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PR Journal


Title: An Updated Examination of Social and Emerging Media Use in Public Relations Practice: A Longitudinal Analysis Between 2006 and 2014

Authors: Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA of Boston University and Michelle Drifka Hinson, M.A., of Eye Exposure and the University of Florida.

Abstract: This article reports on a nine-year longitudinal analysis studying how social and other emerging media technologies are bringing dramatic changes to how public relations is practiced. The major finding in the 2014 study involves Twitter narrowly replacing Facebook for the first time as the most frequently accessed new medium for public relations activities. LinkedIn and You Tube were the next most frequently used sites. For the third year in a row, this research found the influence of traditional mainstream news media continuing to weaken. Results also found considerably more support for the suggestions that blogs, social and other emerging media are enhancing public relations practice and that social and other emerging media continue to influence traditional mainstream media. Findings show those who practice public relations continue to agree strongly that social and other emerging media are changing the way public relations is practiced. This impact continues to be much more pronounced for external than internal audiences. In terms of how social media are impacting communication strategy, 2014 results found most (77%) recommend using different messages for various social media platforms, but only 57% of their organizations actually do disseminate different messages for different social media platforms.

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Title: Russia Versus the World: Are Public Relations Leadership Priorities More Similar than Different?

Author: Elina Erzikova, Ph.D., of Central Michigan University.

Abstract: As a part of a global study, 215 Russian public relations practitioners completed an online survey about their perceptions of professional leadership and communication management. The Russian sample’s demographics differed significantly from the overall sample’s make-up (N=4,484; 22 countries). Despite the differences, there was a significant overlap between Russian participants’ and their global peers’ beliefs. This result might signal the universality of some specific leadership aspects and/or a globalization effect in Russian public relations.

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Keywords: communication management, leadership, public relations, Russia

Title: A Qualitative Examination of the Impact of Social Media on Media Relations Practice

Author: Dustin W. Supa, Ph.D., of Boston University.

Abstract: This study examines the impact of social media on media relations practice through the use of depth interviews with public relations practitioners (n=33) and journalists (n=36) to determine what the impact of social media has been on the practitioner-journalist relationship. It finds that while the majority of practitioners interviewed were optimistic about the impact of social media, most journalists were not enthusiastic about the changes precipitated by new platforms. Themes found in previous quantitative research on the impact of social media did seem to hold under qualitative scrutiny, although several new themes did emerge.

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Title: Co-Orienting Community Engagement In Hospital System Planning: Understanding Internal and External Perspectives

Authors: Heather Pullen, MCM, Hamilton (Ontario) Health Services and Terence (Terry) Flynn, APR, FCPRS, McMaster University.

Abstract: This study explored the relationship between a large health care institution in Canada and its stakeholders as a means of understanding how “the community” wants to be engaged in ongoing hospital restructuring and system planning. A mixed-methods research design (focus groups, depth interviews and Q-methodology) was used to assess stakeholders’ perceptions of effective community engagement strategies and frameworks for sustainable community and organizational outreach. Findings show that the community members expect health care organizations to engage in mutually beneficial, two-way symmetrical communication and dialogue. Results provide scholars, public relations practitioners and organizational leaders with insights on the community’s expectations and willingness to engage.

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Keywords: community engagement, public relations, citizen participation, decision-making, symmetrical communication

Title: Does Planning and Practice Make Perfect? A Study of Communication Culture, Autonomy and PR Practitioners’ Confidence in Handling Crises

Authors: Shelley Wigley, Ph.D., of University of Texas at Arlington and Weiwu Zhang, Ph.D., of Texas Tech University.

Abstract: The study builds on research by Marra (1998) who examined crisis communication case studies and found that organizations with crisis plans do not always manage crises well. To assess Marra’s (1998) concept of communication culture, this study looked at organizations’ use of two-way symmetrical communication (Grunig, 1992); PR professionals’ crisis confidence and communication autonomy; and the presence of a crisis plan. An Internet survey of members of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) yielded 251 valid responses. Findings revealed that PR professionals who reported they were part of the dominant coalition exhibited more confidence in their organization’s ability, their own ability and their CEO’s ability to handle a crisis. PR professionals who viewed their organizations higher on their use of two-way symmetrical communication (communication culture) displayed more confidence in their organization’s and CEO’s abilities to handle a crisis but not their own. Additionally, PR practitioners who have a crisis plan for the organization and who perceive they are part of the dominant coalition have more confidence in their organization's ability, their own ability, and their CEO’s ability to handle a crisis than those who only had a crisis plan. Research also revealed that PR practitioners who have a crisis plan for the organization and who perceive their organizations higher in their use of two-way symmetrical communication exhibited more confidence in their organization's ability and their CEO’s ability to handle a crisis than those who had only a crisis plan; however, they did not display more confidence in their own ability to handle a crisis.

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Title: How Spokesperson Rank and Selected Media Channels Impact Perceptions in Crisis Communication

Authors: Jieun Lee, M.S., Consultant, Business Insight, Seoul, South Korea; Sora Kim, Ph. D., The Chinese University of Hong Kong; and Emma K. Wertz, Ph.D., of Kennesaw State University.

Abstract: This study examined the impact of spokesperson’s rank and selected media channels in crisis communication by employing different ranks (i.e., CEO and communication director spokespersons) and media channels (blogs, websites, and newspapers). Findings indicated that CEO spokespersons were more effective in terms of lowering publics’ crisis responsibility attributions than communication director spokespersons and that blogs were more effective in lowering crisis responsibility attributions than websites and newspapers.

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Keywords: spokesperson, media channel impact, crisis communication, credibility, social media, blogs