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Editor’s Column: Public Relations Journal, Vol. 8, No. 1


February 20, 2014

Six articles are contained within Vol. 8, No. 1 (Winter 2014) of Public Relations Journal, the scholarly, double-blind peer reviewed, online, open-access, publication of the Public Relations Society of America, the world’s largest professional association in the field of public relations.

The articles are:

This issue’s lead article by Professor Julie O’Neil adds a significant contribution to  research on relationship theory by examining how Fortune 500 companies and nonprofit organizations from the Philanthropy 200 use Facebook to cultivate relationships. The Facebook pages and posts of a random sample one hundred Fortune 500 companies and another one hundred Philanthropy 200 nonprofit organizations were coded for the presence of relationship cultivation strategies. Results found the companies and nonprofit organizations studied most frequently use strategies—openness and disclosure and access—that exemplify one-way communication. Corporations were found to outperform nonprofit organizations in their usage of the assurance strategy, as evidenced by the fact that corporations responded to users’ questions on average 75% of the time, whereas nonprofit organizations responded on average 45% of the time. Dr. O’Neil also reported either type of organization is fully utilizing the interactive relationship cultivation strategies of networking and sharing of tasks. Implications for practice are provided.

The Ward and Sweetser article reports on a study that provides empirical insight into the potential blogs might have in building and strengthening the organization-public relationship. This research project examines how one’s connection to an issue (in this case the social issue touted by the stimulus organization) interacts with dialogic capacity and relationship. Studying dialogic capacity via experiment on actual prospective publics is an extension of the dialogic method, which has traditionally employed content analysis. Using public relations material written for a series of researcher-created organizational blogs, experimental cells were presented as being a corporate blog from a social marketing company; only dialogic capacity was manipulated. Results suggest the presence (or absence) of dialogic features on a blog does affects visitor experience, dialogic capacity of an organizational blog impacts how effectively an organization-public relationship is established and one’s issue involvement is not impacted by exposure to a blog. Findings from this study will have implications for developing a clearer understanding of how online organization communication tools can be better developed into dialogic communication outlets, how the resulting effect on organization-public relationships can be measured and improved upon, and if varying dialogic capacities can effect individual levels of issue involvement.

This article by Professors Zoch and Supa examines previous research done in journalism and public relations to identify eight factors that determine newsworthiness.  A survey was conducted first to confirm the importance of the eight factors among journalists and public relations practitioners. Then a content analysis of news releases from public and private corporations was used to determine if they contained the eight factors identified by the research.  The study found that both journalists and public relations practitioners generally agree on the factors that contribute to the newsworthiness of public relations information subsidies; however, 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 either journalists or public relations practitioners.

Professor Mohammed-Baksh’s article explores the creation and growth of various online groups and communities and how they help eliminate the feeling of isolation among individuals with minority view. The focus of this study was to test the spiral of silence theory in a two-way, electronic, group-communication type of setting. The study also explored how the growth of online communities, and the subsequent ineffectiveness of the spiral of silence theory, can be used by individuals and groups with the minority or different views to start grassroots campaigns and garner support for their various causes. This study also gained insight into the problems of measuring spiral of silence.

Dr. Whitaker-Heck’s article offers an examination of the technical and managerial public relations roles and respective work activity among higher education public relations officers based on a hypothesized role typology model.  This research project reported on in this article used a quantitative survey research design for collecting and analyzing the research data obtained from the Senior Practitioner Survey instrument administered to 74 members of the Counselors to Higher Education section of the Public Relations Society of America.  Descriptive statistics, confirmatory factor analysis using structural equation modeling, Procrustes rotation, and independent sample t test inferential statistics were used to address the five research questions that guided this study. Findings provided evidence, with caution, that senior public relations officers in higher education environments primarily assume a technician role, with marginal engagement of managerial role enactment, despite holding senior-level job titles.  Also, the study reveals that regardless of institution type, a majority of senior public relations officers do not have direct access to the president of their respective higher education institutions.

The article by Dr. Rogers examines the degree to which educators demonstrate, teach, or model excellent leadership in their roles as faculty advisers to the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). A number of unique questions are asked in this research project including: How do PRSSA faculty advisors acquire the leadership skills necessary to accomplish the above responsibilities effectively along with their other responsibilities of teaching, research, and service?  To what extent do faculty advisors believe they are effective leaders and thus effective models of effective leadership behavior for their PRSSA chapter members?  Do faculty advisors believe that PRSSA member participation has an impact on a student’s life after graduation, particularly in regard to leadership in his or her workplace or community?  The purpose of this study is to determine faculty advisor’s perceptions of leadership, leadership experience and training and to determine whether there is any correlation between these perceptions and experiences with the leadership experiences of their chapter members or chapter recognition for outstanding achievement. 

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. This issue (Vol. 8, No. 1 – Winter 2014) represents the final edition of PRJ that will be edited by Dr. Wright who is stepping down due to PRSA imposed term limits. Future communication about the Journal should be sent to Dr. Wakefield at robert_wakefield@byu.edu.

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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