Marketing tool measures PR in good times and bad

A new tool can help organizatons check up on their relationships with public stakeholders, which can help public relations and marketing in times of crisis.

Jan. 3, 2020 | Original article
Matt Shipman-NC State | futurity
3 mins

One illustrated hand checks the pulse of another against a blue background

A new tool allows organizations to better measure and describe the nature of an organization’s relationship with its public stakeholders to inform public relations and marketing.

“Traditionally, these relationships are measured using questionnaires, which provide only a static snapshot of how one party viewed an organization,” says coauthor Yang Cheng, an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University. “But questionnaires don’t account for the organization’s role in shaping the relationship, nor do questionnaires account for the dynamic nature of relationships.

“Our tool, called Contingent Organization-Public Relationships (COPR), accounts for both of those factors, and can help our field better understand both how and why relationships change over time. The COPR, as a toolkit, can be applied to evaluate relationships in not only positive and cooperative environments but also during conflicts or crises.”

The COPR framework assesses relationships based on the stance of the organization on a given subject and the stance of the relevant publics on the same subject, with the understanding that each side will adopt a stance that best serves its interest. The framework measures stances on a continuum that runs from “aggressive” to “accommodating.”

The COPR can use these stances to describe a relationship as belonging in one of six well-defined categories. For example, if both parties have taken an aggressive stance, they have a “competing” relationship. But if a one party is aggressive and the other party is accommodating, they have a “capitulating” relationship.

“We can determine each party’s stance by mining datasets such as public discourse on social media, organizational actions, such as news releases or blog posts, and so on,” Cheng says. “And COPR allows us to see how these relationships evolve in response to changing circumstances, such as during a concerted marketing push or after a crisis.”

To demonstrate COPR’s utility, the researchers conducted an analysis of the Red Cross in China from 2011 to 2014, as the organization grappled with a crisis concerning its credibility with Chinese audiences.

The paper appears in the Journal of Applied Communication Research. Glen Cameron of the University of Missouri is coauthor.

Support came from the Center for the Digital Globe and the School of Journalism at the University of Missouri.

Source: NC State

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