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PR Journal


Special Issue: Diversity in Public Relations

Guest Editor: Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR

Editor's Remarks
Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR

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Title: Shifting the Paradigm: Diversity Communication on Corporate Websites

Author: Nur Uysal, Assistant Professor, Diederich College of Communication, Marquette University.

Abstract: In recent years, diversity has been one of the prominent issues that companies have addressed on their Web sites. Yet, few studies have investigated public relations efforts on diversity communication via corporate Web sites. Using S&P 500 companies as a sample, this study examined how corporate-level public relations efforts position diversity in Web communication with the public. The results of this study suggest that diversity communication on the S&P Web sites reflected a diversity management paradigm, positioning diversity as requisite variety and competitive advantage. Occasionally, diversity was linked to corporate social responsibility. Based on the results, this article argues that, beyond requisite variety or moral responsibility, diversity should be conceptualized as a core company value established through dialogue.

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Title: Millennials' Perceptions About Diversity in Their PR Agencies

Author: Tiffany Derville Gallicano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon.

Abstract: Public relations agencies have been under fire for their lack of racial, ethnic, and gender diversity at senior management levels (Fiske, 2011; PR Week, 2001a). Agencies have responded by focusing on recruiting a pipeline of racially and ethnically diverse talent. This study explores the perceptions of the Millennials who are part of this diverse pipeline, as well as the perceptions of Millennials with dominant identity markers, to explore perceptions of agencies' commitment to diversity and respondents' identification of diversity problems through online asynchronous discussion groups with 51 participants.

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Title: Profiling Public Relations Practitioners' Work-Life Conflict: From A Diversity Lens

Authors: Hongmei Shen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Journalism & Media Studies, San Diego State University and Hua Jiang, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, S. I. Newhouse School of Public Communications, Syracuse University.

Abstract: Work-life conflict -- defined as the incompatibility between expectations to perform one role versus another -- can be categorized as time-based, strain-based, and behavior-based. Using a broad diversity perspective, we examined understudied diversity categories as influencers of work-life conflict, namely, age, family dependent care responsibility, and professional specialty. Surveying a nationally representative sample of PRSA membership (N=820), we found that Generation Xers are more stressed out than are other age groups; those who need to care for an older adult experience significantly higher levels of time-based conflict; and employee relations specialists have to deal with significantly more strain-based work-life conflict than do others.

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Title: Unintended Consequences of a Segmentation Strategy: Exploring Constraint Recognition Among Black Women Targeted in HIV/AIDS Campaigns

Author: Tiphané P. Turpin, Assistant Professor, Division of Professional Communication, Georgetown University.

Abstract: Targeted health communication campaigns have attempted to educate and engage publics, yet scholars and practitioners continue to refine best practices for predicting the outcomes of these efforts. After more than 30 years of messaging aimed at HIV/AIDS education in America, contraction rates among Black women continue to climb. Practitioners are challenged to better understand factors impacting constraint recognition among Black women targeted by HIV/AIDS messaging. The situational theory of publics provided a framework for segmenting and analyzing constraint recognition among Black American women participating in this study. Findings indicate that constraint recognition, when linked to salient cultural identity in the minds of targeted publics, decreases message processing and increases fear of social stigma among targeted publics. The current study contributes to the expanding body of public relations literature on health and adds to the exploration of cultural identity as an antecedent variable in public relations' situational theory, which Sha (1999) had identified as an area for further study. Results from this study suggested a process for evaluating and avoiding the consequences of connecting constraints with identity in health campaigns that include targeting strategies and reinforced the importance of intersectionality when seeking to understand traditionally marginalized publics' identities.

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Title: Race, Digital and Traditional Media, and Public Relations Health Campaigns

Authors: Bryan H. Reber, Ph.D., Assistant Department Head & Associate Professor, Grady College, University of Georgia; Hye-Jin Paek, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Hanyang University (Korea); and Ruthann Weaver Lariscy, Ph.D., Professor, Grady College, University of Georgia.

Abstract: Applying situational theory to adolescent health contexts, this study examines whether race, medium use, and involvement may serve as significant determinants of information seeking and processing in conjunction with constraint and problem recognition. Analysis of a cross-sectional survey among 452 adolescents showed that problem recognition was positively related to information processing and seeking. Constraint recognition was positively related to information seeking, but not information processing. Involvement was positively related to information seeking and both media and interpersonal information processing. Findings support the importance of considering racial diversity in audience segmentation. Non-whites were more likely than were whites to actively seek information. Print media use was more predictive of information seeking and processing than was Internet, television, or radio use. Implications for audience segmentation in public health campaigns are discussed.

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Title: The Next Dimension in Public Relations Campaigns: A Case Study of the It Gets Better Project

Author: Jamie Ward, Ph.D., Lecturer, Department of Language, Culture and Communication at University of Michigan-Dearborn.

Abstract: This study examines the ways in which a campaign that is completely reliant on user-generated content (UGC) can not only successfully engage a diverse public but also maintain value and legitimacy while serving as the basis for motivating individuals to take action. Guided in part by the theory of network-enabled commons-based peer production, this study posits that by crafting a public relations campaign using authentic voice in conjunction with YouTube, public relations practitioners can empower individuals to become active participants in advocacy campaigns for social justice or the common good of society, thus creating unique, individual connections with their publics and essentially empowering others to use their voices to help these campaigns reach critical mass. To illustrate the success of such a campaign, an in-depth, critical case study of the It Gets Better Project, is conducted.

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Title: Advocacy and Amplification: Nonprofit Outreach and Empowerment Through Participatory Media

Author: Erica Ciszek, Graduate Teaching Fellow, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon.

Abstract: This exploratory qualitative case study examines the role of participatory media in nonprofit public relations. Through a case study of the It Gets Better Project, this research examines how nonprofit organizations can provide a platform for publics to amplify their voices and in turn how publics can work to carry forth the message of a movement. This research seeks to contribute to academic and practical understandings of online strategies used to promote advocacy and outreach for social change. The main inquiry guiding this research is an exploration of how nonprofits are using digital media strategically in ways that facilitate engagement with constituents and which empower publics to carry forth the work of an organization. This article argues that participatory media, particularly YouTube, are powerful platforms for nonprofit organizations that can function as a tool of empowerment and amplification when working with marginalized publics.

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Title: Clientelism, Economic Structure, and Public Relations in Southern Europe: An Example of Diversity in the Western World

Author: César García, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Central Washington University.

Abstract: This article explores the relationship between state power, clientelist relationships, and economic structure in the public relations practice of European Mediterranean countries. It considers the cases of Greece, Italy, Portugal, and Spain, part of a management subdivision – "the Southern European region" – that multinationals have been using for decades. Some common characteristics of the public relations field in these countries can be highlighted, including the prominent role of media relations, the importance of personal relationships, and the gap between state-supported multinationals and remaining companies. The author argues that the field's normative ideal of the two-way symmetrical model fails in these Western free-market democracies due, in the case of numerous organizations, to an emphasis (and dependence) on building relationships with the government at the expense of other publics, as well as the lack of scale economies. This disparate social and economic structure makes the use of persuasive models more appropriate for their contexts.

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