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PR Journal

Editor's Column

Robert I. Wakefield, Ph.D., APR

Title: U.S. Public Relations Students’ Perceptions of PR: What College Students Think About PR Education and the PR Profession

Authors: Jami A. Fullerton, Ph.D. Oklahoma State University, and Lori Melton McKinnon, PhD, APR, Oklahoma State University.

Abstract: A nationwide survey of U.S. college and university students (n=786), who are members of Public Relations Society of America student chapters (PRSSA) found mixed attitudes toward and conflicting perceptions of the public relations industry. A large majority of students believed that their college degrees had prepared them well for a career in public relations, however many were concerned about finding a job upon graduation. A third-person effect was detected in that students believed that the negative media portrayals of the PR industry had more effect on others than it did on them. Potential levels of cognitive dissonance among the students about their chosen profession also were found. Suggestions for PR education are presented in the context of the findings.

Keywords: public relations industry, student attitudes, image of PR

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Title: Examining Social and Emerging Media Use in Public Relations Practice: A Ten-Year Longitudinal Analysis

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

Abstract: This article reports on a ten-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 2015 study involves a very close race between Facebook and Twitter as the social or emerging media used the most in public relations practice. Although Twitter narrowly replacing Facebook for the first time in 2014 as the most frequently accessed new medium for public relations activities, Facebook narrowly regained the lead in 2015. LinkedIn and You Tube were the next most frequently used sites. 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.

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Title: PR Professionals' Technology Use: Emotional, Financial, and Professional Ramifications

Authors: Hongmei Shen, Ph.D., San Diego State University and Hilary Fussell Sisco, Ph.D., Quinnipiac University.

Abstract: This study examined Information and communication technologies (ICT) use by public relations practitioners and its influence on work-life conflict, income, and professional outlook through a random national survey (n = 820) of Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) members. We found that practitioners primarily use direct media more than network-building media and visual media. ICT use (direct and visual media use) was a significant predictor of time-based work-life conflict. Some types of ICT use significantly enhance practitioners’ income and influence their professional outlook.

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Title: Candidates for Accreditation in Public Relations: Role Enactment and the Social Media Synapse

Authors: Kaye D. Sweetser, Ph.D., APR+M, San Diego State University and Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR, San Diego State University.

Abstract: Public relations roles have been studied for decades and around the world, but no research published to date examines the role enactment of practitioners who choose to sit for professional certification in public relations. This survey finds that Accreditation-track professionals (N = 150) align with the general-population practitioner in some respects, such as role enactment and gender, but differ in others, such as experience and role enactment. In determining how social media use integrates into the roles literature, the data here support a 3-factor solution, with a social media synapse enactment factor standing alone.

Keywords: roles, public relations, practitioners, UAB, APR, Accreditation, social media, technology

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Title: The Contribution of Public Relations to Organizational Decision Making: Insights from the Literature

Authors: Markus Mykkänen M.A., University of Jyvaskyla, and Marita Vos, Ph.D., University of Jyvaskyla.

Abstract: The purpose of this paper is to clarify the contribution of public relations practitioners to organizational decision making and, in particular, how this has been seen in peer-reviewed journals over the last 10 years. After a literature search, 38 articles originating from 26 different journals were further analyzed using thematic analysis. The period investigated ranged from the start of 2002 to October 2012. In the general literature on the roles of public relations practitioners, their participation in decision making was most frequently discussed in relation to its impact on decision making and enhancing managers’ understanding of the communicative aspects of decision-making processes. In the specialist literature on corporate social responsibility, the giving of strategic advice, along with ethics, crises and public affairs, was also often addressed. It seems that since 2006, the roles of public relations practitioners in facilitating decision-making processes and in communicating decisions have received more detailed attention. This paper offers a comprehensive picture of the different ways in which public relations practitioners contribute to organizational decision-making processes, showing different combinations of the roles of participator in decision making, and advisor, facilitator and disseminator of organizational decisions. The identification and description of the roles will help practitioners to reflect on their own roles in organizational decision making.

Keywords: public relations, decision making, organizational communication

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Title: Employee Engagement in Relation to Employee-Organization Relationships and Internal Reputation: Effects of Authentic Leadership and Transparent Communication

Authors: Linjuan Rita Men, Ph.D., APR, University of Miami.

Abstract: The current study examines employee engagement as an outcome of internal public relations. Specifically, it tests the how employee engagement is associated with other outcome variables of employee–organization relationships and internal reputation and how it is driven by organizational contextual factors of authentic leadership and transparent communication. Through an online quantitative survey of 400 employees who work for various medium-sized and large corporations in the United States, the study found that employee engagement is positively influenced by quality employee–organization relationships (i.e., employee trust, control mutuality, commitment, and satisfaction) and positive internal reputation. As an antecedent, authentic leadership critically affects the nurturing of an organization’s transparent communication and positive employee relational outcomes, which, in turn, enhance reputation and thus employee engagement. Significant theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

Keywords: employee engagement, employee-organization relationships, internal reputation, authentic leadership, transparent communication

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Title: Guanxi, Gift-Giving, or Bribery? Ethical Considerations of Paid News in China

Authors: Katerina Tsetsura, Ph.D., University of Oklahoma.

Abstract: This research addresses the phenomenon of paid news in China. The study reviewed the English- and Chinese-language literature on the subject of media non-transparency and cultural traditions of gift-giving and guanxi in the Chinese media to explore whether discussions of media bribery are appropriate in the context of the Chinese media environment. The results of an exploratory survey of Chinese media professionals showed that the phenomenon of paid news exists in China, but the ethics of this practice are under scrutiny. The study discusses reasons why this practice exists in China and why some media professionals consider this practice acceptable.

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