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PR Journal


Title: Exploring the Concept of Mindfulness in Public Relations Practice

Author: Douglas J. Swanson, Ed.D., APR, Professor, California State University, Fullerton.

Abstract: Mindfulness, the act of being thoughtfully focused in the present moment, has recently become a common topic of discussion in media and popular culture.

Much has been written, documenting the effectiveness of mindfulness in the home and at work. While the concept could have relevant application in the public relations workplace, some might argue its esoteric nature conflicts with appropriate professional standards of practice. Using social order theory as a starting point, this essay presents concepts of mindfulness as presently advanced through popular culture and scholarship. The essay concludes with eight recommendations for applying mindfulness precepts in PR practice in ways that would not put practitioners at odds with marketplace expectations.

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Title: The Infographics Assignment: A Qualitative Study of Students' and Professionals' Perspectives

Authors: Tiffany Derville Gallicano, Ph.D., University of Oregon; Daradirek "Gee" Ekachai, Ph.D., Marquette University; and Karen Freberg, Ph.D., University of Louisville.

Abstract:In the evolving digital landscape, educators can consider adopting emerging tactics to prepare students for the workplace. One of these tactics, the infographic, incorporates storytelling characteristics by presenting synthesized knowledge and data in a visual way (Fernando, 2012). Through five focus groups with 37 students at three universities and interviews with 15 public relations professionals from various workplace settings, we explored strategies for teaching the infographics assignment and documented learning outcomes. This study also describes the characteristics of strong infographics, which could be of interest to public relations professionals

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Keywords: infographic; pedagogy, storytelling; teaching; technology; visual communication

Title: Assessing the State of Public Relations Ethics Education

Authors: Deborah Silverman, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, SUNY Buffalo State, Karla K. Gower, Ph.D., University of Alabama, and Elmie Nekmat, Ph.D., National University of Singapore.

Abstract: Using an online survey and telephone interviews, this study examined how and to what extent ethics is currently being taught in the public relations curricula seven years after the Commission on Public Relations Education recommended that ethics pervade all public relations courses and that the curriculum have, if possible, a dedicated PR ethics course. Overall, educators perceive ethics instruction to be very important for PR students, but few programs require an ethics course or recommend one as an elective. The preferred method of ethics instruction delivery is embedding it into each course in the public relations curricula. The most effective methods for teaching ethics were case studies, simulations, and small group discussions. The least effective were Socratic dialogues, research papers and lectures. The most helpful materials were current events, the PRSA Ethics Code, and PRSA online ethics resources.  Class discussions, reflexive/position papers, and student presentations were the most effective forms of assessment. Several of the interviewees, however, noted how difficult it was to assess ethical knowledge.

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Title: A Strategic Framework for Communicating with Generation Y via Emerging Media: A Longitudinal Examination with Public Relations Results and Implications

Authors: Melissa D. Dodd, Ph.D., University of Central Florida, and Shannon B. Campbell, Ph.D., High Point University.

Abstract: Today, Generation Y represents the largest demographic group in America and is defined by an Internet landscape that has revolutionized daily living. Likewise, social media has revolutionized the public relations industry. This research longitudinally examines Generation Y's expectations of organizational social media use across three years and directly compares results to longitudinal research that analyzes public relations professionals' own indications of organizational social media use across three years. Results indicate that organizational communication via social media generally fails to meet the expectations of the Generation Y demographic; however, professionals' indications of what should be happening are more closely aligned. Implications for scholarship and practice are discussed.

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Keywords: emerging media, Generation Y, Millennials, public relations, social media

Title: Cultivating Relationship With Tourists: Role of Public Relations in Constructing and Promoting Authentic Experiences

Author: Rajul Jain, Ph.D., DePaul University.

Abstract: This study examined the role of public relations in communicating authentic experiences to cultivate long-term relationships with tourists. Focus group and interviews were conducted with 11 public relations practitioners of a cultural and eco-archaeological theme park in Mexico to understand their role and responsibilities in developing and promoting the park's image that fosters perceptions of an authentic tourism experience. Additionally, the study analyzed survey data collected from 545 tourists to evaluate their attitudes and opinions about the park's image and authenticity. Variations in perceived authenticity with demographics, visit characteristics, and information sources were also examined. Findings revealed that a destination's image is a significant predictor of its perceived authenticity, which in turn positively influences visitors' trust, satisfaction, and commitment with the destination.

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Title: Does Media Coverage Matter? Perspectives of Public Relations Practitioners and Business Professionals on the Value of News Coverage

Authors: Pauline A. Howes, Ph.D., Kennesaw State University, Kennesaw, GA, and Lynne M. Sallot, Ph.D. Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia

Abstract: This study explores the value of news media coverage as part of a strategic communication plan from the perspectives of public relations practitioners and business people, often PR clients and target audiences. Findings from in-depth interviews with 20 public relations and business professionals reflect continued belief in the conventional wisdom that media coverage is more credible than advertising. Interestingly, however, the revealing comments of both PR and business professionals reflect a growing skepticism of the media, which may help explain the results of experimental studies and provide context for the growing use of paid and owned content and native advertising.

The research entailed in-depth interviews with 10 practitioners reflecting varied levels of experience in corporate, agency and nonprofit settings and 10 business professionals representing diverse industries, company size and geographic scope. Nearly all those interviewed said they consider independent media as more credible than advertising or other controlled media.  They are less confident that the general public perceives media coverage to be more credible than advertising. Practitioners said that clients continue to see value in media coverage as a way to broaden the reach of their messages to target audiences. However, despite their overall belief in media credibility, both groups expressed rising doubts about the believability of media, citing recent cases of plagiarism, breaches of journalistic ethics, and the public's growing cynicism toward news media as a factor in declining media credibility.

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Title: Risk Communication and Japan's Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant Meltdown: Ethical Implications for Government-Citizen Divides

Authors: Cornelius B. Pratt and Akari Yanada, Temple University U.S. and Temple University Japan.

Abstract: The response of Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), which has been hobbled by a natural disaster, provides startling lessons in how organizations that disregard public outcry, even in a high-context culture that embraces pauses and silences in communication exchanges, can be vulnerable to stakeholder backlash. Risk communication used by TEPCO in the wake of the meltdown at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant in March 2011 continues to raise major ethical questions among families with children at risk for illnesses from radiation leaks—and from contamination. TEPCO's actions exacerbated tensions in government-citizen divides. This article analyzes the implications of such divides for the ethics of TEPCO's risk communication—that is, communication to reduce significantly the likelihood of a continuing crisis.

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Keywords: Confucianism, ethics, Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Plant, image-restoration theory, risk communication theory, TEPCO