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  Refereed Paper Abstracts

Linking diversity and public relations in higher education.


This research examines public relationships and diversity issues at a large, Southeastern public university and a mid-sized, Midwestern public university in the United States of America. The Hon and Grunig (1999) scale was modified to measure the relationship factors. In general, students at both universities described their relationships with their university as founded in trust, commitment, and satisfaction. The students also seemed to believe their university was committed to diversity issues, which may be related to Weicks (1979) concept of Requisite Variety. This research provides a starting point for future work measuring dialogue and public history in relationships. In addition, this research may contribute to finding additional relationship factors in nations other than the United States.

Public relations ethics: A simpler (but not simplistic) approach to the complexities


Professional public relations bodies internationally have established ethics codes in an attempt to regulate members ethical behaviour. This paper critiques the code-based framework on philosophical and practical grounds, suggesting that such frameworks are inadequate because they leave practitioners free to interpret these guides in ways that advance their own and their clients interests. We argue that this latitude does not foster ethical behaviour. We then contrast rule-following, action-based ethics with agent-based ethics, conceived in Aristotelian terms, and suggest that the virtue ethics advanced by Aristotle and his interpreters represents a more challenging but more authentically ethical path for practitioners to consider.

Public relations agencies in the UK travel industry: Does size matter?


The relationship between an agency and its client has a limited timescale. Thus far, research has primarily focused on the relationship between advertising agencies and their clients. Based on a study of the existing literature, most of which is advertising based, this article explores the agency-client relationship for public relations agencies in the United Kingdom travel industry. Our model concentrates on the four phases of client-agency relationships: agency selection; successful relationships; failing relationships; and agency switching. Several factors influence these four phases, but this article focuses specifically on an under-examined factor: whether the size of a clients public relations agency might influence the nature of the relationship between a client and agency. UK travel companies with different sized public relations agencies were interviewed to test the model and assess the impact of agency size. We found evidence to suggest that agencies should be aware of how their size may influence client perception during the selection process. Agencies similarly should be conscious that their size might act as an indication of how clients perceive their ability, and indeed may influence their client-agency relationship on an ongoing basis. Attention to size-related perceptions may help prevent clients switching agencies.

G-rated animated film violence: An issue waiting to be managed


This paper compares secondary data from a major study by the Harvard Center for Risk Analysis assessing violence in G-rated animated movies, with primary survey data from parents and caregivers of preschool-aged children. The comparison identifies a significant mismatch between actual violence levels and parents understanding of violence levels. Further, parents were found to hold a misconception as to the meaning and administration of ratings, and to hold movie studios responsible for the violence watched by their children. This paper argues that entertainment franchises need to recognise parental misconception about ratings as an issue to be managed, and shows how this could be approached using issues management tools and quadrant analysis.

ROI or evidence-based PR: The language of public relations evaluation


As evaluation of public relations programmes moves from output to outcome measurement with greater emphasis on integrated planning, research, and evaluation, the term Return on Investment (ROI) has been increasingly used by practitioners to express campaign results to decision-makers from managerial and financial backgrounds. Yet the United Kingdoms Institute of Public Relations rejects ROI as not only confusing but misleading. This article reviews the language of public relations evaluation from theoretical and best practice viewpoints in order to propose a platform of common terminology that can be implemented in theory and practice.

They dont see things like we do: A simultaneous analysis of the influence of formal organisational, emergent, and individual factors on emergent patterns in perceptions of organisational mission.


Much of the existing research on organisational mission has focused on mission statement content, neglecting how organisational members themselves interpret the mission. This study uses a communicative approach, arguing that employees will actively interpret their organisations mission. This topic is important because systematic patterns in employees perceptions of mission have relevance for organisational processes. This study simultaneously examines the influence of formal organisational, informal/emergent, and demographic factors on patterns of agreement between employees perceptions of their organisations mission. Semantic network analysis was used to examine a Public Works Division. Results showed that employees who had a communication tie in the emergent communication network, were in the same functional work group, and who were spatially proximate were more likely to share perceptions of the organisations mission. Implications for future research and managerial practice are discussed.


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