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PR Journal

Title: Exploring the Comparative Communications Effectiveness of Advertising and Public Relations: A Replication and Extension of Prior Experiments

Authors: Don W. Stacks, Ph.D., Professor of Public Relations, School of Communication, University of Miami, and David Michaelson, Ph.D., President, Echo Research Inc.

Abstract: The comparative effectiveness of public relations compared to advertising has long been controversial. This study reviews a pilot and initial experimental study of the effect of public relations versus advertising and replicates and extends the research as the second part of a continuing body of research dedicated to comparing the communications effectiveness of these communications methods. The results once again failed to establish an advantage of advertising over public relations. Discussion focused on extending the research to different settings and message control.

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Title:   Reality is Greater Than Fiction: How Southwest’s Reality Show ‘Airline’ Acted as a Public Relations Tool in Managing Organizational  Impressions

Author: Alexa S. Chilcutt, Ph.D., Director of Communication and Interpersonal Skills, School of Dentistry at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Abstract: Reality television captures audience’s attention through the “reality” experience and is produced to either entertain or to somehow educate. In 2003, the Americanbased Arts & Entertainment Channel set out to copy the British reality show ‘Airline.’ The show’s focus was a British international airline carrier who had allowed cameras to roam freely capturing the hairy experiences of travelers. Southwest is the main character in the American version of ‘Airline’ and the experience continues to pay off for the airline in terms of positive public relations. In order to investigate how such a seemingly negative portrayal of travel produces positive public perceptions of the organization, this study examined the show in light of Mohamed, Gardner, and Paolillo’s 1999 A Taxonomy of Organizational Impression Management. A content analysis was conducted to evaluate employees’ impression management tactics during both positive and problematic situations throughout the 18 episodes of the first season. The results indicate that the assertive tactics are consistently more effective in accomplishing and maintaining passenger satisfaction, and that defensive tactics should be used sparingly and only in situations where the organization needs to assert or maintain control of the situation at hand or its reputation.

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Title: Corporate Reputation: Beyond Measurement

Authors: Katerina Tsetsura, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Gaylord College of Journalism and Mass Communication at University of Oklahoma, and Dean Kruckeberg, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, Professor, Department of Communication Studies and Director of the Global Public Relations Research Center at University of North Carolina at Charlotte.

Abstract: Dr. Teetsura and Dr. Kruckeberg report about the challenging, yet exciting, time for public relations practitioners in Eastern Europe – a time when practitioners can define who they are and what they do. The authors call this an excellent opportunity for the development of a solid understanding of how public relations can not only benefit society but also yield positive business results. The article explores how practitioners in these transitional countries are realizing how they can build and maintain corporate reputation while demonstrating and delivering a sound return on investment.

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Title: Examining How Public Relations Practitioners Actually Are Using Social Media

Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, Professor of Public Relations, College of Communication at Boston University, and Michelle D. Hinson, M.A., Director of Development , Institute for Public Relations at University of Florida.

Abstract: The international survey of public relations practitioners (n=574) reported about in this article appears to be the world’s first extensive examination of how social media are being implemented in public relations practice. In addition to measuring how social media are being employed in the practice of public relations, this study also explores actual social media use by individual public relations practitioners. Results suggest meaningful and statistically significant gaps exist between what practitioners say is happening in terms of social media use and what they say should be happening. When subjects were asked how important various social media are in the overall public relations efforts of their organizations, respondents listed search engine marketing most important followed in importance by blogs, social networks, video sharing and forums or message boards. When asked how important the same list of social media options should be responses didn’t do much to change the perceived order of importance, butmean scores and the overall perceived importance of all of the measured items are much higher when subjects are asked what should be happening in terms of social media use than they are when the question asks what actually is happening. Differences based upon demographics found younger respondents were more likely to recommend using social media in public relations. They also were more likely to use social media and other Internet-based technologies in their daily pursuit of news and information.

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Title: Institutional Review Boards and Public Relations/Mass Communication Research: Furthering the Conversation  

Patricia Mark, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Advertising, University of South Alabama, and Jeanne S. McPherson, Ph.D., Adjunct Professor, Washington State University Tri-Cities.

Abstract: Scholars in the fields of public relations and other aspects of communication regularly exchange frustrations about research project approvals, arguing that the Institutional Review Board (IRB) process is rife with problems. Understandably, some academics object to expansive notions of university research and institutional commitments that result in IRBs reviewing “all” human research. Rather, IRBs need to focus their resources where they are most needed and abandon the “one-size-fits-all” mindset for identifying and reviewing research. This article furthers such views, providing examples from actually IRB deliberations, and the problems they caused for students and faculty at a university in the southeastern United States. The article offers five recommendations for promoting dialogue toward streamlining IRB protocols for undergraduate communication classes, graduate theses, and faculty research. Such conversations will promote better and more innovative research, which is greatly needed to address the complexity of our evolving global relationships.

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Title: Finding Connections Between Lobbying, Public Relations and Advocacy

Author: Kati Tusinski Berg, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the Department of Advertising & Public Relations, J. William and Mary Diederich College of Communication at Marquette University.

Abstract: This study begins to connect our understanding of lobbying and public relations as communication activities. A survey of 222 registered lobbyists in Oregon reveals the range of communication activities in which they are engaged, as well as the range of organizations on whose behalf they lobby, and their description of their occupational role. Findings suggest that many lobbyists, like many public relations professionals, do think about their role as a form of advocacy. I then conclude by noting some of the contradictions and limitations of using the term advocacy as a way of describing the communication activities.

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