IPR Launches Free Online Research Center for Social Media Science

The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) today launched a free online research center focused on the science of social media at www.instituteforpr.org/scienceofsocialmedia/.

The website begins with summaries of more than 30 articles or books about social media from public relations research literature. Plans are underway to add information about social media research from practitioners and academic disciplines including journalism, mass communication, business and the social sciences.

“This unique center provides a consolidated source for research-based knowledge about social media and the role it plays in the science beneath the art of public relations,”said IPR President and CEO Frank Ovaitt. “The editors describe each study in terms of what the research found and how practitioners can use it.”

Each article summary includes an extended abstract, comments about the research methodology, key findings and implications for the practice. The site also provides opportunities for public relations practitioners, academics and business leaders to comment on the research, how they will use it and what additional research they would like to see.

One featured article reports on a recent online survey of more than a thousand public relations practitioners about Wikipedia. Sixty per cent of the study’s respondents who were familiar with a Wikipedia article about their organization (or client) said that the article contained factual errors. The study also found it is difficult and frustrating for public relations professionals to correct Wikipedia’s mistakes.

Other articles on the site: examine social media communication between journalists and public relations people; look at how organizations are engaging stakeholders via Twitter; provide a content analysis of Facebook use by Fortune 100 companies; and track the use of social and other emerging media in public relations practice during the past seven years.

The site’s content is managed by an editorial board consisting of Donald K. Wright, Ph.D., editor; Marcia W. Distaso, Ph.D., associate editor; and Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., associate editor. Wright is the Harold Burson professor and chair in public relations at Boston University’s College of Communication. DiStaso is assistant professor of public relations at the College of Communications, Pennsylvania State University. McCorkindale is assistant professor of communication at Appalachian State University.

The steering committee for the research center includes John Bernaden of Rockwell Automation, Devon Eyer of Johnson & Johnson, Carrie Kurlander of the Southern Company, Vickie Spyhalski of Hormel Foods and David Wescott of APCO Worldwide.

The Institute for Public Relations is an independent foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™ and focused on research that is applicable in communications practice. Its research is available free at www.instituteforpr.org and provides the basis for the organization’s professional conferences and events.