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PR Journal

Editor's Corner

Editor: Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA

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Title: Public Relations Contingencies in a Globalized World Where Even “Glocalization” is Not Sufficient

Authors: Robert I. Wakefield, Ph.D., APR, Associate Professor of Public Relations at Brigham Young University.

Abstract: Over the years, phrases such as think global, act local or think local, act global have been developed as different mantra to guide strategic thinking in the context of globalization. Glocalization, a shorter term for think global, act local, has been in greater vogue recently, and the somewhat sarcastic term, globaloney, has been used by those who oppose the entire notion of globalization and do not believe that it is necessarily a concept that is here to stay. But how have the public relations industry and its practitioners applied these phrases or terms as they assist multinational organizations through the years? Are any of these terms most appropriate for international public relations practice, or are none of them applicable in an ultra-high-tech environment where any organization can instantly communicate with or feel pressure from individuals or publics in any place and at any given moment? How should the balance of global and local imperatives be handled today, or is this balance no longer relevant? This paper discusses these questions, and suggests that in today’s environment none of the terms or phrases above are adequate for explaining how public relations practitioners, particularly those within multinational entities, should properly function. The paper discusses four different scenarios, or contingencies as they are called here, which detail how organizations get into trouble both locally and globally as they try to implement any one of these suggested mantra of the past. The paper then proposes a more comprehensive and appropriate approach to relationship building and reputation management which better balances the important combination of global and local oversight in the international arena.

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Title: Maximizing Media Relations Through a Better Understanding of the Public Relations-Journalist Relationship: A Quantitative Analysis of Changes Over the Past 23 Years

Authors: Dustin W. Supa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism, Ball State University and Lynn M. Zoch, Ph.D., Director, School of Communications, Radford University.

Abstract: Understanding the relationship between public relations practitioners and journalistsis of paramount importance to practicing effective media relations. Using a similar study conducted by Kopenhaver, Martinson, & Ryan (1984) as a basis, this study explores that relationship using depth interviews (n=8) and a mail survey (n=221, 33% response rate) to gauge perceptions of the relationship for both journalists and public relations practitioners in the state of Florida. It concludes that there has been little change in the relationship between public relations practitioners and journalists over the past 17 years, and offers suggestions as to why that is the case. The study also found that managing expectations is a very important concept for public relations practitioners, both when dealing with clients and also when communicating with journalists and that effective relationships between the two professions can be achieved if there are reasonable expectations put into place. It further addresses current potential problems with the practice of media relations, including the “hitchhiker” concept (sending out blanket releases via email or other methods with the hope that it will be picked up by a media outlet), a lack of targeted media pitching and the future of the press release in public relations. It includes both implications for academics for future study, and also for practitioners of media relations to hopefully better their practice.

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Title: Writing the Narrative Press Release: Is it the Magic Potion for More Usable Press Communications?

Author: Reginald F. Moody, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Communication at the University of South Alabama.

Abstract: How important is writing style in a press release from a news editor’s point of view? Are news editors prone to choose a press release written in a narrative style over one written in an inverted pyramid style? Does writing style sway a news editor’s judgment of a press release in terms of whether the release is considered more interesting and enjoyable, more informative, clearer and more understandable and more credible? The notion that news editors are more likely to choose a press release written in a narrative style over one written in an inverted-pyramid was mixed at best when viewed from the surface of this experiment. On the other hand, writing style was seen as having an unquestionable link to editor’s assessment of certain press release characteristics, such as whether a release was found to be more interesting and enjoyable, more informative, clearer and more understandable and more credible.

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Title: Filmmakers as Social Advocates – A New Challenge for Issues Management: Claims-Making and Framing in Four Social Issue Documentaries

Authors: Mechelle Martz-Mayfield, Resource Development Associate, Loveland (Colorado) Public Schools Foundation and Kirk Hallahan, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, Professor of Journalism and Technical Communication, Colorado State University.

Abstract: This study examines the rise of the social issue documentary film as a medium deserving serious attention by issues managers. After tracing the development of the genre, the papers argues that commercial filmmakers serve as important secondary advocates for causes through highly visible, commercial film productions that frame issues in provocative ways, ascribe blame, and call for social change. A content analysis of four contemporary American films targeting major corporations – Starbucks, McDonalds, Wal-Mart and General Motors – examined the use of issue framing and five story-telling devices identified in the claims-making literature: interviews, statistics, dramatizations, symbols, and celebrities. An additional important tool was identified: the presentation of documentary evidence. Implications for issues management are discussed.

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Title: The Relationship Between Firms’ Media Favorability and Public Esteem

Authors: Craig Carroll, Ph.D., Assistant Professor in the School of Journalism and Mass Communication at the University of North Carolina - Chapel Hill.

Abstract: This paper introduces unpacks media favorability into two dimensions and investigates their relationship with firms’ public esteem. A firm’s focal media favorability refers to the overall evaluation of a firm presented in a stream of media stories. A firm’s peripheral media favorability refers the overall evaluative tone accumulating from a stream of media stories where a firm is mentioned, yet is independent of how the focal firm is portrayed relative to the content. The study used a content analysis of The New York Times (n = 2,711) articles dating six months preceding the 2000 Annual Reputation Quotient, a nationwide public opinion poll (n = 22,359) on firms’ reputations. Relationships were found between firms’ focal media favorability and their public esteem for respondents with more knowledge of the firms’ attributes and between firms’ peripheral media favorability and their public esteem for respondents having little to no knowledge about the firms’ attributes.

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Title: Monitoring Public Opinion in Cyberspace: How Corporate Public Relations Is Facing the Challenge

Ruthann Weaver Lariscy, Ph.D., Professor, Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia; Elizabeth J. Avery, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Advertising and Public Relations, College of Communication, University of Tennessee; Kaye D. Sweetser, Ph.D., APR, Assistant Professor, Henry W. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia; and Pauline Howes.

Abstract: As publics and journalists increasingly turn to social media as sources of information and consumer commentary, the importance of practitioners’ monitoring their organizations’ presence on social media will continue to increase. As a domain where publics have unrestrained voice, social media present interesting challenges to practitioners monitoring organizational reputation. Through survey interviews with practitioners at Fortune 500 and 1000s, this study explores current trends in social media management, use, monitoring, and importance in public relations departments at the nation’s leading corporations. Findings reveal a large gap in use and perceived importance between practitioners and a slow awakening among even non-users reticent to adopt as they realize its potential value. Further, new directions for research and practice on use of social media for issues management are revealed.

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