Do b2b bloggers believe blogs? PR insights on blogger skepticism

Authors: Gené van Heerden, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, Esmail Salehi-Sangari, Luleå University of Technology, Sweden, Leyland Pitt, Simon Fraser University, Canada, Albert Caruana
University of Malta University of Lugano, Switzerland
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: Research and practice have given a lot of attention to blogs which illustrates that it is increasingly becoming an important PR tool. When blogs comment on the activities, products, services and technologies of organisations it becomes an important communications tool. Blogs can be used as credible professional communication but it can also be subject to the same type of skepticism that traditional mass media encounters. This article presents the responses of 333 international active bloggers in the business-to-business (B2B) environment. The responses to blogging ethics as well as their skepticism towards blogging are discussed. We adapted a skepticism scale initially used to measure skepticism towards advertising to reflect skepticism towards blogging. We then relate skepticism towards blogging with the blogger’s view on ethical issues. We also determine if skepticism varies among bloggers from different regions. The article concludes by identifying managerial implications and avenues for future research.

Telling stories to build reputation

Author: Rob Gill, Swinburne University of Technology
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: The characteristics of corporate storytelling make it an excellent medium for an organisation to connect with employees on a more personal level and can aid in the retention of information valuable to building employee engagement. Staff who are more engaged with, and have a deep trust for, their employer are more likely to feel buoyant about their work and conduct themselves in a constructive manner. This can result in employees becoming reputation champions for the organisation through the way they engage with their external stakeholders.

Getting to the heart of public relations: the concept of strategic intent

Author: Melanie James, University of Newcastle
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: This paper suggests that public relations can be understood as the strategic attempt to get the subjects of public relations activities to construct the intended meaning of the employing or commissioning entity rather than any other meaning. The author puts forward that the intentional construction of meaning for strategic purposes may be at the heart of public relations as everything undertaken by practitioners could be framed within a concept of strategic intent. One way of conceptualising this assertion is to consider two key concepts within the field of public relations – strategy and the construction of meaning. This paper suggests that the development of theory to accommodate such a position should be considered and proposes that a broadly social constructionist approach may offer the best prospect of undertaking this. If this view was widely adopted then the debate as to who holds the power and wherewithal to influence and control the meaning construction process, and the ethics of doing so, could take place.

The role of tertiary education in preparing students for a career in public relations

Author: Gwyneth V.J. Howell and Nicole Bridges, University of Western Sydney 
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: In professional educational programs, such as public relations, students are expected to develop specialised skills to meet the challenges of a demanding workplace Due to the constantly evolving nature of the public relations industry, this paper explores whether today’s graduates perceive they have the necessary skills to be an effective public relations professionals. Further, the paper seeks to identify which elements of the curriculum have evolved to assist these graduates in preparing them for the industry in the 21st century. This study explores the perceptions of graduates from an Australian over the past five years, and highlights the need to incorporate new and emerging technologies into today’s curriculum.

What it means to become a public relations professional: student perceptions of professional identity through real-world learning

Authors: Amisha Mehta and Ingrid Larkin, Queensland University of Technology
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: Public relations educators need new solutions to prepare students to become tomorrow’s practitioner today. Managers and employers in the new creative workforce (McWilliam, 2008) expect graduates to be problem solvers, critical and creative thinkers, reflective, and self reliant (Barrie, 2008; David, 2004). Enabling students to develop these attributes requires a collaborative and creative approach to pedagogy (Jeffrey & Craft, 2001, 2004). A model for the next generation of public relations education was developed to integrate industry partnerships as a way to bridge pedagogy and professional practice. The model suggests (a) that industry partnerships be embedded in learning activities, (b) that assessment items be considered on a continuum and delivered incrementally across a course of study, and (c) that connections between classroom and workplace activities are clearly signposted for students. 

This study reports on the first part of the model by examining how student perceptions of real-world industry partnerships contribute to learning outcomes and preparedness for practice. The paper provides educators with reference points to see how students interpret, and apply, knowledge and skills gained in classrooms to practice settings.

Public relations in an interactive age: the need for new practices, not just new media

Author: Jim Macnamara, University of Technology, Sydney
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal
Abstract: Much focus in industry and scholarly research is being placed on ‘new’ media and how these can be used in public relations practice. However, comparatively little attention is being paid to public relations practices in terms of whether Web 2.0 as a philosophy and way of practising, as well as a loosely described group of communication and media technologies, is being applied. This paper examines one of the major areas of public relations practice, media relations and publicity, and reviews current models and practices within the framework of Web 2.0 described by its leading architects and scholars as a ‘philosophy’ and a set of principles more than technologies. Analysis reported shows that there is a significant misalignment between public relations practices and contemporary theories and models of public communication, and particularly with conceptual shifts inherent in Web 2.0. It concludes by proposing a number of strategies for realigning public relations with changing public communication practices and the emergent mediascape.

Structuring ambiguity: teaching public relations through a ‘real world’ virtual consultancy

Authors: David Wolstencroft, Monash University and Beth Edmondson, Monash University
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: Public Relations education has several major challenges, including integrating ‘theory with practice’, simulating the modern workplace in the classroom, and assisting students in navigating personal and professional ambiguities and transition points. This article presents a narrative and reflection on an attempt to design curriculum that meets these pedagogical challenges. A solution is proposed by the authors in the form of a virtual Public Relations consultancy and learning environment, or interactive educational ‘game’. As will be demonstrated, this virtual learning environment or ‘game’ was inspired by Kolb’s learning cycle, and requires student groups to navigate successive waves of ambiguity, often presented in ways that differ from other university subjects and anticipated life experiences. 

The new frontier: Singaporean and Malaysian public relations practitioners’ perceptions of new media

Author: Kate Fitch, Murdoch University
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: Recent research into social media use identified mid-2006 to early 2007 as the period when Singaporean public relations agencies first recognised the need to embrace new media (Fitch, 2009a). This research draws on interviews conducted with ten senior Singaporean and Malaysian public relations practitioners in mid-2006 and offers an historical review of their attitudes to new media at that time. The results reveal that experienced public relations practitioners were fearful of the changing communication environment, even as some embraced the opportunities created by new media. These findings are significant in terms of understanding the implications of new media and changing communication patterns for public relations.

The challenge of greenwash: how practitioners should communicate discretionary CSR practices

Authors: Bree Devin, Queensland University of Technology and Dr Jennifer Bartlett, Queensland University of Technology
Published: 2009, Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal, Volume 10
Abstract: This qualitative case study considers the ACCC greenwash investigations in order to form an understanding of how practitioners should effectively communicate discretionary CSR practices of an environmental nature. By considering seven greenwash investigations spanning a period from 2006 to 2008, this study proposes that there are four elements which should be used when developing material to communicate a discretionary CSR practice – the vehicle, which is the communication material or display; the claim, which is what the organisation is trying to communicate; the justification, which considers how the organisation justifies the claim; and finally the intent, which refers to the underlying meaning behind the communication. Finally, through analysing how the ACCCC evaluates that an organisation’s communication material can be considered greenwash, it is suggested that greenwash is not simply misleading information. More specifically, greenwash can refer to the inaccurate, unqualified, or overstated justification that affects an
organisation’s ability to create a legitimate environmental claim.

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