Robert I. Wakefield, Ph.D., APR
Author: Alisa Agozzino, Ph.D., APR
Abstract: Few academic studies have examined the world of Pinterest and how it can be used to engage publics. Alisa Agozzino explores this topic in the article, Dialogic Communication Through “Pinning”: An Analysis of Top 10 Most-Followed Organizations’ Pinterest Profiles. Her study incorporates content analyses to investigate how the most followed brands on Pinterest build relationships through dialogue. The study identifies Pinterest as a social media tool that practitioners can indeed use to cultivate relationships among their publics in a visually stimulating way. The study also provides guidelines to public relations professionals who want to utilize Pinterest to foster these relationships.
Author: Yuan Wang
Abstract: The second article about online communication, Incorporating Social Media in Public Relations: A Synthesis of Social Media-Related Public Relations Research, is authored by University of Alabama doctoral student Yuan Wang. With a growing body of articles about social media and public relations, Wang offers a much-needed scan of the issues and directions for such research through a synthesis of topics covered, theoretical applications, research methods, and samples of previous studies. His findings suggest a lack of theoretical frameworks and a dominance of the quantitative method in this growing domain. The study provides insights for future studies as well as a road map for professionals interested in learning more about the research now available.
Keywords: public relations, social media, research trend, synthesis
Authors: Geah Pressgrove, Ph.D., Brooke W. McKeever, Ph.D. and Erik L Collins, Ph.D., J.D.
Abstract: The final article on cyberspace is similar to the first in that it looks at how organizations build online relationships with stakeholders. However, instead of looking at a social media platform, the article, Investigating Stewardship Strategies on Nonprofit Websites, delves into the early days of online communication to explore how non-profit organizations, specifically, use their own websites to reach out to their various publics. Geah Pressgrove, Brooke McKeever, and emeritus professor Erik Collins revive the traditional term, stewardship, and examine it as a vital element of good relationship building and social responsibility. The study defines four stewardship strategies (responsibility, reporting, reciprocity and relationship nurturing) and, using a quantitative content analysis of nonprofit websites, observes how top nonprofits deploy these strategies online. The findings indicate crucial differences based on organization type and the style of web page.
Keywords: stewardship, nonprofits, websites, public relations, content analysis
Authors: Justin E. Pettigrew, Ph.D., Abigail R. Jensen and Bryan H. Reber, Ph.D.
Abstract: Still considering the not-for-profit realm, Justin Pettigrew, Abigail Jensen and Bryan Reber explore this world as it relates to public relations firms and pro bono clients. In The Payoff of Pro Bono: Conversations with Agency Principals, theauthors scope out pro bono client selection and retention in agencies -- an environment that is not often researched by scholars. They determine how pro bono clients help firms increase legitimacy with stakeholders by being seen as socially responsible. The authors conduct in-depth interviews with principals at large public relations firms so that they can understand their philosophies and motivations regarding pro bono work. They specifically seek answers to two main questions: Can public relations firms enhance their status and workplace satisfaction through pro bono work, and should there be industry-wide, standardized guidelines for these practices?
Authors: Jennalane O. Hawes, Brad Rawlins, Ph.D and Kenneth D. Plowman, Ph.D., APR
Abstract: The final two articles examine government public relations, but each also provides insights for all professionals in the field. The first of the articles, Transparency and City Government Communications, advances Brad Rawlins’ transparency model for government communicators. Jennalane Hawes, Rawlins, and Kenneth Plowman develop a quantitative instrument to confirm the dimensions of the model and to predict which of the dimensions best predicts perceived governmental transparency at the city level. The study shows that actually valuing transparency has little effect on whether an organization is perceived as transparent. Organizational support and particularly a communicator’s place at the decision-making table help bring transparency to the organization. Sufficient resources can somewhat help the entity become transparent; however, more important, a lack of such resources creates a major obstacle to transparency.
Author: Christopher Jon McCollough, Ph.D.
Abstract: The second of the articles, and final treatise in this issue, is Christopher Jon McCollough’s State Government Media Relations: Revisiting the “Adversarial” PIO-Journalist Relationship. McCollough notes that this relationship has been seen as “antagonistic” for several decades in both journalism and public relations scholarship. His study determines whether the characteristics laid out in relationship management theory and journalist-practitioner literature apply to current relationships between state government public relations officers (PIOs) and journalists. The study finds that traditional factors (institutional pressures, centralization of government, and ethical conduct) still help shape journalist-practitioner relationships. The study also finds that contemporary factors, such as the current economic pressures on journalistic practice and PIOs’ strategic use of technology, also have an impact on these relationships.