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COM317.800. Taejin Jung, Ph.D. Week 1 : Research. What is Public Relations?. PR is a management function that establishes and maintains mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics on whom its success or failure depends (Cutlip, Center, & Broom, 2000).

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Com317 800


Taejin Jung, Ph.D.

Week 1 : Research

What is public relations
What is Public Relations?

PR is a management function that establishes and maintains

mutually beneficial relationships between an organization and the publics

on whom its success or failure depends

(Cutlip, Center, & Broom, 2000).

Management process
Management Process

◙ PR is a scientifically managed part of an organization’s problem solving and change


1. Defining the problem (or opportunity) : “Formative Research”

- Situation analysis

- “What’s happening now?”

2. Planning and programming

- Set up strategy

- “What should we do and say, and why?”

3. Taking action and communicating

- Implementation

- “How and when do we do and say it?”

4. Evaluating the program : “Evaluation Research”

- Assessment

- “How did we do?”

Everyday ways of knowing
Everyday Ways of Knowing

  • “You can’t measure that. Let’s just go with our gut”

  • Reasons of so little research in PR

    - Many employers’ and clients’ views that research is not necessary

    - Not understanding how to do and use research

  • Five competencies necessary for performing most jobs [US Dept. of Labor]

    - “Information acquiring and evaluating data”

    - Allocating resources

    - Good interpersonal skills

    - Understanding systems

    - Knowledge of technology

  • Everyday ways of knowing

    - Personal experience : Volvo fallacy

    - Intuition: Believing something is true or false simply because it “makes sense”

    - Authority

    - Appeals to tradition, custom, and faith

What is research
What is Research?

  • “[Public Relations] research is the form of disciplined inquiry that involves systematic gathering of information to describe and understand situations and to check out assumptions about [publics and public relations] consequences”

  • Characteristics of Research

    1. Research is based on curiosity and asking questions.

    2. Research is a systematic process.

    3. Research is potentially replicable.

    4. Research is reflexive and self-critical.

    5. Research is cumulative and self-corrective.

    6. Research is cyclical.

    ►Research Methods are strategies researchers use to solve puzzling mysteries about the world.

Types of research
Types of Research

  • Two main types of research

    - Theoretical research – Underlying rationale (e.g., Architect/Model builder)

    - Applied research – Real world problem (e.g., builder)

  • Three levels of research

    - Laboratory research (Conceptual level) – Purely controlled (Exclude intervening variables)

    - Strategic research (Application level) – Development of PR campaign or program

    - Evaluation research – Provide “benchmarks”

  • Four research questions

    Questions of definition/fact/value/policy

    Type of RQ determines most appropriate research methodology and assessment

Questions of definition
Questions of Definition

  • “Conceptualization”

  • Observation → Define → Make it measurable (operationalization)

  • Overweight/Obesity prevalence  Overweight/Obesity  Operationalization: BMI (kg/m2)

  • Ex> party identification, product loyalty etc.

Questions of fact
Questions of Fact

  • Empirical questions

    - Answer RQs/H’s with empirical manner.

    - Answer questions dealing with quantity.

    - Can be verified or refuted by observation.

    - Commonly used at the “evaluation” stage.

    - Amenable to formal methodology (e.g., survey, experiment…).

  • Application

    - Theoretical researcher : Laboratory setting/ Survey

    - Applied researcher: Actual campaign setting

Questions of value
Questions of Value

  • Ask “how well” and “how good” something is.

  • Can be answered “quantitatively” and “qualitatively”

    - “How well do you think this advertisement depicted Generation X?”

    1 2 3 4 5

    Very poorly Very well

    - Why do you think so?

Questions of policy
Questions of Policy

  • Always categorized as applied research

  • “Should we target “X” because of “Y”?

    (e.g., the truth anti-smoking campaign)

  • Best answered by “theorists” in the academic world and by “executives” in the business world

Q. of Definition

Q. of Policy

Q. of Fact

Q. of Value

Formal vs informal research method
Formal vs. Informal Research Method

  • Data

    : Results of observations we make of the world around us via some methodology

  • Ways of gathering data,

    1. Informal methods (data gathering)

    - Humanistic/ qualitative

    - Case study, interview, focus group, and observation

    2. Formal methods (data gathering)

    - Method of social scientist / quantitative

    - Surveys, polls, and experiments

  • It is wrong to believe that one methodology is better than the other.

  • “Triangulation” – Both formal & informal methods provide better data to understand the problem.

Review questions
Review questions?

  • Differentiate between the kinds of research that theoretical and applied researchers might do.

  • What kinds of formal and informal methods are applied in today’s public relations? Why?