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Research in Public Relations

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Adriana Joseph

on 20 April 2011

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Transcript of Research in Public Relations

Research in Public Relations By: Cristina Diez and Adriana Joseph Research is used in public relations to provide the initial information necessary to plan public action and to evaluate effectiveness. In public relations, both quantitative and qualitative methods can be used. Quantitative Research
in Public Relations 37% of research conducted in PR, is quantitative. The most popular type is survey. Examples 2000: Moss, Warnaby, and Newman surveyed PR professionals in different areas to determine how practitioners were involved in strategic management.
2008: Edwards surveyed PR professionals to determine their cultural capital.
Qualitative Research
in Public Relations The qualitative technique has seen a growth in PR research because practitioners have shifted focus from one-way communication and control to conversation with others. By focusing on dialogue, it became necessary to understand and identify with whom they were speaking, which could only be done through qualitative methods. 58% of research in public relations is qualitative The most commonly used form of qualitative research is intensive interviewing. Examples In PR, focus groups and interviews are used to get a deeper understanding of people's opinions, beliefs, desires, and attitudes toward specific incidents. 2002: Wrigley conducted a focus group to study how women felt about the "glass ceiling" in the PR industry.
2003: Reber, Cropp, and Cameron did a case study of the PR implications of Norfolk Southern's hostile takeover of Conrail.
2003: Bardhan conducted intensive interviews in her study of the cultural contacts of PR in India. Types of Public Relations
Research Applied Research This is the most widely used method of PR research and attempts to solve a specific problem rather than constructing a theory, after examining different issues. Within applied research there are two branches:
strategic and evaluation research Strategic research is used to develop PR campaigns and programs. In essence, it means "deciding where you want to be in the future...and how to get there."
- Broom & Dozier (1990) The second branch, evaluation research, assess the effectiveness of PR by checking implementation, in-progress monitoring, and outcome evaluation. An example of strategic research would be:
Suppose you are starting a non-profit organization in your community. With the help of a PR team and strategic research, you can put your organization in the best light in order to spread the word in an effective way. By researching who you want your organization to benefit, you and your PR team can determine where and how to achieve ultimate success for your cause. Broom and Dozier compare evaluation research to a field experiment. The PR campaign is similar to an experimental treatment, and the target public is similar to the subjects in the experiment. Throughout the treatment, the PR researchers take before-and-after measures to determine if any significant differences exist that can be attributed to the campaign. One of the benefits to using applied research is that its goal is to provide a solution to a problem and resolve the issue all-together. Advantage Disadvantage rather than forming a theory, the research may be inconclusive to a specific incident. Basic Research Basic research examines the underlying procedures and in constructing theories that explain the overall public relations process. Basic research also helps to define the fundamental questions at the basis and uses of PR. Advantage Basic research analyzes every aspect of the public relations process and can be used for various PR programs Disadvantage Because the research is basic, it does not go in-depth to the extent that applied and introspective researches do and therefore, may leave out important information. For example: in 2000, Woodward offered a theoretical model based on transactional philosophy that could be used in PR operations, and as a result in 2002, Aldoury and Toth presented beginnings of a theory explaining the gender discrepancies in the field. Introspective Research Introspective research examines the entire public relations field. People’s thoughts, attitudes, beliefs, desires, and other emotions are observed. One procedure used in introspective research is the critical incidents technique. This technique involves in-depth interviewing and case studies. Advantage This method examines real-life incidents as seen through the eyes of those directly involved, which gives researchers a deeper theoretical understanding of the public relations process. With this knowledge and understanding, the researchers and PR practitioners can better formulate PR programs. Disadvantage The disadvantage to examining people directly involved in the incidents, is that they may not remember all the details of the event or may skew the information because of distorted perceptions. An easier way to understand where research fits into public relations is by examining the public relations process. Four Step Model
Public Relations Process 1- Defining public relations problems
2- Planning public relations programs
3- Implementing public relations programs through actions and communications.
4- Evaluating the program Hypothetical
Situation You are an executive at the Coca-Cola company, working in the headquarters in Atlanta, GA. You receive the news that there have been several cases in Florida in which contaminated cans were packaged and sold. Consumers are outraged because they have found aluminum peices in their soda. At this point, your first step should be to call in your public relations team. By following the four step model, you see that the first step is to determine the problem. In this case, the problem is contaminated soda cans. Your next step is to plan public relations programs. During this phase, Coca-Cola executives need to decide which program to use and how they plan to move forward. Following the planning comes the third step, implementing PR programs through actions and communications. In this phase, after planning, the Coca-Cola executives decide to take action by temporarily stopping production, removing Coke cans from all supermarket shelves, and recalling the cans sent to Florida. After weeks of research, you and the other Coca-Cola executives come up with a solution and decide to reintroduce the product. The new cans are now made with a different kind of recyclable aluminum and go through an additional screening process before packaging and shipment. Also, as a way of regaining consumer trust, Coca-Cola offers $3.00 off coupons for the 12-pack boxes. The final step in the PR process is evaluating the program. In this last phase, qualitative research methods are used to test the effectiveness of the crisis management. Interviews with Coca-Cola consumers are conducted outside random supermarkets to gauge people's response to the new cans and see how their loyalty to the product has changed due to the incident, if at all. How Research Was Used The first method of research used was applied research. This is seen in the way Coca-Cola addresses the specific problem of the contaminated cans and rapidly comes up with a solution. The second form of research used is strategic research. To recap, strategic research involves developing PR campaigns and programs. This was used when Coca-Cola decided to recall the product, stop production, and ulitmately reintroduce the new and improved cans. Finally, the last form of research used was introspective. By conducting interviews to examine consumers' attitudes, opinions, and overall assessment of the new product, Coca-Cola is able to evaluate their overall PR program. The End
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