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Public Relations 2005 Abstracts

Public Relations Divisions

Comparison of Indirect Sources of Efficacy Information in Pretesting Messages to Prevent Drunken Driving • Ronald B. Anderson, University of Texas at Austin • This experiment tested the impact of two forms of symbolic modeling and verbal persuasion on self-efficacy beliefs and intentions to prevent a friend from driving drunk. Three efficacy-information public service announcements were produced to raise participants; beliefs in their abilities to intervene successfully: a behavioral-modeling message, which demonstrated the prevention skills; a verbal-modeling message, which described the skills; and a persuasive message, which only encouraged intervention.

Beating the Odds: How the American Football League Used Public Relations to “Win” a War Against a Monopoly • William B. Anderson, University of Scranton • No professional sports group ever achieved acceptance as widespread within a single decade’s span as the American Football League (AFL). This study chronicles how the AFL used public relations strategies and tactics to garner public acceptance, which in turn helped convince the older National Football League to merge with the upstart league.

Overcoming the Stigma of Discrimination: Applying a New Management Philosophy and Integrated Communication To Restore The Reputation Of Denny’s Restaurants • Alik Anso, Richard Nelson and Stephen Matthews • Abstract not available.

The Effect of Prior Corporate Reputation on Public Attitudes Toward a Company • Public Suspicion as a Mediating Variable • Jiyang Bae, University of Missouri-Columbia • This study attempted to verify whether prior corporate reputation affects public perceptions toward corporate philanthropic messages and ultimately affects public attitudes toward the company. The study’s five hypotheses were all supported with an experiment method. 72 undergraduate students were participated in this study. Participants inferred corporate charitable giving as a mutually beneficial activity when a company had a good reputation (H 1). Participants inferred corporate charitable giving as a self-interested activity when the company had a bad reputation (H2).

Cultural Awareness: Hispanic Public Relations Practitioners’ Perceptions of Effective Communication with Hispanic Publics • Cristina Proañlo Beazley, University of Louisiana at Lafayette • As the Hispanic publics continue to grow in the United States, public relations departments must be prepared to communicate effectively with them. This exploratory study examines cultural awareness from the viewpoint of Hispanic public relations practitioners who communicate with Hispanic publics as part of their practice. In-depth qualitative interviews were conducted with eleven Hispanic public relations practitioners who work with Hispanic publics.

Building Relationships with Child Publics: Study of the Content of Nutrition Websites for Children • Denise Bortree, University of Florida • Abstract not available.

Finding a Conceptual Basis for Communicating about Terrorism: Is Terrorism ‘Extreme’ Activism? How do we Respond Ethically? • Shannon A. Bowen, University of Houston • Abstract not available.

Engineering the Continuation of a Non-judgmental U.S.-China Relations in the Tumultuous Post-Cold War World: An Overview of the Chinese Public Relations Campaign in the U.S. in 1990s Xiaowei Chen, Louisiana State University • This case study of the Chinese public relations campaign examines the geopolitical-ideopolitical context, identifies the key stakeholders, interprets their message strategy and issue management, and finally, illustrates how the Chinese public relations contributes to the delinkage of the U.S.-China trade from human rights issue.

A Study of Journalists’ Perception of Candidates’ Websites and Their Relationships with the Campaign Organization in Taiwan’s 2004 Presidential Election • Yi-Ning Katherine Chen, National Cheng-Chi University • This investigation is designed to gain insight into what the perceptions are for journalists in using a candidate’s website as a news gathering tool. Drawing upon the somewhat limited research to date, this study also seeks to explore how journalists’ perception of the websites affects their relationships with the campaign organization. The results show that the some of the perceptions of such websites, as related to the relationship components, suggest that a candidate’s website may enhance this relationship.

Closing the Deal: The Use of Snow & Benfords’s Core Framing Functions on Activist Websites • Erik L. Collins, University of South Carolina, Lynn M. Zoch, University of Miami and Daniel C. Walsh, University of South Carolina • The researchers used an adapted version of the core framing functions model first introduced by Snow and Benford (1988) in conjunction with a content analysis of Websites to discover whether activist organizations are using methods described in the theory to strengthen the communication on their Websites.

Ethical Discussion in Peer Reviewed Public Relations Journals: A Content Analysis • Benton Danner and Michael A. Mitrook, University of Florida • Content analysis concerning the nature of ethical discussion in peer reviewed public relations journals was performed on a total of 721 articles from four scholarly journals covering the period 1998-2004.

An Evolutionary Model of Organization-Activist Relationships • Elizabeth Dougall • University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill • The propositions of an evolutionary model of organization-activist relationships are advanced anticipating associations between variations in the public opinion environment of an organizational population and the evolution of organization-activist relationships. Variations are described using four dimensions: stability (turnover of issues), complexity (the number of issues in the issue set), intensity (volume of media coverage), and direction (favorability of media coverage for the focal population).

Legal Implications of IMC for Public Relations •Kathy R. Fitzpatrick, DePaul University• The application of First Amendment commercial speech doctrine to integrated marketing communication (IMC) demonstrates that the integration of public relations with advertising and marketing may dilute the constitutional protection afforded corporate speech. This analysis of U.S. Supreme Court decisions shows that by combining political expression, i.e., public relations, with commercial expression, i.e., advertising and marketing, a corporation may expand the range of communications that may be defined and regulated as commercial speech.

The Status of Public Relations Research in the Leading Journals between 1995 and 2004 • Eyun-Jung Ki and Hyoungkoo Khang, University of Florida • This study analyzes the trends, patterns and rigors of research studies pertaining to public relations through a content analysis of published public relations articles from two leading public relations journals between 1995 and 2004. Four hundred and three articles from the two journals were collected. Each article was coded by the year of its publication, the name of the journal, author(s)’ name, affiliation, and country of author(s)’ affiliation, research topics, research methods, sampling methods, response rates, intercoder reliability, and statistical analysis.

Exploring Town-Gown Relations: Community Relations in a University Setting • Sei-Hill Kim, Brigitta R. Brunner and Margaret Fitch-Hauser, Auburn University • Analyzing data from a telephone survey of local residents, this study examined the role of community relations in higher education. Our data supported the idea that various contributions to local communities may produce a favorable pubic image of a university. More importantly, residents who were more aware of the contributions showed greater willingness to support the university.

The News Release Format For The 21 Century: A Receiver-Based Model For The Electronic Medium • Thomas Klipstone, University of South Carolina • A content analysis of electronic news releases shows that electronic news releases are basically an electronic version of traditional print public relations material that is not being formatted or structured to fit the qualities and advantages of the electronic medium. This study reviews the current status of the electronic news release format and suggests an electronic news release format suited to take advantage of the qualities of the receiver-based medium.

Christina’s Doin’ It… So Should I? • The Nature of Celebrity Health Advocacy and Advice in Media • Julie C. Lellis, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill • Abstract not available.

Crisis Communications Preparedness Among U.S. Organizations: Activities and Assessments by Public Relations Practitioners • Rhegan McDaniel and Kirk Hallahan, Colorado State University • A survey of U.S. public relations practitioners (n=126) found that three-quarters of their employer organizations have a written crisis communications plan and that organizations, as a whole, were reasonably prepared to engage in crisis communications. Preparedness was measured based on the presence of a crisis plan as well as a tactics index; a training index; indices related to the maintenance of lists of employees, media and stakeholders; and the monitoring of the print and broadcast media and the Internet.

Assessing and Managing Reputation among Multiple Stakeholder Groups of a Health Care Organization Seen Through the Lens of Identity and Identification • Angela K. Mak, Iowa State University • This paper uses PeaceHealth Medical Group as an example to assess a health care organization’s reputation among various key stakeholder groups seen through the lens of identity and identification. An elite interview and eight focus groups (i.e. donors, volunteers, community leaders, local community, support staff, media, nurses, and doctors) were conducted. The different dimensions of primary and secondary reputation from stakeholder groups revealed that a reputation held by a specific stakeholder group is based on the strength of its relationship with the organization.

The Syllogism of Apologia: Rhetorical Stasis Theory and Crisis Communication • Charles Marsh, University of Kansas • Rhetorical stasis theory – the process of identifying a debate’s core issue – can provide a hierarchical structure for crisis response strategies. The author proposes that the accusation in a crisis situation – the kategoria — has a syllogistic form, allowing crisis managers to decide whether to attack an accusation at its minor premise level, major premise level or conclusion. Stasis theory posits three content-related issues categories.

Is the Press Legitimizing the “Truth”? An Examination of the Third Party Endorsements of the “Truth” National Anti- tobacco Campaign • Jensen Moore and Fred Vultee, University of Missouri-Columbia • This study used discourse analysis to examine the positive press coverage (i.e. third party endorsements) of the “Truth” national anti-tobacco campaign. Thirty-nine national and regional articles from 1999-2005 were analyzed. The findings provide insights into the central themes, identifiable images, and dominant discourse presented by the media about the campaign. Results of this study are important because little is known about the legitimizing force of the press in regard to these campaigns.

Why do Students Major In Public Relations? A Study of Factors Influencing a Student’s Choice of Major, and Gender Similarities and Differences • Gina J. Noble, Oklahoma State University • This study surveyed public relations majors to determine the factors influencing the selection of their major in an effort to help public relations educators, advisers and counselors better understand the motivations and expectations of these students. The study attempts to provide information regarding why students decide to major in public relations, how students perceive the major and its job opportunities, common misperceptions regarding the profession, and gender similarities and differences of students selecting the major.

Sources and Synergies: News Media Discussion of Public Relations and Ethics • Bonnie Parnell Riechert, University of Tennessee • News media discussion of public relations and ethics is investigated in a computer-assisted content analysis of articles mentioning both “public relations” and “ethics” in The New York Times from 1988-2004. Themes in coverage are identified. The Public Relations Society of America and its code of ethics are represented in the coverage, indicating some success in frame sponsorship. The phrase “public relations” is used in a variety of ways; implications for practitioners and educators are discussed.

Effects of Endorsement Type and Expertise Indicators on Web Credibility • Amy Robinson-Russ and Marilee Long, Colorado State University • This study investigated the effects of endorsement type and author expertise on online credibility. It was hypothesized that subjects would perceive an online message endorsed by a third party (news organization) as more credible than one endorsed by a first party (corporation), and that subjects who received additional author information would assign higher credibility to the message than those who received the author’s name. Results showed no significant difference in how subjects perceived message credibility.

The Dialogic Potential of Weblogs in Relationship Building • Trent Seltzer, University of Florida • Previous research has revealed a gap between the relationship-building potential of traditional Websites, the objectives of public relations practitioners, and the actual design of organizational Web sites. A content analysis of 50 environmental weblogs was conducted to identify the existence of dialogic principles that can be used to effectively build relationships online. Comparisons between weblogs and traditional Web sites suggest that weblogs may incorporate these principles to a greater degree than traditional Web sites.

The Death of the Models: A Meta-Analysis of Modem Dimensions in Public Relations • Bey-Ling Sha, San Diego State University • In recent years, the venerated models of public relations have been reconceptualized as dimensions of public relations behavior. This article examines the internal reliabilities of items across three studies constructing the “classic dimensions” of two-way, symmetrical, ethical, interpersonal, and mediated communication – as well as the “cutting-edge dimensions” of social activities and conservation – concluding with recommendations of specific items shown by meta-analysis to be the most valid measures of the new dimensions of public relations.

Crossing boundaries: Comparing online media relations of Fortune 100 companies’ U.S. vs. China corporate sites • Ying Sun, Ohio University • While Web sites have become important corporate communications tools globally, no research has addressed the application of the Web to media relations in an international setting. This exploratory study compared media relations strategies as evident in the U.S. and Chinese corporate sites of American companies. Using content analysis, this paper examined how these sites address journalists’ information needs and facilitate two-way symmetrical communication, and investigated how country-specific contexts influence the application of public relations models

Strategic Public Relations Based on a Scenario Approach: A Case of an Insurance Company • MinJung Sung, University of New York • Abstract not available.

Lowering the Bar: Privileged Court Filings as Substitutes for Press Releases in the Court of Public Opinion • Samuel Terilli, Sigman Splichal and Paul Driscoll University of Miami • In the civil lawsuit against Kobe Bryant for sexual assault, the judge admonished lawyers for engaging in “public relations litigation” – the use of pleadings to attract media attention and try cases in the court of public opinion. This paper looks at the legal ramifications of such practices. It concludes that lawyers and public relations professionals can responsibly use court documents to communicate with the public, so long as they do not abuse the process.

Lobbying as Advocacy Public Relations and its “Unspoken” Code of Ethics • Kati A. Tusinski, University of Oregon • This paper examines lobbying as a form of advocacy public relations. Interviews and document analysis are used to illustrate the advocacy function of lobbying and questions the ethics of such work. This research fills two visible gaps in the public relations body of knowledge by continuing to develop advocacy as a function of public relations and by contributing to the development of lobbying as a profession by studying the ethical frameworks lobbyists employ to their work.

Organizational Credibility as a function of Source Trust • Edward Vieira and Susan Grantham, University of Hartford • This study examined the role of affect and reason in cognitive involvement, comprehension, message credibility, and subsequent attitude formation. The results indicate that the model was driven by comprehension and involvement in processing the message. The non-profit designation (versus for-profit) was significantly linked to level of involvement with the message and subsequently source credibility and a positive attitude toward the topic.

Cross-National Conflict Shifting: A Case Study of the DuPont Teflon Crisis in China • Yimin Wang and Juan-Carlos Molleda, University of Florida • The purpose of this paper is to illustrate and support the theory of cross-national conflict shifting through a case study of a transnational crisis, the DuPont Teflon crisis in China. This recent corporate crisis originated from the United States due to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s administrative action against DuPont, which instantly shifted to China where it transformed into a consumer product safety crisis. A triangulation of qualitative and quantitative methods was used.

Fund Raising on the Internet: A Content Analysis of ePhilanthropy Trends on the Internet sites of the Organizations on the Philanthropy 400 • Richard D. Waters, University of Florida • To evaluate the current status of ePhilanthropy, a stratified random sample of the Chronicle of Philanthropy’s “Philanthropy 400” was content analyzed for variables identified in practitioner and scholarly literature on accountability, fund-raising practices, and communication strategies. Analysis found that the top fund-raising organizations provided their annual reports, organizational goals, and mission statements while second tier organizations were more likely to use a sales and marketing approach by using e-commerce technology to process on-line donations.

The Practitioner Roles of Fund Raising: An Assessment of Gender Differences • Richard D. Waters and Kathleen S. Kelly, University of Florida and Mary Lee Walker, Consultant Orlando, FL • A national study of members of the Association for Healthcare Philanthropy found that Kelly’s (1998) adaptation of public relations roles-liaison, expert prescriber, problem-solving process facilitator, and technician-account for the daily activities of fund-raising practitioners. Similar to public relations studies, all but the last role were found to be highly correlated, indicating a two role typology might be a better descriptor. One-way ANOVAs revealed that males enacted managerial roles more than females; however, no significant differences were found for the technician role.

Web Presence of Universities: Is Higher Education Sending the Right Message Online? • Elizabeth M. Will and Coy Callison, Texas Tech University • Web sites of the 3738 U.S.-based colleges and universities were sampled and analyzed to determine how higher education employs the internet to communicate to key publics overall and students in particular. analysis revealed prospective donors are the most often-targeted public followed by faculty/staff. Prospective and current students followed. In better news to students, the five items students most often seek on the Web were the five most common items linked from university home pages.

A Benchpoint Global Analysis of How Research is Used in Public Relations Throughout the World • Donald K. Wright, University of South Alabama and Michelle Hinson, University of Florida • Although research has been an important part of public relations for more than half a century, the use of research, measurement and evaluation in the field varies dramatically. While many have advocated the use of research through public relations textbooks, the scholarly literature contains few studies measuring how research actually is used in public relations.

An Analysis of Nonprofit Organizations’ Web Pages for Public Relations: Focus on Media Relations, Donor Relations, and Interactive Communication Features • Hye Min Yeon, University of Florida • This study is to examine how the 100 largest nonprofit organizations utilize their Web sites for donor relations, volunteer relations, media relations and their interactive communication features. The result of this study revealed that most of selected organizations were effectively using the Web sites and donor relations were utilized the best. However, there is no relationship neither between public relations activities and grouped Web sites based on the revenues, nor between interactive communication features and the grouped Web sites.

Dictating the News: Understanding Newsworthiness from the Journalistic Perspective • Lynne M. Zoch and Dustin W. Supa, University of Miami • This study looks at previous research done in journalism and public relations to identify eight factors that determine newsworthiness. A content analysis of news releases from public and private corporations was then used to determine if they contained the eight factors identified by the research. The analysis indicated that only two of the eight factors were being used regularly in the releases, and that the majority of the releases would not be considered newsworthy by journalists.


Public Relations Writing: What do Agencies Want? • Kurt Wise, DePaul • This study explored the perceptions of public relations professional working in agency settings concerning the writing skill of entry-level practitioners and public relations writing pedagogy. Focus group participants indicated writing for the Web required a different approach than other writing tasks in an agency setting. Professionals also contended educators spend too much time emphasizing news releases and not enough time on other types of writing such as telephone and/or email pitches.

What Do They Get When They “Give Back?” A Three-Year Study of Public Relations Student Attitudes Toward Civic Engagement • Lisa T. Fall, University of Tennessee • The purpose of this three-year study is to assess how using what students learn in the classroom during internships influences their attitudes toward certain civic engagement issues. Results demonstrate that having more opportunities to use what they learned while on the job significantly predicts career choices as well as attitudes toward who they believe benefits most (themselves, organization, supervisor, community, target public/s) and how valued they believe their contributions are to their employer and to them personally.

Why are More Women than Men Attracted to the Field of Public Relations? Analyzing Students’ Reasons for Studying PR • J. Rebecca Folmar and Lois A. Boynton, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill • This quantitative study explores why more young women than young men are attracted to the collegiate study of public relations and choose to join the public relations workforce professionally. Women’s reasons for being attracted to public relations included: it is a profession for which they feel well-suited, allowing opportunities for relationship building, interpersonal communication, and creativity; and it is a broad, portable career path that allows opportunities for advancement as well as flexibility for family demands.

The Gatekeeper Interview Assignment: Teaching Public Relations Students How to Write for the News Media and to Conduct Media Relations Effectively • Elizabeth A. Johnson and Lynne M. Sallot, University of Georgia • This study uses the results of two focus group discussions, and telephone and e-mail interviews with 33 students who had completed “gatekeeper interviews” in public relations writing courses to judge the pedagogical value of the assignment. The gatekeeper interview requires students to interview in the newsroom working journalists who make decisions about using content that has a public relations practitioner influence in the news.

Teaching (About) International Public Relations: An Examination of Individual and Institutional Attributes of Public Relations Educators in the United States • Angela K. Mak and Jane W. Peterson, Iowa State University • This paper updates Parker’s (1995) international public relations (IPR) education study by surveying PR educators on the AEJMC PRD mailing list. Results show significant changes in the past ten years in international perspectives in PR courses, the number of IPR courses offered by schools, and individual and institutional attributes between educators who teach IPR and those who do not. Suggestions for PR educators, school administrators, and graduate students in the US are discussed.

Building a Stronger PRSSA chapter: What Self Determination Theory Tells Us About the Importance of Motivation and Need Satisfaction • Robert S. Pritchard, Vincent F. Filak and Lindsay L. Beach, Ball State University • This study uses self-determination theory to predict the impact of need satisfaction and intrinsic motivation on PRSSA members. While higher levels of need satisfaction universally predicted more positive ratings of both the PRSSA chapter and adviser, Teahan award winners were significantly more positive in their ratings of all of these variables. Furthermore, students who felt more intrinsically motivated reported a greater likelihood that they would persist in PRSSA and transition to PRSA upon graduation.

Sources and Synergies: News Media Discussion of Public Relations and Ethics • Bonnie Parnell Riechert, Tennessee • Abstract not available.

Portrayal of Public Relations in Mass Communication Textbooks • Candace White and Thomasena Shaw, University of Tennessee • A qualitative textual analysis of how public relations is portrayed in the most commonly used textbooks in introductory mass communication courses was conducted to see if portrayal has improved since Carolyn Cline’s similar study in 1982. The theoretical premise was that the literature indicates that journalists are socialized to hold negative attitudes toward public relations, and that socialization begins in the academy. Results show portrayal has improved, but negative attitudes continue to be expressed in textbooks.

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