The question that potential detractor’s may ask is why is research so important to public relations (PR)? And if it is so important, then why are so few organizations engaging in it? This paper will attempt to answer the question through introducing the reader to PR as a discipline, briefly introducing the types of research associated with PR, identify and explain public relations practice models and how they are connected to research, and finally, speak briefly to the value of organizations conducting evaluations after PR initiatives.
What is Public Relations (PR)?
Harlow (1976) defines public relations (PR) practice as the distinctive management function which helps establish and maintain mutual lines of communications, understanding, acceptance and cooperation between an organization and its publics (p. 36). According to Yin et al. (2012), in addition to managing problems or issues, the role of public relations (PR) employees is to help management to be informed and responsive to public opinion. Cutlip et al. defines PR as researching, conducting and evaluating, on a continuing basis, programs of action and communication to achieve the informed public understanding necessary to the succes...
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...easily transmitted and understood, and that, if possible, it is being framed within the proper context.
Similar to any other types of academic inquiry, PR research can be qualitative or quantitative. The literature is suggestive of purpose of the research dictating which type is used. While acknowledging the value of both, Broom & Dozier (1990) more specifically identify qualitative research being indicated when public relations practitioners are seeking to “discover rather than test” ideas for a smaller population. Conversely, Stacks (2002) identifies quantitative research for public relations when the organization is seeking to be able to generalize findings to a larger population. Typical public relations research methods are categorized and summarized in Figure 1 (Qualitative) and Figure 2 (Quantitative) along with uses, and advantages and/or disadvantages.
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