This infographic was presented as part of a recent research paper at the Association for Education and Journalism's annual convention in Washington D.C. (August 2013)
 
 
Founding Father of modern public relations, Arthur W. Page said, “All business in a democratic country begins with public permission and exists by public approval” (Griswold, 1967, p. 13). Organizations have historically sought to be transparent only to the extent which is minimally expected by the public; however, the rise of social media has necessitated what has been termed “forced transparency” (DiStaso & Messner, 2010) on behalf of organizations. Consumers today are increasingly aware of where their products come from and the social, political, and ethical issues that surround their everyday purchases. More than ever, consumer expectations of corporate social responsibility (CSR) are important considerations that precede their intent to purchase an organization’s product or service. Perhaps, then, consumers’ expectations of transparency as a characteristic of socially responsible organizations have grown beyond ethical practices surrounding human rights in manufacturing and financial donations to consumer causes to include organizational stances on controversial social-political issues. For example, megabrands Starbucks, Amazon, and Microsoft have recently taken public stances in support of gay marriage rights. Whereas, Chick-fil-A has publicly taken the opposite stance regarding gay marriage (Arnold, 2012). Likewise, the reputations of Papa John’s, Applebee’s, and Denny’s have been impacted by executive remarks in opposition to the Affordable Care Act (i.e., Obamacare) (Popken, 2012). And, the National Rifle Association has recently made public a list of more than 100 organizations and celebrities that support gun control, including Levi Strauss & Co., Hallmark Cards, and Ben & Jerry’s among several others (Allen, 2013). These public declarations regarding social-political issues have been largely avoided by organizations for fear of isolating publics who, in turn, may boycott their products or services. However, as an emerging phenomenon, little research has been done to this extent. Thus, this research expanded on previous research by the study’s authors (Dodd, 2010; Dodd & Supa, 2011; Dodd & Supa, 2013) regarding CSR and consumer purchase intention with a focus on the practical (specifically, financial) implications of publicly communicating organizational stances on social-political issues. The authors use the term corporate social advocacy (CSA) to describe this emerging phenomenon, contextualized as an unexplored dimension of CSR.

 
 
Check out this recent Public Relations Review article by Beatty, Feeley and Yours Truly:  http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363811111000968 

"It is possible that journal impact factor statistics – derived from citation counts – are representative of the theoretical and methodological contributions to a discipline or field, but whether journals with the largest impact factors indicate which journals have the greatest influence on conceptual and methodological progress in the discipline remains open to speculation. The unresolved issue would be of less concern if journal impact factors and citation counts did not have potential consequences for scholars but, as Feeley (2008) observed, 'journal impact rankings provide objective data for tenure, promotion, and, possibly, grant review committees on the quality of scholars’ work. Publication in higher impact journals is often equated with quality of scholarship' (p. 506)." 

As currently calculated, journal impact factors do not accurately represent the intellectual influence of journals or the essays published in them. Accordingly, the relatively low impact factor
for Public Relations Review or Communication Monographs is not very informative about the value of the journal. Rather than relying on a single metric which Martin (1996) refers to as the “lazy” approach, evaluating the quality of a particular article or a research program can be better accomplished by actually reading the work in light of the discipline’s standards for excellence, in addition to perhaps reading the work in which the article in question is cited to determine how, if at all, the piece influenced its citer would lead to a more accurate estimate of influence.
 
 
Did you miss my NCA presentation, "A Strategic Framework for Targeting Generation Y via Social Media: A Longitudinal Examination with Public Relations Results and Implications"? 

No worries! I've got you covered. Check out my Prezi, and let me know what you think: http://tinyurl.com/SM-GenY
 
 
In developing the theory for the Excellence study, Grunig, Grunig, & Ehling (1992) concluded that the following attributes were the most salient for organization-public relationships: reciprocity, trust, credibility, mutual legitimacy, openness, mutual satisfaction, and mutual understanding. Early research regarding trust in interpersonal relationships suggested that trust is essential to promoting as well as maintaining relationships (Canary & Cupach, 1988). In public relations-specific research, Vercic & Grunig (2000) cited trust as the attribute that makes organizations’ existence possible. The researchers conclude, “Therefore we can say that companies are possible because they are trustworthy, and if they are not, they become improbable” (p. 19).

Recent research has examined the ways practitioners are using social media (Wright & Hinson, 2009) and how members of Generation Y, America’s largest generation born between the years 1982 and 2001 and the first to be born into a nation with an accessible Internet system, are using social media in general and in comparison to practitioners (Dodd & Campbell, 2010). Most interesting, it appears that the concept of trust is closely intertwined with Generation Y’s demographic characteristics. 

So, does the mere use of social media impact organizational trust? My recent research indicates that it does. For organizations that use social media as opposed to organizations that do not use social media, significant differences in trust were apparent among the Generation Y demographic. What do you think?
 
 
A recent article from the Harvard Business Review discussed emotional intelligence as an important characteristic of effective leaders. In the organizational behavior literature, emotional intelligence has been operationalized as the abilities of “knowing one’s emotions, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing the emotions of others, and handling relationships” (Goleman 1996, p. 43-44). In fact, extensive research has been conducted regarding emotion (or affect) across several streams of academic research, including organizational behavior, management, and psychology, among others. Most often, research regarding emotional intelligence studies the idea that success is not solely dictated by cognitive task abilities, rather emotional abilities are examined as contributing to performance outcomes, e.g. academic performance, negative and positive behaviors, and job outcomes. 

It is surprising, then, with the historically dense and large amounts of literature exploring emotional intelligence that little to no attention has been given to research regarding emotions (or individual/interpersonal variables, for that matter) within the public relations discipline, despite the fact that much of the emotional intelligence research has been linked to job performance in other areas for scholarly research, i.e. the management discipline in particular.

Further, the lack of emotional intelligence research within public relations is particularly surprising when considering the vast amounts of public relations literature exploring excellence/effectiveness (See Grunig, 1992, for example). In fact, public relations is generally defined as “the management of relationships between an organization and its publics” (Grunig & Hunt, 1984): A definition that seems inherently related to the previously noted definition of emotional intelligence, “knowing one’s emotions, managing emotions, motivating oneself, recognizing the emotions of others, and handling relationships” (Goleman 1996, p. 43-44). 

I have engaged in research to this extent over the past year and have found that beyond validity concerns (that is another discussion in and of itself), emotional intelligence can be used to differentiate between public relations practitioners performing the manager and technician roles. Indeed, public relations is a strategic management function, not left to emotional ability, alone; however, it follows that in the management of the often subjective, relationship-centered situations (e.g. with the media, with both internal and external publics, etc.) practitioners encounter, practitioners’ EQ abilities would seem to supersede cognitive task abilities. Therefore, it would follow that public relations practitioners high in EQ would have the highest job performance.

Based on the research surrounding public relations’ roles (manager-technician), support has been shown for public relations professionals functioning in the manager (as opposed to technician) role as more likely to practice two-way, open-systems models of communication, which are considered the most effective method of public relations practice, as opposed to one-way models of communication that involve more technical tasks (Grunig & Grunig, 1992 and Dozier, 1992). Dozier (1992) explains, “Conceptually, the role (manager) and the functions (two-way asymmetric and symmetric models) go hand in hand” (p. 347). In other words, job performance (or at least promotion) in public relations seems to be indicated by the management role or those practicing two-way communication. Likewise, public relations technicians are those who practice more technical tasks, such as writing, photography, graphics, etc. At this level, it can be inferred that less emotional intelligence, and more cognitive task ability is required to navigate technical duties.


What do you think? How important are such individual/interpersonal variables to public relations research? Practice?
 
 
LadyPR began as a blogging initiative and grew into an entire website. The mission of LadyPR is to not only showcase my work as a public relations scholar, but also Lady PR serves as my official blog from which I will discuss public relations-related issues and topics, specifically my own research and opinions. Also, I hope to link to other PR scholars' work who are advancing progress in the discipline.


Please contact me with any comments, questions, and/or topics of interest. I hope that LadyPR will serve to generate dialogue surrounding many salient public relations topics and issues.