By Sarab Kochhar, Ph.D., Director of Research, Institute for Public Relations
The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) celebrates 60 years this year and hosted its annual research symposium in NYC on Nov 30th. Attendees were invited to listen to and discuss the latest public relations and communication research findings with authors, fellow practitioners and educators. Staying true to its mission to promote research that matters, IPR presented a range of research topics from social media influence to building an engaged workforce, and from millennial communication professionals to the future of communication industry and hyperglobalization.
Dean Mundy, Ph.D., Assistant Professor at the University of Oregon, talked about public relations’ mandate to champion diversity. Presenting key academic and industry research findings, Dean discussed why diversity and inclusion is important and how public relations and communications professionals have an important role to play in seeing that there is a sustained focus on diversity. He further explained how public relations and communications professionals could integrate the communications strategies that will produce positive outcomes in making their organizations more diverse.
Bruce Berger, Ph.D., Professor Emeritus, University of Alabama, and Juan Meng, Ph.D., Associate Professor at the University of Georgia also presented initial findings from their upcoming study on Millennial Communication Professionals sponsored by the Plank Center and IPR. Their presentation focused exclusively on Millennial Communication Professionals and those who manage them. Bruce and Juan defined Millennial Communication Professionals, as digital natives who want to lead, are team-oriented, and possess strong values and preferences for transparency, diversity, social responsibility, community engagement and connectivity. Their presentation shared some of the study results and described a 5-phase ecosystem. The detailed results of the study will be released in Spring 2017.
Fred Cook, CEO of Golin and Director of the USC Center for Public Relations and a Professor of Professional Practice in the Annenberg School at the University of Southern California presented the findings of the Global Communications Report. The report provides insight into the evolution of the global communications industry by analyzing emerging trends in talent, structure, compensation and diversity on both the client and agency sides of the business. In his presentation, Fred discussed how agency and corporate executives agree that the ability to attract and retain the right talent one of the greatest challenges and how written communications is still ranked as the most important by client and agency respondents. Fred mentioned how industry leaders still are searching for more strategy, creativity and diversity.
How social media affects decision-making in the Healthcare, Travel, Financial and Retail was the topic of Marcia DiStaso’s research presentation. Marcia is the Director of IPR’s Digital Media Research Center and is an Associate Professor at Pennsylvania State University. The full results of the study will be launched in Spring 2017.
Rita Men, Ph.D., Chief Research Editor of IPR’s Organizational Communication Research Center and Assistant Professor at the University of Florida presented her research findings on how organizational leadership and strategic internal communication can help build an engaged workforce. Her research shows that employee engagement is the best predictor of overall employee performance compared to other factors, such as organizational commitment, job involvement, and perceived organizational support.
The highlight of the symposium was the Pathfinder Award Winner Presentation by Dejan Verčič, Ph.D., Professor and Head of Centre for Marketing and Public Relations at the University of Ljubljana, Slovenia. Dejan, the Pathfinder Award Winner 2016 presented on Hyperglobalization and Hyperdemocratization and its implications for public relations. The Pathfinder Award is given in recognition of an original program of scholarly research that has made a significant contribution to the body of knowledge and practice of public relations. Dejan talked about the journey of internet and how it has been a game changer for the practice of public relations as well. He further explained the terms hyperglobalization and hyperdemocratization and what it means for public relations practice. Dejan discussed the dual nature of public relations and publics as being both general and situational.
Details of the program and presentations from the IPR Annual Research Symposium can be found here.