Founded in 1956, the Institute for Public Relations is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit foundation dedicated to fostering greater use of research and research-based knowledge in public relations and corporate communication practice.
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We do this through three kinds of research:
- Research in public relations, to guide and evaluate communications programs (in other words, planning research, and measurement)
- Research on public relations, to understand what we do and how we do it (benchmarking and best practices)
- Research for public relations – the social science underpinnings of our work
To be a global leader for the science beneath the art of public relations.
IPR is dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™. We create, curate and promote research and initiatives that empower professionals with actionable insights and intelligence they can put to immediate use.
What We Do: Our Three Strategic Pillars
The Institute has an extraordinary resource to begin to predict what research is most needed: many of the most successful professionals in our field comprise its Board of Trustees. The Trustees are communication executives of major global companies, CEOs and presidents of top-tier PR agencies, leading academic deans and professors, and successful consultants in the field. At the core of IPR’s mission is bridging the scientific rigor of academic leaders with the business-driven practicality of communications professionals. They know what insights they need now to further their practice, elevate their value and train their staff. They know what they don’t know and need to know — fast. They are also committed to diversity and inclusion so that our areas of inquiry are relevant in today’s marketplace. This is the market-driven starting point to set our research agenda. If research isn’t asked for by these thought leaders and if it can’t offer insight that can be applied immediately, we won’t fund it. Current priorities set by our Trustees include: What can restore trust in an environment of extremely low trust? What technologies will have the greatest impact on the practice in the year ahead? What is currently most effective in organizational communication? What are tested models to predict when public relations can affect outcomes? What are the true mechanisms of influence in the fragmented world of social networking? What are the emotional and rational drivers of choice and behavior?
Specific research studies are selected and directed by the Trustees, the executive leadership of IPR and by our Centers of Excellence and Commissions — groups of Trustees and other professionals steeped in their particular area of expertise. Our current groups are the Behavioral Insights Research Center, the Organizational Communication Research Center, the Digital Media Research Center and our longest-standing group, the Measurement Commission. Recently published research, studies, and lectures capture the topical relevance of our research: Disinformation in Society, The Marketing Value of Blockchain Technology, The Future of Corporate Purpose, Fostering Influencer Relations to Manage Fake News, Women in Leadership Communications, and The Role of AI in Building Engagement, to name a few.
Amplify and Engage:
As an organization at the center of the communications and marketing field, we know that the most insightful research available today can’t make a difference if no one knows about it. A unique strength of IPR is its dedication to actively sharing all of its knowledge. We do this by publishing and promoting our own research and also by identifying and aggregating the best research from other sources and sharing it globally in our online Research Library, through our weekly Research Letter, and at events worldwide. We are the leading convener of communications professionals at events where thoughtful practitioners can absorb and contribute to research-based knowledge, including at our Annual Distinguished Lecture, our Strategic Communications and Research Conference, our global Research Symposiums, and the Public Relations Leadership Forum. We also partner with industry organizations, companies, and C-suite organizations to reach business leaders well beyond our field. And we attract professionals and students to our research through search optimization, an engaging monthly series on YouTube called “In a Car with IPR,” featuring thought leaders discussing their most recent research, and through regular free webinars to audiences worldwide on the most relevant topics of the day.
The current priority topics set by the Board (which, of course, can change over time) are:
What drives choice and changes behavior?
What can we draw from behavioral sciences, sociology, psychology, and neuropsychology to apply to public relations practice? What are the emotional and rational drivers of belief, commitment, and behavior? How do different stakeholders – and different generations – process differently in this regard?
Our Commission on Organizational Communication is developing an agenda as knowledge aggregator, model innovator and thought-leader in the area of employee engagement.
A broader context for social networking and what it means.
While others churn out benchmarking, best practices and metrics around social media – and IPR has a role in aggregating that knowledge – our main interest is digging deeper into the true mechanisms of relationship-building, trust, influence and the socialization of ideas across the fragmented world of social networking.
Restoring reputation in an environment of extremely low trust.
Beyond the benchmark trust studies that track ups and downs, what can we learn from the deeper social science of trust? What reliable data exist to identify the levers that most influence reputation today? What is the future of organizational trust in a younger, G-20 world?
Models to predict the probability of public relationship outcomes.
Across countries and cultures, audiences and generations, what are the research-proven models to reliably predict whether and when public relations can affect outcomes?
Historically, IPR has played multiple roles in supporting public relations research. Today, we support research in five ways.
Identifying, publishing and promoting important research from many sources, including our own commissions, Trustees and the research organizations of major agencies and corporate communications departments.
Commissioning new research and using our awards for leverage to encourage research on high-priority topics.
Amplifying our influence and reach through relationships with organizations that we have traditionally considered partners (e.g., public relations associations, trade groups, academic institutions, and funded academic centers); and going forward, with organizations more readily recognized by CEOs and other organizational leaders.
Drawing actionable insights and intelligence from research, employing all communications channels (including our website, research letter, social networking, convened forums, the Annual Distinguished Lecture, speaking, media opportunities and channels yet to be developed) to share knowledge.
Using research as the basis for programs where thoughtful practitioners can absorb and even contribute to research-based knowledge. Including the IPR Bridge Conference, Public Relations Leadership Forum, IPR-PRIME Strategic Communication
The Need for Public Relations
Organizations increasingly appreciate the value of reputation and building relationships through sustained engagement. Global business also demands accountability and deserves data-driven insights and strategies. Public relations must deliver precisely measured results. The need has never been greater.
Unique Role and Value
The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) brings the power of research-based knowledge to public relations and delivers evidence needed to formulate effective strategies and scientifically sound methods to measure results. Over the years, IPR and its Trustees have played a central role in elevating the entire field of public relations.
An Active Research Agenda
As both a sponsor and catalyst, IPR pursues research studies and peer-reviewed white papers that demonstrate the value of public relations and delivers knowledge that helps management to achieve business goals through effective public relations.
Bridging Educators and Professionals
The quality of thinking and research is only possible because at the core of IPR’s mission is bridging the scientific rigor of academic leaders with the business-driven practicality of communications professionals. IPR also develops students -the next generation leaders – by encouraging professional involvement in the classroom.
Mainstreaming Knowledge into Practice
A unique strength of IPR is its dedication to actively sharing all of its knowledge. Relevant research, best practices and through leadership shared globally by IPR through a web-based portal that serves as a repository for knowledge from all sources.
Leaders Set the Agenda
Our Board of Trustees includes many of the most respected leaders in the field of public relations. They guide the IPR research agenda, conference content and other investments in public relations.
The role and value of IPR
The Institute for Public Relations is the premier professional organization that answers the need for evidence and accountability by fueling the science beneath the art of public relations.™
Guided by thought leaders on its Board of Trustees, IPR pursues an active agenda of research studies and identifies best practices that demonstrate and enhance the value of public relations.
IPR plays a critical role in bridging the academy world with the profession to ensure that the best thinking and knowledge are applied for the benefit of today’s demanding business world.
IPR is a proud member of the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communications Management.