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Editor’s Corner: Public Relations Journal, Vol. 7, No. 3


September 12, 2013

Six research articles have been selected for inclusion in the Vol. 7, No. 3 (Summer 2013) 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/Intelligence/PRJournal/.

The articles are:

Perceptions of Wikipedia by Public Relations Professionals:  A Comparison of 2012 and 2013 Surveys,” by Marcia W. DiStaso, Ph.D., Assistant Professor of Public Relations, College of Communication, Pennsylvania State University.

Toward the Establishment of Ethical Standardization in Public Relations Research, Measurement and Evaluation,” by Shannon A. Bowen, Ph.D., Associate Professor, School of Journalism and Mass Communications, University of South Carolina and Don W. Stacks, Ph.D., Professor, School of Communication, University of Miami.

’It Depends on the Degree:’ Exploring Employers’ Perceptions of Public Relations Master’s Degrees,” by Elizabeth L. Toth, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, Professor and Chair, Department of Communication, University of Maryland and Rowena L. Briones, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Mass Communications, Virginia Commonwealth University.

An Updated Examination of Social and Emerging Media Use in Public Relations Practice: A Longitudinal Analysis Between 2006 and 2013, by Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., APR, Fellow PRSA, Harold Burson Professor and Chair in Public Relations, College of Communication, Boston University and Michelle Drifka Hinson, Adjunct Instructor, Department of Public Relations, College of Journalism & Communications, University of Florida.

Is Ghost Blogging Like Speechwriting? A Survey of Practitioners About the Ethics of Ghost Blogging,” Tiffany Derville Gallicano, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, School of Journalism and Communication, University of Oregon; Kevin Brett, M.A., Principle, Brett Communications, and Toby Hopp, M.A., Doctoral Student, University of Oregon.

Examining Modern Media Relations: An Exploratory Study of the Effect of Twitter on the Public Relations – Journalist Relationship,” by Drew Wilson, M.A., Ball State University and Dustin W. Supa, Ph.D., Assistant Professor, College of Communication, Boston University.

Our lead article in this issue focuses upon an increasingly important issue in public relations research and practice. Wikipedia has arguably become a staple in society.  In fact, of all the information sources available on the Internet, Wikipedia is one of the most widely used. The problem that public relations practitioners face is what Wikipedia co-founder Jimmy Wales calls a “bright line’ rule.” This rule requires public relations professionals to use the “Talk” pages to request changes to the Wikipedia articles for their company or client instead of directly editing the content. To examine the effectiveness of this rule and explore current Wikipedia experiences, this study reports the results of a survey conducted in 2013. Comparisons to a similar 2012 study are also noted.

The major thesis of the article by Drs. Bowen and Stacks suggests studies about ethics in public relations research are severely lacking. They suggest the public relations field is in great need of ethical standards for conducting research, including both agreed-upon guidelines for the treatment of both data and humans as well as the values underlying the meaning of data. In an attempt to answer important questions about public relations research ethics, they collected data on ethics from 14 associations – both professional and academic. Then they compared five  principles of ethics and 18 core values across the statements, examined the philosophical basis for a complete statement and a close example from one organization. Based on the literature and their data, they then offer a normative ethics statement to guide research standards in public relations.

The article by Professors Toth and Briones reports on a qualitative study of public relations employers designed to seek information and clarification about the perceptions those who employ public relations graduates have about university-based master’s degree programs in public relations. Conducted as part of the efforts of the most recent Commission on Public Relations Education, this study reports on the disconnect between what universities provide and what those who hire public relations practitioners want. The timing of this research is appropriate since it comes when an increasing number of master’s degree programs in public relations are being introduced throughout the nation coupled with the void in previous research systematically examining public relations practitioner’s perceptions of the value of a graduate degree in public relations.

The eighth annual survey by Dr. Wright and Ms. Hinson measuring how social and other emerging media are being used in public relations practice found the use of these new media has increase each year since 2006. Main findings in the 2013 study found the time public relations people spend with blogs and other social media during an average workday continues to increase with 35 percent of this year’s respondents spending at least 25 percent of their average workday with these new media while 15 percent devote more than half of their working time to activities involving these new media. Those who practice public relations continue to consider social networks – especially Facebook and LinkedIn – the most important social media in the overall communication and public relations efforts followed by micro-blogging sites such as Twitter, search engine marketing, video sharing sites such as YouTube, blogs, electronic forums and podcasts

Dr. Gallicano, Mr. Brett and Mr. Hopp conducted an online survey of public relations practitioners that found a general consensus in favor of undisclosed organizational ghost blogging, provided that the ideas for the content come from the stated author and the stated author gives content approval. Their article also reports that about half of their practitioner respondents who had organizational blogs indicated that the blogs were not written by their stated authors.This study explores reasons to support undisclosed organizational ghost blogging and reasons to reject it.

Media relations, one of the most common functions of modern public relations, is the focus of the article by Mr. Wilson and Dr. Supa. It reports on a study examining the impact of emerging media technologies on the media relations function, and seeks to understand how public relations practitioners and journalists are using Twitter in both their personal work and in the relationship with each other. This article also seeks to update previous work that has examined the perception of media relations from both the public relations and journalist point of view. Using a survey methodology, this exploratory study seeks to establish a starting point for future study of new technologies in media relations by creating a benchmark for public relations and journalists’ use of Twitter in the media relations relationship.

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. 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/Intelligence/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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