Public Relations 2017 Abstracts

What’s the “Right” Thing to Do? How Ethical Expectations for CSR Influence Company Support • Lucinda Austin; Barbara Miller, Elon University; Seoyeon Kim, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill • This study investigated a new concept in corporate social responsibility (CSR) research—publics’ perceived ethical obligation of companies to address CSR, comparing low- and high-fit CSR programs when companies contribute negatively to social issues through their products or processes. Through a mixed-design experiment, findings revealed that participants placed higher expectations for ethical obligation on corporations in high-fit CSR scenarios. Additionally, ethical expectations—when met—influenced participants’ attitudes about and supportive intentions towards the company.

Risky Business: Exploring Differences in Marketplace Advocacy and High-fit CSR on Public Perceptions of Companies • Barbara Miller, Elon University; Lucinda Austin • A between-subjects experiment explored differences in outcomes for high-fit corporate social responsibility (CSR) versus marketplace advocacy programs. Findings revealed that marketplace advocacy, as compared to high-fit CSR, led to increased skepticism and attributions of egoistic motives, and decreased attributions of values-driven motives, company attitudes, attitudes about the social initiative, and supportive intentions.

Testing Perceptions of Organizational Apologies after a Data Breach Crisis • Joshua Bentley, Texas Christian University; Liang Ma, Texas Christian University • This study used a 2x2x2x2x2 experimental design (1,630 participants) to test stakeholder reactions to four apology elements in two data breach scenarios. All four elements, expressing remorse, acknowledging responsibility, promising forbearance, and offering reparations contributed to participants’ perception that the organization had apologized. In a high blame scenario, remorse and forbearance were even more important. Acknowledging responsibility did not have a significant effect on organizational reputation, future purchase intention, or negative word of mouth intentions.

Giving from the heart: Exploring how ethics of care emerges in corporate social responsibility • Melanie Formentin, Towson University; Denise Bortree, Penn State University • Public relations-based corporate social responsibility (CSR) research largely focuses on organizational goals; scholars rarely examine CSR impacts. In this paper, nonprofit-organization relationships are explored, illustrating how ethics of care is an appropriate normative perspective for encouraging CSR that privileges the beneficiary’s needs (Held, 2006). Depth interviews with 29 nonprofit representatives addressed scholarly gaps. Inductive analysis revealed that nonprofit practitioners describe good CSR as being concerned with themes related to trust, mutual concern, promoting human flourishing, and responsiveness to needs.

Whose responsibility? Connecting Organizational Transgressors with Government Regulating Institution • ZHUO CHEN, The Chinese University of Hong Kong; Yi-Hui Huang, The Chinese University of Hong Kong • This study examines the underlying logic of situational crisis communication theory (SCCT), i.e., the concept that organizational transgressors are independent from the broader “institution” of their environment. Based on analysis of a case of false medical advertising (the Baidu-Wei Zexi case), our study contends that the responsibility attributed subject of a crisis should be extended from the corporate transgressor (Baidu and the hospital involved) to an institutional subject— the government regulating institution. Accordingly, we believe that the intensifying factors (consistency and distinctiveness) and consequential factors (affective and behavioral) should be modified. Using structural equation modeling (SEM) analysis, the empirical findings support this argument; for example, attributing responsibility to the government regulating institution rather than to a corporate transgressor can provide a more powerful predictor of activist action. Similarly, negative emotion about corporate transgressors can damage affective attitudes towards the government regulating institution. All in all, this study expands the theoretical scope of attributed subjects in SCCT—linking corporate wrongdoers to their government regulating institution. Thus, our study calls for revisiting the underlying logic of SCCT and contends that a corporate actor is indeed intertwined with the broader institution.

President Donald Trump Meets HBCU Presidents: A Public Relations Post-Mortem • George Daniels, The University of Alabama; Keonte Coleman • When President Donald Trump welcomed more than 60 presidents of the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) to the Oval Office for a photo opportunity in February 2017, he made history in the size of the crowd in his office. A textual analysis of 44 news articles and 22 statements of the HBCU presidents shows national media played up controversies while local media gave the HBCU leaders an opportunity to advocate for more resources.

Linking SNS and Government-Citizen Relationships: Interactivity, Personification, and Institutional Proximity • Chuqing Dong; Hyejoon Rim, University of Minnesota • Recent years have seen an increasing adoption of social network sites (SNS) in governments at all levels, but limited research examined the effectiveness of the government using SNS that may differ by institutional proximities (e.g., federal, state, and local). To fill the gap, the study explored the interactive and interpersonal approaches of relationship management in the context of government SNS communication. Specifically, two experiments were employed to examine the effects of interactivity, organizational characters, and institutional proximity in predicting the public’s perceived government transparency, engagement intention with government SNS, and trust in government. The study found that agencies at the state and local levels would benefit to different degrees in the government-citizen relationship quality based on the two communication strategies. Moreover, the results encouraged authorities to embrace SNS as a relationship-building tool by replying more to individual citizens’ comments, use a personal tone in conversations, and post more of citizen-oriented contents instead of organization-centered information. Theoretical and practical contributions are discussed in the context of the Organization-Public Relationships (OPR) in the public sector.

Using Real and Fictitious Companies to Examine Reputation and News Judgments in Press Release Usage • Kirstie Hettinga, California Lutheran University; Melanie Formentin, Towson University • This study uses an experimental design to explore working journalists’ (N = 253) willingness to use or reference press releases that contain typos. The authors explore whether company reputation can overcome errors. The use of both real and fictitious companies yielded interesting findings for future public relations research. The reputations of existing companies, Starbucks and Dunkin’ Donuts, were rated more favorably than a fake company, and press release judgments most strongly predicted potential usage.

CSR, Hybrid, or Ability Frames: Examining How Story Frames Impact Stakeholders’ Perceptions • Michel Haigh, Texas State University; Frank Dardis, Penn State University; Holly Ott, University of South Carolina; Erica Bailey, Penn State University • This study examines the impact of corporate social responsibility messaging strategies and messages frames on stakeholders’ perceptions of organizations through a 3 (ability/CSR/hybrid) x 2 (thematic/episodic) online experiment. Results indicated that corporate social responsibility and hybrid strategies perform significantly better than the ability strategy when thematic framing is employed, but that the ability strategy performs well in the episodic-framing condition. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Is social media worth of investment? Seeking relationship between social-mediated stakeholder engagement and nonprofit public donation–a big data approach • Grace Ji; Don Stacks • The majority of investigations in nonprofit public relations have been continuously studying how and whether nonprofit organizations (NPOs) can maximize the full potentials of social media to engage stakeholders online. Yet few have questioned if social media-based stakeholder engagement can impact organizational outcomes that happen both on and offline, such as public donation. Taking the stakeholders’ perceptive, this study attempts to examine the effect of Facebook-based stakeholder engagement with NPOs on organizations’ fundraising success. Using Ordinary Least Square estimation method with lagged variables, the authors modeled nine-year longitudinal social media and financial penal data from the largest 100 NPOs in the United States. Results suggest that not all stakeholder engagements are significant predicators for charitable donation. Only liking and commenting engagement behaviors are positively associated with public donation, but sharing behavior does not improve fundraising success. More interestingly, over posting could associate with a decrease in public donation. The findings bring new empirical insights to existing literature and also practical implications to non-profit public relations professionals.

An Examination of Social Media from an Integrated Marketing Communication (IMC) Perspective in Global & Regional Organizations • Hua Jiang; Marlene Neill, Baylor University • Communication executives perceive internal social media as a channel that should be integrated and consistent with other communication messages, and also understand the necessity of coordinating with other communication disciplines. Through in-depth interviews with 28 internal and social media communication executives working in the United States, we found evidence of both true collaboration and functional silos. We also examined social media policies and resources provided to empower employees as social media ambassadors. Implications and recommendations were discussed.

The Rashomon Effect of an Air Crash: Examining the Narrative Battle over the Smolensk Disaster • Liudmila Khalitova, University of Florida; Barbara Myslik, University of Florida; Agnieszka Turska-Kawa, University of Silesia in Katowice, Poland; Sofiya Tarasevich, University of Florida; Spiro Kiousis, University of Florida • The study explores the agenda-building efforts by Russian and Polish governments in shaping international news coverage of the airplane crash near Smolensk, Russia, which killed the Polish President. Compared to the two governments’ public relations messages, Polish and Russian news outlets played a more significant role as their countries’ advocates in determining the international media agenda. Moreover, the Russian media seemed more influential than the Polish outlets in shaping the international narrative about the crash.

Growth of Public Relations Research Networks: A Bibliometric Analysis • Eyun-Jung Ki, University of Alabama; Yorgo Pasadeos, University of Alabama; Tugce Ertem Eray, University of Oregon • This research reports on a 6-year citation study of published scholarly research in public relations between 2010 and 2015 in comparison with Pasadeos, Berger, and Renfro (2010) and Pasadeos, Renfro and Hanily’s (1999) works, which examined the literature’s most-cited works in the 2000s and 1990s respectively and identified a research network. Like the two earlier studies, this study identifies current authors and their publication outlets, taxonomizes most-cited works, and draws a co-citation network. Comparing the current study’s findings with those of ten and twenty years earlier helps us understand how the field has evolved as a scholarly discipline and offers future directions for study.

Enhancing Employee Sensemaking and Sensegiving Communication Behaviors in Crisis Situations: Strategic Management Approach for Effective Internal Crisis Communication • Young Kim, Marquette University • Understanding employees and their communication behaviors is essential for effective crisis communication. Such an internal aspect of crisis communication, however, has been undervalued, and the need for research has been recently growing. To fill the research gap, the aim of this research is to explore effective internal crisis communication within the strategic management approach, considering employee communication behaviors for sensemaking and sensegiving and their antecedents. A nationwide survey in the U.S. was conducted among full-time employees (N =544). This study found that two-way symmetrical communication and transparent communication were positively strong antecedents of employee communication behaviors for sensemaking and sensegiving in crisis situations, controlling for other effects.

Bless or Curse: How Chinese Strategic Communication Practitioners Use Social Media in Crisis Communication • Sining Kong; Huan Chen, University of Florida • This paper aims to examine how Chinese strategic communication practitioners use social media in crisis communication. In-depth interview was used to collect data from twenty Chinese strategic communication practitioners, who have experience in dealing with crises and issues via social media. A model was advanced and depicted how to use social media to monitor and respond to crises, and how to use social media, especially the live broadcast, to mitigate publics’ negative emotions to rebuild positive relationship with publics.

Unpacking the Effects of Gender Discrimination in the Corporate Workplace on Consumers’ Affective Responses and Relational Perceptions • Arunima Krishna, Boston University; Soojin Kim, Singapore Management University • The purpose of this study was to investigate (a) how allegations of gender discrimination impact consumers’ relationship with the brand in question, and (b) individual-level factors that impact consumers’ negative affective response to the allegations and eventually, consumer-brand relationships. Findings from a survey conducted among U.S. Americans indicate that individuals’ relational perceptions with a corporate brand whose products/services they consume are negatively affected by allegations of misconduct, in this case, gender discrimination. Results revealed that individuals’ moral orientation and anti-corporate sentiment predicted their perceptions of moral inequity of corporate behavior, which in turn impacted their negative affective response to the allegations. Such negative affective response then impacted individuals’ consumer-corporate brand relationships. Theoretical and practical implications of this work are discussed (120 words).

Crisis Information Seeking and Sharing (CISS): Scale Development for Measuring Publics’ Communicative Behavior in Social-Mediated Public Health Crises • Yen-I Lee, University of Georgia; Yan Jin, University of Georgia • Although publics’ information seeking and sharing behaviors have gained increasing importance in crisis communication research, consistent conceptualization and reliable scales for measuring these two types of communicative behavior, especially in social-mediated crises, are lacking. With a focus on public health crisis situations, this study first refined the conceptual framework of publics’ communicative behavior in social-mediated health crises. Then two multiple-item scales for measuring publics’ crisis information seeking and sharing (CISS) in public health crises were developed and tested by employing online survey dataset from a random national sample of 559 adults in the United States. Results indicate that there are eight types of crisis information seeking behavior and 18 types of crisis information sharing behavior, online and offline, crossing over platforms, channels and information sources. The two CISS scales reveal underlying processes of publics’ communicative behavior and provide a valid and reliable psychometric tool for public relations researchers and crisis communication managers to measure publics’ information seeking and sharing activities in social-mediated public health crisis communication.

Enhancing Empowerment and Building Relationships via Social Media Engagement: A Study of Facebook Use in the U.S. Airline Industry • Zhiren Li, University of Florida; Rita Linjuan Men, University of Florida • Born in the Web 2.0 era, social media platforms have altered the way people communicate and collaborate with others and with organizations. This study uses Facebook to examine the U.S. airline companies’social media engagement with their consumers. By conducting a web-based quantitative survey, our findings suggest that social media engagement in the U.S. airline industry has a positive influence on airline-customer relationships. Social media empowerment also mediates the effect of social media engagement on overall organization-public relationships. However, the results of our findings differ somewhat from previous studies, hence, we call for further research on social media engagement and organization-public relationships.

Is Experience in Fact the Best Teacher? Learning in Crisis Communication • Clila Magen, Bar Ilan University • The following study deals with the crisis communication learning process of organizations in the private sector. It indicates that if there is any crisis communication improvement it is primarily on the exterior layer. In the cases analyzed in the study, very few profound changes were apparent when the organizations faced recurring crises. Despite the promising potential which lies within the Chaos Theory for crisis communication, the research demonstrates that a crisis will not necessarily lead to self-organizing processes which push the organization to improvement and advancement.

How Should Organizations Communicate with Mobile Publics on Social Messengers: An Empirical Study of WeChat • Rita Linjuan Men, University of Florida; sunny tsai, university of miami • Mobile-based social messengers are overtaking social networking sites as the new frontier for organizations to engage online stakeholders. This study provides one of the earliest empirical studies to understand how organizations should communicate with mobile publics to enhance public engagement and improve organization-public relationships. This study focuses on WeChat—one of the world’s most popular social messaging apps. Organizations’ information dissemination, interpersonal communication, and two-way symmetrical communication are found to effectively drive public engagement, which in turn enhances relation outcomes. Strategic guidelines based on the study findings are provided.

Crisis Management Expert: Elements and Principles for Measuring Expert Performance • Tham Nguyen, University of Oklahoma; Jocelyn Pedersen, University of Oklahoma • Crisis management or crisis communication has become an important research area and recommended course for college students studying public relations and communication. Yet, it takes time for students or average professionals to transfer knowledge into practice in order to be considered an expert in the field. In a study of twenty-five in-depth interviews with Belgian crisis communication practitioners, Claeys and Opgenhaffen (2016) found that practitioners relied mainly on experience, scientific research, gut feelings and intuition rather than theories to respond to a crisis. This study also noted that decision-making about crisis communication depends on the circumstances, particularly, when the crisis involves potential legal issues or when it threatens to damage an organization’s reputation and its many important relationships. Organizational decision makers sometimes call on experts to help them reduce the uncertainty and ambiguity of the situation they face. Yet, when is it appropriate to call an expert in a crisis situation? And how can decision makers gain the most from what a crisis management expert can offer? By reviewing literature in crisis management and expert performance, this conceptual paper discusses what experts and decision makers are, the relationship between crisis experts and decision makers, and it outlines elements and principles to consider in developing a measurement system for expert performance. In addition, the paper proposes a general model for crisis management expert performance. Concluding thoughts will provide suggestions about what to consider before calling a crisis management expert and what decision makers should expect from crisis experts.

A Qualitative Analysis of How People Assess the Credibility of Sources Used by Public Relations Practitioners • Julie O’Neil, Texas Christian University; Marianne Eisenmann, inVentiv Health; Maggie Holman, Texas Christian University • This study examined how people assess the credibility of sources used commonly by public relations practitioners—earned news stories, traditional advertisements, native advertisements, independent blogs and corporate blogs. Researchers conducted five groups with 46 participants and implemented a survey with 1,500 participants recruited from a consumer panel. Participants view earned media stories as the most credible. Regardless of source utilized, people value strong writing, copious facts and balanced perspectives when processing public relations messaging.

Examining the role of Culture in Shaping Public Expectations of CSR Communication in the United States and China • Holly Ott, University of South Carolina; Anli Xiao, the Pennsylvania State University • This study examines the role of culture in shaping publics’ expectations for CSR communication through survey research in the United States (N = 316) and China (N = 315). Results highlight differences in each public’s expectations of what and how companies should communicate CSR. Among Hofstede’s cultural dimensions, uncertainty avoidance and masculinity are identified as the strongest predictors for CSR variables. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

Where are the women? An examination of the status of research on women and leadership in public relations • Katie Place, Quinnipiac University; Jennifer Vardeman-Winter, Univ. of Houston • Despite evidence that there are no significant differences in leadership ability among women and men in public relations, women are still largely absent from leadership and senior management positions. Furthermore, very few studies about leadership in public relations have considered the affect gender has on leadership enactment and success. Therefore, this secondary analysis examined the state of women and gender scholarship about leadership in public relations as part of a larger study about the state of women in the communication discipline. Specifically, our research found that the majority of the research about leadership and gender highlights women’s lackluster leadership presence, factors contributing to women’s lack of presence, leadership styles and preferences, and leadership and management roles of women. This manuscript provides recommendations for improving women’s presence in leadership roles, particularly in providing a roadmap for future research opportunities. These include considerations for methodological approaches, leadership approaches and roles research, types of leadership, cultural change, and education.

Changing the Story: Implications of Narrative on Teacher Identity • Geah Pressgrove; Melissa Janoske, University of Memphis; Stephanie Madden, University of Memphis • This study takes a qualitative approach to understanding the connections between narrative, professional identity and reputation management in public education. Central to the findings are the factors that have led to a reputation crisis for the profession of teaching and thus contribute to the national teacher shortage. Ultimately, this study points to the notion that increasing retention and recruitment can be effected when narratives are understood and the principles of reputation management are applied.

Spokesperson is a four-letter word: Public relations, regulation, and power in Occupy New York • Camille Reyes, Trinity University • “This case study analyzes interviews with members of the press relations working group of Occupy Wall Street in New York. Using critical cultural theory as well as history, the group’s media relations tactics are discussed with an emphasis on the role of spokesperson, revealing contested meanings about public relations work in the context of a social movement. The moments of regulation and production in the circuit of culture explain the constraints experienced by many of these activist practitioners as they navigate the horizontal structure/ideal of their movement with hierarchical norms of more institutional public relations practices—creating a paradox of sorts. How does one defy the status quo when seeking to engage with a mainstream media system that—to their eyes—is co-opted by the wealthy elite, while using tactics that are seen as equally problematic? Historical analysis lends a comparative frame through which to view a critical cultural interpretation of public relations in an understudied context.

Distal Antecedents of Organization-Public Relationships: The Influence of Motives and Perceived Issue and Value Congruence • Trent Seltzer, Texas Tech University College of Media & Communication; Nicole Lee • Using an online survey of 514 US adults, this study identified which relational antecedents motivated individuals to enter organization-public relationships (OPRs) across a variety of organization types. Additionally, we examined the relative influence of motives, perceived issue congruence, and perceive value congruence on OPR perceptions. Findings suggest social/cultural expectations and risk reduction are the primary motives influencing perceptions of OPRs; however, perceived issue and value congruence with the organization are more influential antecedents than motives.

Does an Organization’s CSR Association affect the Perception of Communication Efforts? • Kang Hoon Sung, Cal Poly Pomona • Organizations often utilize interpersonal communications tactics on social media such as responding to customer comments or adopting a human conversational voice for better evaluations. Past studies have shown that these interpersonal communication tactics could indeed lead to positive outcomes and give the organization a more human and sincere face. The study examined whether the organization’s perceived CSR associations could have an influence in this process. Grounded in prior research on suspicion and organization’s personality dimensions, the current study investigated the influence of organization’s prior CSR associations on the organization’s interpersonal communication efforts that are associated with increasing the sincerity personality dimension (e.g., increased interaction, enhanced conversational tone). The results of the online experiment revealed that CSR activities significantly increased the organization’s perceived sincerity personality dimension and decreased suspicions about motives of the organization’s communication efforts. The mediation analysis suggests that less suspicion leads to more perceived sincerity toward organization, eventually leading to increased relationship quality.

The ‘New York World,’ Byron C. Utecht, and Pancho Villa’s Public Relations Campaign • Michael Sweeney, Ohio University; Young Joon Lim, University of Texas Rio Grande Valley • This paper attempts to assess Francisco “Pancho” Villa not as a general or quasi-politician, but rather as a practitioner of public relations. It investigates, by close observation of his actions and words, his strategy and tactics to build support among three specifically targeted audiences: the people of Mexico, American war correspondents, and the people of the United States. This paper examines secondary literature about public relations and about Pancho Villa’s life for evidence of his practicing public relations as we understand it today. Supplementing this literature review are primary documents from the archives of Byron C. Utecht at the University of Texas at Arlington. Utecht’s collection consists of his original photographs of his travels in Mexico on behalf of the New York World; telegrams to and from the World; typewritten notes and stories; clippings of his articles in the World and the clients of its wire service; and published interviews with Utecht about his trips into Mexico both as a lone journalist and as an accredited correspondent. It seeks to answer the key question: How did Villa practice public relations?

Ten years after The Professional Bond: Has the academy answered the call in pedagogical research? • Amanda Weed, Ashland University • CPRE is scheduled to release its next report of the status of public relations education in September of 2017. In anticipation of the report, this research seeks to determine if the academy has answered the call of The Professional Bond through an examination of pedagogical research published from 2007 to 2016 in four academic journals including the Journal of Advertising Education, the Journalism & Mass Communication Education, the Journal of Public Relations Education, and Public Relations Review. By conducting a meta-analysis of published research through a content analysis of article types, themes, and topics, this research determined that pedagogical research in public relations is lacking, especially among the topics specifically addressed in The Professional Bond.

The Role of Dissatisfaction in the Relationship Between Consumer Empowerment and Their Complaining Behavioral Intentions • Hao Xu, University of Minnesota – Twin Cities; Jennifer Ball, Temple University • This experimental study examined the mechanism of how consumer complaining behavioral intentions are driven by social media empowerment, and the role of dissatisfaction in this mechanism. The results revealed that dissatisfaction has both mediating and moderating effects in the relationship between consumer empowerment and some of the specific complaining behavioral intentions. Both theoretical and practical implications in terms of the dynamics of consumer dissatisfaction and power-induced complaining intentions were discussed.

Partisan News Media and China’s Country Image: An Online Experiment based on Heuristic-Systematic Model • Chen Yang, University of Houston – Victoria; Gi Woong Yun, University of Nevada, Reno • Based on Heuristic-Systematic Model, this research used a 2×2 pretest-posttest experimental design to measure China’s image after participants’ exposure to the news stimuli about China from a partisan media website. Two manipulated factors were media partisanship (congruent or incongruent partisan media) and news slant (positive or negative coverage of China). The results did not demonstrate any priming effect of news coverage. However, media partisanship had a significant influence on country beliefs. Significant interaction effects on country beliefs and desired interaction were also found.

NGOs’ humanitarian advocacy in the 2015 refugee crisis: A study of agenda building in the digital age • Aimei Yang, University of Southern California; Adam Saffer • In the 2015 European refugee crisis, humanitarian NGOs offered help and actively advocated for millions of refugees. The current study aims to understand what communication strategies are most effective for humanitarian NGOs to influence media coverage and publics’ social media conversations about the crisis. Our findings reveal that agenda building on traditional media and in social media conversations require different strategies. Specifically, although providing information subsidies could powerfully influence traditional media coverage, its effect waned in the context of social media conversations. In contrast, NGOs’ hyperlink network positions emerged as the one of the most influential predictor for NGOs’ prominence in social media conversations. Moreover, stakeholder engagement could influence agenda-building both in traditional media coverage and social media conversations. Finally, organizational resources and characteristics are important factors as well. Theoretical and practical implications are also discussed.

Using Facebook efficiently: Assessing the impact of organizational Facebook activities on organizational reputation • Lan Ye, State University of New York at Cortland; Yunjae Cheong, Hankuk University of Foreign Studies • This study analyzed 22 companies’ efficiency of using Facebook in reputation management by using data envelopment analysis (DEA). Results reveal that overall, the efficient companies (n =8) posted less frequently than did the inefficient companies (n = 14); companies receiving more engagements were more efficient than those receiving fewer engagements; and companies adopting one main Facebook Page were more efficient than those adopting multiple Facebook Pages. Size and length of history of an organization were not found to affect efficiency outcomes significantly.

The Effects of Behavioral Recommendations in Crisis Response and Crisis Threat on Stakeholders’ Behavioral Intention Outcomes • Xiaochen Zhang, Kansas State University; Jonathan Borden, Syracuse University • This experiment investigates the intersection between crisis threat, self-efficacy, affect and organizational messaging strategies on stakeholder behavioral outcomes in crises. Behavioral recommendations in crisis messages affected stakeholders’ behavioral outcomes through self-efficacy. Negative emotions also mediated behavioral recommendation and threat’s influence on stakeholders’ behavioral outcomes. Results imply that the extended parallel process model has significant implications for crisis management, however increases in stakeholder self-protective behaviors come at the expense of organizational reputation.

Issues Management as a Proactive Approach to Crisis Communication: Publics’ Cognitive Dissonance in Times of Issue-Related Crisis • Xiaochen Zhang, Kansas State University • Through an experiment, this study examines effects of issues management (issues attribution framing) on publics’ response to issue-related crisis. In Coca-Cola and obesity crisis’s case, public-organization identification and issues involvement were identified as predictors of blame, corporate evaluation, and purchase intentions. Results indicated that high identification and high issue involvement publics may experience cognitive dissonance and are more likely to support the organization under the external attribution frame (framing the obesity issue as personal responsibility).

The First Generation: Lessons from the public relations industry’s first university-trained social media practitioners • Luke Capizzo, University of Maryland • Public relations educators are grappling with the best methods to prepare undergraduates for the constantly shifting world of social media practice. The recent graduates (2011-2016) interviewed for this study constitute the first generation of practitioners with robust, formal social media training. Their experiences in school and in the workforce reinforce some current best practices—such as the value of internship experiences, the resonance of case studies, and the importance of excellent writing skills—but also point toward the need for increased emphasis on strategic social media, brand writing, visual communication, and the continued importance of a deeply integrated curriculum. Using social cognitive theory as a guiding framework, this study examines the salience of observational learning, behavior modeling, and self efficacy for building pedagogical theory for the social media classroom.

Unearthing the Facets of Crisis History in Crisis Communication: Testing A Conceptual Framework • LaShonda Eaddy, The University of Georgia • Coombs’s (2004) Situational Crisis Communication Theory (SCCT) identifies performance history, which includes crisis history and relationship history, as an intensifier of attribution of responsibility during crises. The proposed model examines crisis history and its possible roles among various stakeholder groups as well as possible impact on organizational control, crisis emotion and crisis responsibility. The study also offers a crisis history salience scale that was developed based on a thorough literature review as well as in-depth interviews with public relations practitioners, public relations scholars, journalists, and the general public. The crisis history salience scale can assist crisis communicators consider the multiple facets of crisis history during their crisis communication planning and implementation.

Dominant coalition perceptions in health-oriented, non-profit public relations • Torie Fowler, University of Southern Mississippi • Unlike many departments within an organization, public relations is often faced with the task of proving their importance to the dominant coalition. In health-oriented, non-profit organizations, leaders may find it hard to prove their value when patients, research, or life-saving technology takes precedent. This study examined the perceptions of public relations leaders in this specific field regarding their inclusion in the dominant coalition, how they are able to influence decision-making in their organization, and what barriers could keep leaders from obtaining membership into the coalition. This qualitative study included nine in-depth interviews, where four of the nine participants, perceived they were included in the dominant coalition of their organization. Several themes were identified when participants were asked how they were able to influence decision-making, such as: being included early, having credibility, practicing proactive public relations, and devising a strategic plan. Although less than half of the participants believed they were included in the dominant coalition, all of them thought they could influence the decisions made by the dominant coalition in some capacity. There were two consistent barriers to inclusion: a misunderstanding of public relations and an uneducated or inexperienced practitioner. This study contributes to the body of knowledge about public relations by bringing additional insight into how health-oriented, non-profit public relations leaders perceive that they are able to influence decision-making of the dominant coalition. The study also shows how current literature about public relations inclusion in the dominant coalition does not align with actuality for this group of leaders.

Constructing Trust and Confidence amid Crisis in the Digital Era • Jiankun Guo • Using a hypothetical food-poisoning crisis on campus, this qualitative research explored college students’ construction of trust and confidence online/offline via in-depth interviews. It applied the Trust, Confidence, and Cooperation (TCC) Model as a conceptual lens, but added new insights pertaining to the altering media landscape. Results showed that students constructed trust/confidence online according to a variety of factors (message features, sources, sites, and targets), but virtually all of them valued offline “facetime” due to its ability to convey emotional cues. Multimedia, therefore, offered an advantage in offering emotional reassurances via online channels. Participants also viewed trust-/confidence-building from the authority as a fluid process accumulated slowly overtime, regardless of channels. This study contributes to crisis communication scholarship in the digital era, particularly with an aim to facilitate community resilience.

Understanding the Donor Experience: Applying Stewardship Theory to Higher Education Donors • Virginia Harrison, The Pennsylvania State University • This study examines how stewardship strategies and involvement impact organization-public relationship outcomes for higher education donors at three different levels of giving. Findings suggest that stewardship strategies positively predict OPR outcomes, and that donors at different giving levels experience stewardship strategies and OPR outcomes differently. Also, findings reveal that stewardship may include only three strategies. Involvement only slightly moderates the relationship between stewardship and OPR outcomes. Implications for fundraising practice and theory are made.

Stakeholder relationship building in response to corporate ethical crisis : A semantic network analysis of sustainability reports • Keonyoung Park; Hyejin Kim, University of Minnesota-Twin Cities • This study explored how a corporation’s ethical crisis affects the way of sustainability reporting as a crisis communication tool. Especially, this study sheds light on the relationship building with stakeholders after the ethical crisis. To do so, we examined the Korean Air’s sustainability annual reports (SAR) before and after the ‘Nut Rage’ incident using a series of semantic networking analyses. Asiana Airline’s SARs before and after the crash at the San Francisco International Airport were also analyzed to find distinctive characteristics of the ethical crisis. The result suggested that the Korean Air’s SAR seemed to show the importance of relationship with stakeholders after the ethical crisis, while there was no meaningful change after the non-ethical crisis of Asiana Airlines. The results were discussed in relation to the situational crisis communication theory.

What Did You Expect? How Brand Personality Types and Transgression Types Shape Consumers’ Response in a Brand Crisis • Soyoung Lee, The University of Texas at Austin; Ji Mi Hong; Hyunsang Son • The current research examined how different types of brand personality play a role to develop a specific consumers’ expectation toward a brand, and how this expectation works in various ways in different types of brand transgressions. Based on expectancy violation theory and brand transgression research, a 2 (brand personality types: sincerity vs. competence) × 2 (brand transgression types: morality-related vs. competence-related transgression) factorial design was employed. Corporate evaluations and purchase intention toward the brand were considered as dependent variables. The results revealed that a brand having a sincerity personality is more vulnerable to a morality-related transgression. However, there is no difference in consumers’ responses by transgression type for a brand with a competence personality. Findings showed that brand personality types and transgression types can be critical factors to influence consumers’ responses in times of crisis. Theoretical and empirical implications are discussed.

What Makes Employees Stay Silent? The Role of Perceptions of Problem and Organization-Employee Relationship • Yeunjae Lee • This study aims to examine the impacts of individuals’ perceptions of problems and organization-employee relationship on employees’ silence intention during periods of an organizational issue. Using the situational theory of problem-solving (STOPS) and relational theory, this study intends to explore conceptual convergences by building linkages among issue-specific perceptions, relationship, and employee silence. An online survey was conducted for 412 full-time employees working in companies with more than 300 employees in the U.S. Results suggest that individuals’ perceived relationship is negatively related to their problem, constraint recognition, and silence intention, while it is positively related to involvement recognition. Perceptions of constraint recognition and less involvement to an organizational issue are associated with employee silence. Different impacts of individuals’ issue-specific perceptions and relationship were also examined for different types of silence—acquiescent, prosocial, and defensive silence. Theoretical and practical implications are discussed.

“Breaking the Silence”: Segmenting Asian Americans in the United States to Address Mental Health Problems in the Community • Jo-Yun Queenie Li • This article describes an exploratory study designed to investigate the applicability of cultural identity in public segmentation within a racial/ethnic population in order to address mental health issues in Asian community in the United States. Using a pilot survey of 58 Asian Americans, this research employs the acculturation theory and the situational theory of publics to explore individuals’ communication behavior related to mental health issues. By doing so, this study contributes to the (re)conceptualization and operationalization of cultural identity in intercultural public relations discipline and provides practical implications to organizations that target specific racial/ethnic groups. The findings show that Asian Americans who are more highly acculturated in the United States could be considered as the active publics. They may be helpful in spreading out information, reaching out potential publics, encouraging themselves and other members in the community who have suffered from mental health issues to utilize mental health services.

Pouring Water on Conservative Fire: Discourse of Renewal in Facebook’s Response to Allegations of Bias • Tyler G Page, University of Maryland • Using Facebook’s 2016 trending topics crisis, this study applies the message convergence framework and discourse of renewal to analyze an organizational crisis response. The study reports a qualitative analysis of Facebook’s crisis response statements and a quantitative content analysis of 140 blog, magazine, and newspaper articles covering the crisis. Tone of news coverage improved when discourse of renewal strategy was covered and when media coverage included at least one quote from the organization.

Understanding Public Engagement in Sustainability Initiatives: The Situational Theory of Publics and the Theory of Reasoned Action Approaches • Soojin Roh, Syracuse University • In an attempt to extend the situational theory of publics, this study tested a public engagement model to explain how situational factors, subjective norm, and attitudes toward a sustainability initiative influence public’s communication action as well as different types of behavioral engagement intention. An online survey (N=502) was administered to test predictors of participation intent for recycling clothes campaigns and continuous public engagement with the sustainability cause. Structural equation modeling results indicate that problem recognition and constraint recognition are key predictors of information gaining (information seeking, sharing, and processing) and campaign participation intent. Subjective norms and positive attitude toward the campaign lead to the greater likelihood of participating in the campaign. The analysis also yielded a significant association between information gaining and public’s behavioral engagement including civic engagement, suggesting the mediating role of information gaining. Furthermore, the analysis showed a significant direct effect of involvement on civic engagement. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.

Understanding Public Engagement on Digital Media: Exploring Its Effects on Employee-Organization Relationships • Yuan Wang, The University of Alabama • This study examined the effects of employees’ organizational identification and engagement with mobile phones and social media on their relationships with the organization and positive word-of-mouth (WOM) communication through a web-based survey of employees via Amazon’s Mechanical Turk. Findings suggested that employees’ organizational identification significantly influenced their digital media engagement. This study also identified employees’ organizational identification and digital media engagement as new predictors of employee-organization relationships, which, furthermore, led to positive WOM communication.

Defining and Communicating Diversity: A Content Analysis of the Websites of the Top PR Agencies • Anli Xiao, the Pennsylvania State University; Jinyoung Kim; Wunpini Mohammed; Hilton Erica; Colleen Pease • “This paper examines how top PR agencies define diversity, how they express diversity identities and communicate diversity values to prospective employees and clients. Through a content analysis of top PR agencies’ websites, this study finds PR agencies’ defined diversity narrowly and they showed limited efforts in communicating diversity values to future employees and clients. Agency ranking significantly correlated with some diversity efforts communicated. Implications are discussed.

Experiential Learning and Crisis Simulations: Leadership, Decision Making, and Communication Competencies • Hilary Fussell Sisco, Quinnipiac University; John Brummette; Laura Willis, Quinnipiac University; Michael Palenchar, University of Tennesseee • Students benefit from simulation exercises that require them to apply public relations research and theories. Using an experimental learning approach (N=16), this present paper assesses the effectiveness of a crisis simulation exercise using a pre-test/post-test evaluation. Findings suggest that crisis simulation exercises can prepare future practitioners by providing them practices in discipline-centric experiences that also bolster their personal professional development in the areas of leadership, decision making and communication competency.

One Liners and Catchy Hashtags: Building a Graduate Student Community Through Twitter Chats • Melissa Janoske, University of Memphis; Robert Byrd, University of Memphis; Stephanie Madden, University of Memphis • This study takes a mixed-methods approach to understanding how graduate student education and engagement are intertwined, and the ability of an ongoing Twitter chat to increase both. Analysis includes the chats themselves, a mixed-methods survey to chat participants, and memoing completed by the researchers (also faculty chat participants and the chat moderator). Key findings include the importance of building both online and offline connections, the ability of Twitter chats to increase fun and reduce stress, and to gain both tacit and explicit knowledge. Finally, the project offers practical suggestions for those looking to start their own chat series.

Millennial Learners and Faculty Credibility: Exploring the Mediating Role of Out-Of-Class Communication • Carolyn Kim • Every generation experiences distinct events and develops unique values. The Millennial generation is no exception. As Millennial Learners enter classrooms, they bring with them new views about education, learning and faculty/student communication. All of this blends together to influence their perspectives of faculty credibility. This study explores the mediating role of out-of-class communication (OCC) in relation to the historical dimensions known to compose faculty credibility.

Examination of Continuous Response Assessment of Communication Course Presentation Competency • Geoffrey Graybeal, Texas Tech University; Jobi Martinez, Texas Tech University • This study examined the use of continuous response (dial test) technology as a means of providing feedback to improve formal presentations required to meet learning objectives in college communication courses and a variety of assessment strategies utilized in the assignment. Findings suggest that use of video assessment and a student self-assessment have the greatest impact on final presentation performance and that the first dial test pitch should not be graded.

Competition and Public Relations Campaigns: Assessing the Impact of Competition on Projects, Partners, and Students • Chris McCollough, Columbus State University • Scholars in public relations pedagogy have provided a strong body of research on the impact of service learning, community partnerships (Daugherty, 2003), and applied learning in general on campaigns, writing, and production courses common to the public relations curriculum (Wandel, 2005). Rarely explored, however, is the impact of competition among student groups within a public relations course on the quality of campaigns, student experience, client satisfaction, and achievement of learning outcomes (Rentner, 2012). The paper will present a comparative analysis of campaign courses that employed competitive and non-competitive campaign course models to demonstrate the impact of incorporating competition within public relations courses.

Integrating Web and Social Analytics into Public Relations Research Course Design: A Longitudinal Pedagogical Research on Google Analytics Certification • Juan Meng, University of Georgia; Yan Jin; Yen-I Lee, University of Georgia; Solyee Kim, University of Georgia • This longitudinal pedagogical research contributes with integrating web and social analytics-based activities into the Public Relations Research course design. Results from the pre- and post-tests confirmed that students’ knowledge on web and social analytics is low but desire to learn is high. Consistent patterns on learning outcomes suggest more experience-based learning activities are needed to leverage the practical implications of web and social analytics in public relations research and practice. More pedagogical recommendations are discussed.

Media Relations Instruction and Theory Development: Relational Dialectical Approach • Justin Pettigrew, Kennesaw State University • There has been almost no research in the area of media relations or media relations instruction in the public relations literature. This study seeks to fill a gap in theory-building in the area of media relations and examines the state of media relations instruction in today’s public relations curriculum through a survey of public relations professors. The author suggests relational dialectical theory as a way to better understand the relationship between public relations practitioners and journalists, and proposes a relational dialectical approach to theory building and in teaching media relations in today’s changing landscape.

Developing a Blueprint for Social Media Pedagogy: Trials, Tribulations, and Best Practices • ai zhang, Stockton University; Karen Freberg, University of Louisville • Social media research, and particularly social media pedagogy, has increased substantially as a domain in public relations research. Yet, along with this increased focus on social media pedagogy, educators and other higher education professionals are under pressure from industry, professional communities, and university administrations to keeping their classes updated and relevant for their students. To better understand the current state and rising expectations facing educators teaching social media, this study interviewed 31 social media professors to explore the trials and tribulations of their journey and to identify best practices of social media as a pedagogical tool. The study also suggested a blueprint for implementing social media pedagogy in the classroom. Future implications for both research and practice are also discussed.

An Exploratory Study of Transformed Media Relations Dimensions After the Implementation of an Anti-graft Law • Soo-Yeon Kim, Sogang University; JOOHYUN HEO • The Improper Solicitation and Graft Act, which went into effect on September 28, 2016, strictly prohibits gift-giving to journalists, thereby making a traditional media relations practice in Korea illegal. A survey of 342 public relations practitioners revealed that providing monetary gifts, performing formal responsibility, building informal relationships, getting paid media coverage, and taking informal support were found to be significant subdimensions of media relations. After implementation of the anti-graft law, public relations practitioners expressed a belief that the practice of providing monetary gifts will shrink the most and performing formal responsibility would experience the most growth. The formal responsibility factor was significantly positively related to support for the new law and public relations ethics, while taking informal support was negatively linked to public relations ethics. Getting paid media coverage showed the most significant positive relationship with difficulties of effective media relations.

Raymond Simon: PR Educational Pioneer • Patricia Swann, Utica College • Raymond Simon, professor emeritus of public relations at Utica College, whose teaching career spanned nearly four decades, was among PRWeek’s 100 most influential 20th century people in public relations. Simon’s contributions to education include developing one of the first full-fledged public relations undergraduate curriculums; authoring the first public relations-specific classroom textbooks for writing and case studies, in addition to a textbook for the principles course; and developing student potential through national student organizations and mentoring.


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