Chapter 1

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).
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
“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?
“[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
Two main types of research
- Theoretical research – Underlying rationale (e.g., Architect/Model
- 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
Questions of Definition
Observation → Define → Make it measurable
Overweight/Obesity prevalence  Overweight/Obesity
 Operationalization: BMI (kg/m2)
Ex> party identification, product loyalty etc.
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,
- Theoretical researcher : Laboratory setting/ Survey
- Applied researcher: Actual campaign setting
Questions of Value
Ask “how well” and “how good” something is.
Can be answered “quantitatively” and
- “How well do you think this advertisement depicted
Generation X?”
Very poorly
- Why do you think so?
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 Fact
Q. of Value
Q. of Policy
Formal vs. Informal Research
: Results of observations we make of the world around us via some
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.
Formal vs. Informal Research
Formal research methods
Informal research methods
Data Collection
Systematic observation
Random observation
Data assessment
Can be measured reliably
Validity can be measured
Is deductively interpreted
Cannot be measured reliably
Validity is assumed
Is inductively interpreted
Prediction (Generalization) p. 7
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?