[csaa-forum] CFP: Segmentation in public relations

Tilley, Elspeth E.Tilley at massey.ac.nz
Thu Aug 26 11:26:13 CST 2010

Call for papers: PRism Journal 2011 Special Issue
Topic: Segmenting Publics  (winning topic, PRism Prize 2011)
Due date: Full papers are due by January 28, 2011
Topic summary:
This special call asks the question, what is the climate of publics-based research in public relations, and what are current challenges and approaches to the strategic segmentation of publics by organisations?
Vasquez and Taylor (2001) asserted, "the public is often understood as a means to an organization's end goal. Publics are, however, an integral part of public relations practice, and as a communicatively constructed social phenomenon, they deserve serious attention" (pp. 139-140). The common definition used to conceptualise a public stems from Dewey's (1927) understanding of the public: a group of individuals that organically emerge when impacted by a problem and who share a common interest in solving that common problem. However, although the public is the core concept of public relations, it is not well-defined or evolved to fit current media, political, and organisational climates.
Furthermore, some prominent theories of publics have been criticised as inflexible in addressing the shifting nature of publics and the social construction of issues in the minds of publics: "When a public is conceptualized as a state of consciousness or as a sum of aggregate variables, the nature, role and influence of communication are overlooked completely, or at a minimum are taken for granted" (Vasquez & Taylor, 2001, p. 150).
To address the criticisms, new work is being done in this area. Kim and Grunig (in press) have initiated a new wave of studies that elaborates on traditional information-seeking variables, such as information forwarding. Vardeman and Tindall (in press) have challenged the basic premise of aggregating identities through additive identity approaches that most practitioners and researchers have used to identify publics, and in their research on health message construction for women of color, they found that multiplicative identities impact how women perceive messages and act on messages. Although the situational theory did apply to the publics, cultural and socioeconomic variables (which heavily impacted how women perceived the messages) were not addressed in the theory. This research echoes Sha's work (2006) that used cultural identity theory to go beyond the typical and stagnant demographic approaches to segmenting publics.
The purpose of this special issue is to re-examine and question the basic set of assumptions about publics and serve as the natural extension of Vasquez and Taylor's (2001) call to explore publics in greater depth and through multiple prisms: "The challenge for public relations scholars and professionals is twofold: to demystify the ambiguity of a public and to link theory with practice for more effective relationships with publics" (p. 154). The purpose of this special issue is to explore recent developments within the current segmentation theories, to highlight other theories that communicators can use to segment and prioritise publics, to highlight how publics are dynamic and socially constructed phenomena that simple aggregative techniques cannot measure, and to demonstrate how these approaches have been used in practice.
See more detail at: http://www.prismjournal.org/segment_cfp.html
Potential Manuscript Topics: This call for papers invites research that explores new facets and approaches to conceptualising and segmenting publics.
Possible topics include (but are not limited to):
* Cultural identity factors in understanding and segmenting publics
* Intersectionality and the use of this theory in understanding publics
* Evaluation and measurement of segmentation
* Impact of culture, ethnicity, and globalization on the segmentation of publics
* Development of methods to segment publics
* Use of social media and Web 2.0 technologies to explore segmentation
* Application of segmentation approaches to reach publics
* The role that internal diversity of practitioners plays in the understanding of diverse publics
* Theories of public-specific communication (e.g., according to identities like race, gender, class, sexual orientation, role identity [e.g., as a parent, as a student, as a community activist], nationality, among other identities, as well as according to situations)
This issue will be prepared during 2011 for publication before the end of that year.
Submission deadline: JANUARY 28, 2011
PRism journal: is a refereed, open-access online journal of public relations and communication research. (See http://www.prismjournal.org/homepage.html )
Queries: If you have questions about this CFP or would like to express interest in being part of this exciting project in 2011, please contact the guest editors Natalie Tindall drnatalietjtindall at gmail.com<mailto:drnatalietjtindall at gmail.com>  and/or Jennifer Vardeman-Winter jvardema at Central.UH.EDU<mailto:jvardema at Central.UH.EDU>
Natalie Tindall and Jennifer Vardeman-Winter (PRism Prize special issue editors).

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