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Editor’s Corner: Vol. 7 No. 1 Public Relations Journal


March 14, 2013

Six research articles have been selected for inclusion in the Vol. 7, No. 1 edition of Public Relations Journal, the open-access, peer reviewed, electronic research journal published by the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and available at www.prsa.org/prjournal.

The articles are:
An Analysis of the Website Strategies of Top-Fee Generating U.S.-Based Public Relations Agencies,” by John G. Wirtz, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Communication, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and Prisca Ngondo, Assistant Professor, Department of Journalism and Public Relations, Chico State University. Ms. Ngondo is a Ph.D. student at Texas Tech University.
 

Public Relations Paradox on Display: A Comparative Case Study Analysis of the Autonomy-Dependency Paradox at a University Art Museum,” by Christopher Wilson, a Ph.D. Student at the University of Florida; Brad L. Rawlins, Ph.D., Dean, School of Communication, Arkansas State University; and Kevin Stoker, Ph.D., Associate Dean, College of Media & Communication, Texas Tech University.
 

A Benchmark Analysis of the Strategic Use of Social Media for Fortune’s Most Admired U.S. Companies on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube,” by Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Communication, Pennsylvania State University and Tina McCorkindale, Assistant Professor, Department of Communication, Appalachian State University.

Why Women Earn Less Than Men: The Cost of Gender Discrimination in U.S. Public Relations,” by David M. Dozier, Ph.D.; Bey-Ling Sha, Ph.D., APR; and Hongmei Shen, Ph.D., all from the School of Journalism & Media Studies, San Diego State University.
 

The International Divide in Public Relations Education: Advocacy versus Autonomy,” by Shannon A. Bowen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina and Elina Erzikova, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Communication and Fine Arts, Central Michigan University.

An Assessment of PR Educators’ Perceptions of and Approaches to Teaching Entrepreneurship,” by Julie O’Neil, Ph.D., Associate  Professor and Director of Graduate Studies, Schieffer School of Journalism, Texas Christian University; Betsy Hayes, MA, APR, Associate Professor, Department of Mass Communication and Journalism, California State University, Fresno; and Vicki Bagwell, MA, APR, Associate Professor, School of Journalism & Broadcasting, Western Kentucky University.

The Wirtz and Ngondo article reports on a content analysis of a group of 102 websites of major U.S.-based public relations agencies and a critique of how principles of dialogic communication have been applied to these websites. Analysis shows that the agency websites are very strong in the areas of usefulness of information and ease of interface with much wider variation in the areas of conservation of visitors and generation of return visitors. The authors discuss their findings in light of dialogic communication and make suggestions about where researchers might focus their efforts in the future. In particular, they suggest that an agency-client relationship may represent an example where dialogic communication is appropriate but where that communication style is not enacted via the agency’s website. The article also highlights examples in which certain agencies use their websites to create dialog with clients and potential clients.

Wilson, Rawlins and Stoker adopt a comparative case study methodology to address the complex nature of studying paradox. The two cases compared in this study are the Brigham Young University (BYU) Museum of Art’s handling of the international controversy surrounding nude sculptures that were withheld from its Hands of Rodin exhibition in 1997 and its controversy-free Art of the Ancient Mediterranean World: Egypt, Greece, Rome exhibition in 2004 that featured a number of nude sculptures. Data were gathered through 14 semi-structured, in-depth interviews with current and former employees of the BYU Museum of Art. Data were also gathered from news media sources and archival documents from the museum, including meeting minutes, internal memoranda, and exhibition-related materials.

Professors DiStaso and McCorkindale explore the strategic use of social media for 250 of Fortune’s Most Admired U.S. Companies on Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube. This unique study creates a benchmark companies can use to gauge their involvement in the three dominant social media platforms. Results found that 91% of the companies utilized at least one social media platform with YouTube the most commonly adopted followed by Twitter then Facebook. Overall, 30% of companies in this study provided a social media code of conduct in at least one platform, 58% integrated their social media accounts, 14% used a human voice, and 52% used a dialogic loop.

This article by Drs. Dozier, Sha and Shen reports on a recent piece of research that provides a comprehensive theoretical model to account for the persistent pay inequity between men and women in public relations. Studying a random sample of public relations professionals, the authors shed light on the various factors giving rise to gendered pay disparity, including gender, professional experience, career specialization, manager role enactment, and participation in management decision-making. Results indicate pay inequity exists between male and female practitioners because of their gender, after controlling for all the other identified influencers. Also, gender leads to gendered salary differences through professional experience, manager role enactment, participation in decision-making, and career specialization.

Professors Bowen and Erzikova compare the incorporation of ethics into the curriculum and pedagogy of public relations in Western European and U.S. This study suggests a wide divide exists in their views of ethics pedagogy. It appears U.S. professors take the approach of professional ethics, while European professors focus on moral judgment or autonomy and the need to educate communication practitioners to become ethical agents in the philosophical sense. Although U.S. public relations educators are connected to the industry and appear to want the industry thrive, European educators see themselves as autonomous critics of public relations ethics and exhibit an intellectual distance from industry. Results of this study also suggest European educators have an advantage in preparing students to face ethical dilemmas.

The main thrust of the article by Professors O’Neil, Hays and Bagwell is that advances in technology have flattened the public relations playing field as the communications industry focuses on new media and related opportunities.  At the same time, entrepreneurship among practitioners is increasing. What remains unknown is whether and how public relations educators are preparing students for these entrepreneurship opportunities. This study attempts to fill this knowledge gap by assessing public relations educators’ attitudes and opinions toward entrepreneurship education and whether and how they are teaching entrepreneurship to undergraduate students. The researchers used a triangulated approach by implementing a survey and conducting in-depth interviews with public relations educators.

Public Relations Journal is edited by Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, the Harold Burson Professor and Chair in Public Relations at Boston University’s College of Communication, with assistance from Yuehang Wang, a Boston University public relations graduate. The Associate Editor of Public Relations Journal is Robert Wakefield, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Department of Communications, Brigham Young University. The major intention of the Journal is to facilitate the transfer of knowledge from the educational to practitioner communities. Additional information about the publication can be found at www.prsa.org/prjournal or by e-mailing Dr. Wright at don.wright@prsa.org.

Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, the Harold Burson Professor and Chair in Public Relations at Boston University’s College of Communication.
Email: don.wright at prsa.org



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