. 303 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.

What Makes the Grapevine So Effective? p. 328

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.

Revisiting the Best Practices in Risk and Crisis Communication: A Multicase Analysis, p. 365

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.

Other papers with a link to internal communication

Applying the Public’s Perception of Temporal Distance into Crisis Communication: An Extended Concept of Threat, p. 100

Sungsu Kim, University of Georgia

This paper reviews a 3-tier dimensionality of threat in threat appraisal model and construal level theory. As an approach to conceptualize threat from the audience perspective, it proposes to build an extended concept of threat by applying perceived temporal distance. Future research recommendations and implications are also discussed.

Explicating Authenticity in Public Relations, p. 112

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 (CSR) Communication in Japan: A Case Study of Green Advertisements in “Nikkei Ecology” Magazine, p. 136

Yanyan Liu, Nagoya University, Japan

This study is an exploratory analysis of how the green advertising of Japanese corporations uses words and images related to the discourse of environmental responsibility. A content analysis was conducted on a sample of 124 green advertisements published in the environmental business magazine “Nikkei Ecology”. The analysis revealed significant variations in the patterns of words and images used in different categories of advertisement.

When Love Becomes Hate: The Dark Side of Consumer-Brand Relationships in Crisis Communication, p. 149

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.

Diana Martinelli, West Virginia University, and Elina Erzikova, Central Michigan University

Using 51 purposive in-depth interviews with PR practitioners and students across five countries, this exploratory study examined when public relations leadership dimensions appear/are learned and how they are manifested. Cross-cultural differences and commonalities are noted, as are implications for leadership development.

Government-Public Relationship Cultivation in the Digital Era: The Impact of Public Engagement and Political Leadership Communication on Social Media,

p. 179 Linjuan Rita Men, University of Florida, Aimei Yang, University of Southern California, Baobao Song, and Spiro Kiousis, University of Florida

Using a survey of 396 WeChat users, this study tested a model that links publics’ political social media engagement, leadership communication on social media, publics’ evaluation of the political leader, and government-public relationship outcomes (i.e., trust and satisfaction towards the government) in the context of China.

No Media Relations, No Public Relations? The Role of Relationships in the “New” Media Relations Landscape, p. 280

Justin Pettigrew and Amber Hutchins, Kennesaw State University

This study seeks to analyze how the top companies in the United States utilize social media theories or features for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR). Specifically, it focuses on how the top 25 Fortune companies use social media features to inform, communicate, and engage stakeholders in CSR initiatives and messages.

To read to 32 papers included in the 2017 proceedings, click here.

Related blog posts


IC Kollectif is a global independent nonprofit organization. All editorial content is published independently and without the influence of any advertiser, commercial sponsor or partner.

Capture d’écran, le 2019-04-03 à 17.31.5
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