Influencers As Endorsers and Followers As Consumers

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This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research CenterDr. Xiaofan Wei and colleagues examined influencers’ role in motivating online consumers to engage with brand-focused content which entails consuming, creating, or adding to branded content. The researchers analyzed how influencers align with brands and the relationship between influencers and their followers.A survey of 390 Sina Weibo users was conducted online. Key findings include:— Respondents felt that their relationship and trust in influencers strengthened their sense of belonging to the fan group.— Influencer-follower parasocial interaction didn’t positively impact how users consumed online brand content that had been influencer-endorsed.— The way people identify socially mediates the influencers they follow, how they interact as followers, and how they contribute to brand-related content.Find the original research here. ...

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Public Perceptions of Climate Mitigation Policies

This summary is provided by the IPR ESG & Purpose Research Library. The International Monetary Fund (IMF) examined characteristics and beliefs associated with climate risk perceptions and preferences for climate policies.An online survey was conducted between July 5 – Aug. 11, 2022.Key findings include:1.) The share of people who think that climate change will affect their lives tends to be higher in emerging market economies, many of which are more vulnerable to climate change.2.) Up to 50% of respondents in some countries had neutral or no opinions about the need for policy action.3.) 60% of respondents in Colombia, Mexico, and the Philippines perceive the personal effects of climate change to be imminent.–This is compared to 20% in The Netherlands and Norway.Find the original report here. ...

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How Brand Trust Impacts the Bottom Line

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This summary is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research Center.PwC assessed the role and importance of trust in business.A survey of 500 business executives, 2,508 consumers, and 2,012 employees was conducted Feb.17-23, 2023.Key findings include:— 91% of business executives said their ability to build and maintain trust improves the bottom line.— 46% of employees whose company had a trust-damaging event in the last year said they expected the event.— 79% of consumers said protecting their data is very important to building trust.— 84% of business executives said they think that customers highly trusted the company, yet only 27% of customers said the same. — 79% of business executives said their employees trust the company, but only 65% of employees agreed.Find the original report here. ...

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AI in the Communication Industry

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This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research CenterPRovoke Media explored how professionals in the communication industry feel about the role of AI in their field.A survey of 406 communication professionals across the globe was conducted in March 2023.Key findings include:1.) 61% of respondents said that they were already using AI in the workplace.— 89% of communication professionals said they expected AI to become part of “business as usual” within the next six months.2.) 49% of respondents said that they believed AI will have a positive impact on the quality of work produced across the communication industry in the future.3.) 58% of communication professionals believed industry leaders should move faster to integrate generative AI to capitalize on the opportunity.— 59% of respondents said they need to move faster to manage risks. 4.) 11% of respondents said their company has policies or guidelines in place for using generative AI tools and 35% said they have plans to do so in the future.Find the original report here. ...

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The Top 19 Public Relations Insights of 2022

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THIS IS AN IPR SIGNATURE STUDY Download Full Report: Top 19 Public Relations Insights of 2022 PDFIntroduction: The Institute for Public Relations annually compiles the top research studies that we think public relations professionals should know about from the previous year. With transformations to the workplace, an increased focus on sustainability, the impact of COVID-19, and major breakthroughs in artificial intelligence and other technologies, there were no shortage of issues communicators focused on around the world. These opportunities and challenges are spotlighted in this guide. At the end of this report is a list of IPR resources and IPR signature studies published in 2022. Thanks to our Board of Trustees, comprising senior level executives and academic leaders in public relations, for driving the mission and work we do. FOR MORE INSIGHTS VISIT THE IPR RESEARCH BELOW: About the Institute for Public RelationsFounded in 1956, the Institute for Public Relations is an independent, nonprofit foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™. IPR creates, curates, and promotes research and initiatives that empower professionals with actionable insights and intelligence they can put to immediate use. IPR predicts and analyzes global factors transforming the profession and amplifies and engages the profession globally through thought leadership and programming. All research is available free at www.instituteforpr.org and provides the basis for IPR’s professional conferences and events.Media Contact:Brittany HigginbothamCommunications Associatebrittany@instituteforpr.org352-615-8211 ...

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The Challenges of Newcomer Onboarding in Hybrid Work Contexts

This blog is provided by the IPR Organizational Communication Research CenterThe onboarding process for new employees is a critical phase that is potentially impacted by the new era of hybrid work. The onboarding process involves the socialization of newcomers to organizational culture and becoming familiar with work and colleagues, which helps newcomers transition from being outsiders to engaged and satisfied insiders. While factors that can sustain or inhibit the onboarding process have been studied, the challenge now is understanding how the process unfolds in hybrid work contexts.Hybrid work comes with its own set of challenges that could inhibit the adjustment of newcomers, such as developing knowledge about their work roles and organization, establishing relationships with colleagues, and developing affective commitment to the organization. Remote work, in particular, can undermine the effectiveness of the onboarding process by causing social isolation and stress due to the intensive use of technology. It can also affect perceptions of support that newcomers receive from the organization and their supervisors, which are crucial for a positive onboarding experience.The Center for Employee Relations and Communication (CERC), a research center at Università IULM focusing on employee relations and communication, conducted a study exploring the factors that can impact the effectiveness of newcomer onboarding in hybrid work contexts. A survey was conducted with 109 newcomers who began working in their current organization after January 2021 and worked remotely for at least one day a week. The questionnaire used validated scales to measure newcomer adjustment, affective commitment, workplace social isolation, technostress, perceived organizational support, and perceived supervisor support.The study produced reassuring findings about the effectiveness of onboarding processes in hybrid work contexts but also highlighted areas for improvement. Findings showed that hybrid work did not impede the possibility of effective onboarding and newcomer adjustment. However, there was notable room for improvement regarding new employees’ knowledge of work roles and the organization. A greater concern was a finding that respondents had weak emotional bonds with their organizations.While remote work can impact the onboarding process, it does not entirely prevent effective onboarding. Companies should pay attention to certain factors to facilitate successful onboarding in a hybrid work environment.Key findings from the study include:— Newcomers perceived a lack of face-to-face contact and informal communication with colleagues due to remote working, but did not feel highly socially isolated overall.— The stress level associated with technology was not high for the survey sample, but companies should address the pressure that employees feel to work faster and keep technological skills updated.—- The sample, which consisted mostly of young people up to the age of 25, might have greater familiarity with technology. This familiarity may have mitigated perceptions of social isolation and stress due to tech.— New employees said they received discreet support from both the organization and supervisors. Organizations showed this through tolerance for errors, listening to employee opinions, and attention to well-being.Overall, findings suggest that the hybrid work context has an impact on the onboarding process for newcomers. While face-to-face interaction, informal communication, and newcomer adjustment are jeopardized, newcomers tend to feel at ease as they do not experience excessive social isolation and stress, which can be attributed to the extensive use of technology.Since organizational and managerial support play a crucial role in helping newcomers integrate, companies should prioritize strategies that ensure new employees still feel supported, even in hybrid work contexts. By doing so, organizations can effectively onboard new employees and help them succeed in their roles. Alessandra Mazzei is Director of the Centre for Employee Relations and Communication at Università IULM in Milan, where she is also Coordinator of the Bachelor Program in Corporate Communication and Public Relations. Her main research interests are: employee communication and engagement; organizational voice, silence and dissent; whistleblowing; diversity & inclusion; and internal crisis communication. ...

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Sharp Rise In Marketing & PR Integration in China

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PRovoke Media examined the key challenges facing China’s PR industry.Interviews with 125 marketers and 70 senior PR agency professionals were conducted.Key findings include:1.) In 2022, 46% of planned marketing campaigns had to stop and shift to online platforms, as compared to 29% in 2020.2.) 57% of departments experienced integration in 2022— an almost 20% spike from just two years ago.3.) Almost 30% of firms have merged PR and marketing departments.4.) The report found two key takeaways for PR agencies to stay competitive and deliver relevant value to clients:— Corporate social responsibility demands a greater ability in high-level strategic thinking and planning.— PR agencies can differentiate themselves by highlighting service capabilities, and competitiveness through innovation, as well as resource acquisition.Find the original report here. ...

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Axios Writer Says Companies Should Use Communication as a ‘Strategic Weapon’

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There weren’t many dominant themes during the Institute for Public Relations’ Bridge Conference 2023, which occurred during two temperate days in Washington, D.C., in late March. This was purposeful.Instead, the agenda provided a wide swath of knowledge, from AI and PR crisis to the importance of communication measurement and behavioral science.Yet there was some trend spotting, during Day 2, when IPR President & CEO Dr. Tina McCorkindale held a fireside chat with Eleanor Hawkins, editor of the Axios Communicators newsletter.A former professional communicator, Hawkins’s top trends included PR’s use of AI, the increase in multi-platform tactics and the rise in internal communication, as the nature of work changes post-pandemic. Internal communicators, she said, are emphasizing “employee branding” and experience, creating a visible corporate culture that places a premium on how staff are treated.As a result, Hawkins noted a rise in the number of corporate retreats and all-staff meetings, where employee concerns are heard. In addition, with employers adopting WFH and hybrid regimes, internal communicators are playing a central role in ensuring companies are intentional in the in-person activities. As such, Hawkins is optimistic that internal communication will retain the importance it gained during COVID. “There’s tremendous potential…for companies that use communication as a strategic weapon,” she said.Turning to AI trends, Hawkins acknowledged she uses AI tools when preparing for interviews. “I expect sources I interview do the same,” she said.In addition, Hawkins mentioned an interesting example of Microsoft using AI in its messaging. Since corporate messages sometimes get diluted after multiple iterations, Microsoft tasks AI with spotting key points. If AI is unable to find them, chances are humans won’t either, Microsoft believes.Similarly, during a panel about health communication lessons from the pandemic, Mike Kuczkowski, CEO & Founder of Orangefiery, Dr. Cassandra Hayes, Assistant Professor at Stephen F. Austin State University, and Dr. Victoria McDermott, Assistant Professor at University of Alaska Fairbanks, emphasized the importance of easily understood messages.For instance, “people act on emotion” during a crisis, such as COVID, so facts alone don’t always break through the noise, Dr. Hayes said. On the other hand, facts couched in clearly told stories can raise peoples’ comfort level during crises, she added.Indeed, panelists agreed certain anti-vaccination stories were well crafted, though sometimes “facts didn’t get in the way,” Dr. Hayes said.Yet Dr. Hayes decried crafting healthcare narratives that play on emotion only. Instead, communicators should structure stories around problems and solutions.Another pandemic-related lesson, the panelists agreed, is using visuals for clear communication. Again, the anti-vax community did this well, Dr. McDermott said, noting graphics played on the public’s “uncertainty.”Part of that uncertainty, Kuczkowski added, was the changing nature of scientific knowledge, especially when dealing with a new virus, as COVID was initially. The public discovered science “isn’t static…it evolves,” he said, which resulted in inconsistent messages over time.Likewise, the concept of time was critical in the data analytics presentation of Dr. Julie O’Neil, IPR Measurement Commission Director and Associate Dean for Graduate Studies and Administration at Texas Christian University. Dr. O’Neil argued creating a measurement culture requires having useful platforms, proper procedures and inquisitive people. Yet, she insisted time is critical, too. “You can’t crank out” useful insights from data “quickly…it requires time.”Similarly, inserting behavioral science into your PR strategy means adding time and effort, panelists said during a session about behavioral science. Yet understanding what motivates human behavior gives PR pros an edge and it “makes money,” said Dave Scholz, IPR Behavioral Insights Research Center Director and Chief Strategy Officer at Leger. And it doesn’t necessarily cost money. “There’s a lot of free research” available from academia. “Use it,” he said.Panelist Stacey Smith, senior counsel and partner, Jackson Jackson & Wagner, offered a novel approach to teaching PR students about behavioral science. “Have them take a theater class,” she said. “It will teach them about why a character does something…they’ll learn and it will be fun.”For PR pros wanting to create a behavioral science culture, she urged “focusing on one behavior you’re trying to change,” she said. “Then look at the barriers to change” and research what data says can help effect change.  Seth Arenstein is a freelance writer and former editor of PRNEWS. ...

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Political Advertising Campaigns on Social Media Have Little Impact

This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research Center.Researchers examined how a $9 million voting campaign by a left-leaning organization in 2020 impacted voter turnout.A study with 754 participants was conducted in the 8 months leading up to 2020 US Presidential Election.Key findings include:1. When exposed to the campaign on social media, voting increased among people who had been identified as leaning towards Biden by 0.4 percentage points.— When exposed to the campaign on social media, voting decreased among those leaning toward Trump by 0.3 percentage points.2.) This effect could also apply for other similar campaigns.— The results suggest that mass, sustained digital political persuasion campaigns don’t have major impacts on voting in national elections (even among politically moderate voters) — and so are unlikely to alter the results — while also being very costly to run.Find the original journal article here. ...

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Consumer-Perceived Humanness of Online Organizational Agents

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This summary is provided by the IPR Digital Media Research Center.Researchers examined how how consumers and other audiences respond to both AI and human agents in live chats online with organizations.Two studies were conducted with sample sizes of 172 and 375 respectively where participants identified whether they were chatting with a human or machine from company websites. A second study was A literature review was also conducted.Key findings include:1.) Over a third of participants incorrectly reported the artificial agent with whom they communicated was a human or that a human agent was a machine.2.) When participants perceived the chat agents as machines, they were less likely to trust the chat agent.— When participants perceived the chat agents as humans, they associated it with higher levels of trust in an organization through perceived investment.3.) The findings of this study showed the importance of human-like qualities in online agents for organizations to build trust with consumers.Find the original journal article here. ...

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