In my PR Applications class, we are discussing basics of public relations research this week. Here are the slides I’ll use:

View more presentations from Barbara Nixon. (tags: public research)

To see some of the notes I used for the presentation, visit SlideShare and download the presentation.

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For Prof. Nixon’s PRCA 4330 Public Relations Research Class:

This assignment gives you an opportunity to learn how to monitor blog and other social media content in a way that provides similar insight offered by more traditional environmental scanning methods.

Many people will discuss your client or organization and its products/services on their own Web sites or on social media sites, outside of realm traditional media. Just as it is important for you to know what the media and your community are saying about your organization and its products/services, it is important to know what is being said in social media sites like blogs, social networks, and message boards. For this assignment, you will

  1. monitor the online conversation that has occurred about an organization or brand of your choosing since November 1, 2009
  2. create a table for your data
  3. write an analysis of the conversation with suggestions for action.

You might find bloggers who are blogging about your client organization or brand, people who are creating Web sites about it, message board members who are discussing it in forums, Twitter users who are twittering about it, social networking users who are commenting about it, or online video producers who are posting YouTube videos about it.

Let me know by November 15 how you choose to complete the project (individual or in pairs) and which organization you are choosing using this Google spreadsheet. NOTE: The first person (or pair) to “claim” a Fortune 500 company “gets” the company. No duplicates, please.

For details on the report, see below.

Social Media Monitoring Report

Many thanks to Kelli Burns, from University of South Florida, for allowing me to slightly modify a project posted at her Social Researcher blog.

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TED :: Peter Donnelly shows how stats fool juries

On October 14, 2009, in Nixon's Classes, by Barbara Nixon

In today’s PRCA 4330 (PR Research) class, the instructor PC didn’t seem to have the correct version of Flash to show this video. It’s a fascinating talk where “Oxford mathematician Peter Donnelly reveals the common mistakes humans make in interpreting statistics — and the devastating impact these errors can have on the outcome of criminal trials.”

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How to Lie with Design Research

On October 14, 2009, in Nixon's Classes, public relations, by Barbara Nixon

“Dan Saffer at the sixth annual IIT Design Research Conference, held September 21-22, 2007 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, in Chicago. ABSTRACT: How to Lie with Design Research: Same Data, Different Findings “There are three types of lies: lies, damn lies, and statistics.” Thus said Mark Twain. Should we add “Research Findings” to the list? Experience shows that, especially with qualitative research like the type designers often do, two researchers can look at the same set of data and draw dramatically different findings from them. How do we deal with this? If the findings are in conflict, who is correct? Is there a way to make our findings more objective, or is the nature of qualitative research such that subjectivity (what some might call lying) is always necessary?”

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PRCA 4330 Research Project Format

On October 3, 2009, in Nixon's Classes, public relations, by Barbara Nixon

The Trap... by clicksense.Students in my PRCA 4330 class asked for more details on the format for their Public Relations Research Projects that they are completing for Georgia Southern University’s Center for Excellence in Teaching.

Cover Page

  • Client name & logo (if available)
  • Research team name (if you have one) and list of all members
  • Date

Table of Contents

Executive Summary

  • Written for client’s senior management team
  • No more than one page


  • Research problem
  • Importance of the problem to the client
  • Purpose statement (use script from Creswell to write this)

Literature Review

  • Should accomplish two purposes
    • make an argument for the need to conduct this specific study (identify a gap, or a need in previous literature)
    • present the previous theories, concepts, etc. that this study uses and builds upon
  • Usually, each paragraph or small section of the literature review covers a body of literature. The best literature reviews are organized thematically; clearly identify and label these themes.
  • Typically, this section will be several pages long and will reference a dozen or more sources


  • Explain the research methods and procedures used for the research study, and your rationale for choosing said method(s)
  • Include your specific research question(s), not survey or interview questions, but the question(s) that your research attempted to answer


  • Present your data, along with your (statistical or interpretive, etc.) analysis.

Limitations & Suggestions

  • What constraints were on your team?
  • What additional research is recommended based on your results?


  • What do your results mean, in the context of the literature you reviewed?
  • Explain how the problem from the introduction is solved, how the research questions are answered, and whether the purpose of the study was accomplished.


  • Summary of the entire project (in a paragraph or two)



  • Number and content varies by project
  • All projects must include
    • High-level project plan (Gantt chart format works well for this)
    • PowerPoint slides used in presentation to client (printed six to a page)
    • Consent agreement
    • Your team contract
      • Provide a signed copy of your team’s contract (the contract you turned in during the week of October 5)
    • Agreement re: final version
      • Each team member will sign a page agreeing that the version you are submitting for a grade is your final version
  • Typically also includes
    • Complete survey, just as the participants saw it
    • Survey results, raw
    • Questions/scripts for focus groups or interviews
    • Verbatim transcripts of focus groups or interviews


Finally, each team member will individually submit in GeorgiaVIEW:

  • Team Member Evaluation Form (this will count as part of your team members’ grades) Coming Soon; not yet available
    • Will include
      • Client service
      • Meets deadlines, keeps promises
      • Quality writing
      • Creativity
      • Quality of presentation capabilities
      • Research capabilities
      • Participates in all activities
      • Takes initiative
      • Is accessible & responsive
  • Personal Reflection on Research Project (this will count as part of your own grade)
    • Roughly 500 words
    • Answer these questions
      • What did you learn from doing this project? (You can discuss what you learned about research in general, PR research, working with clients, working with teammates, what you learned about yourself through this process, what you might do differently next time . . .)
      • What surprised you?
      • What do you want to know more about?
    • This reflection is between you and me; your team members will not see it

NOTE 1: This information will be discussed in depth in class during the week of October 5. I will update this blog post after our discussion to add any necessary clarifications.

NOTE 2: Use APA Style for formatting your paper for citations, margins, headings, etc. The expectation is that you will use the most current version of APA Style (6th edition) unless you clear it with me beforehand. (Using 5th edition is fine, as long as you tell me ahead of time.)

NOTE 3: You will submit a PDF of your final project in GeorgiaVIEW (one per team), plus a professional-looking hard-copy for both your professor and your client. For your own portfolio, you may also want to print & bind your own hard-copy; it’s usually easiest if all the printed copies are created at once. The Eagle Print Shop on campus will have the best local prices for printing.

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On September 13, 2009, in Nixon's Classes, public relations, by Barbara Nixon

What would an ethical public relations researcher do?

In Monday’s PR Research class, we are discussing ethical concerns in public relations research. These slides will accompany our discussion.

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The Curious Case of the Case Study

On August 26, 2009, in Nixon's Classes, public relations, by Barbara Nixon

In today’s PRCA 4330 (PR Research) class, we’re discussing the case study approach. Limited notes appear in the Notes panel in the PowerPoint.

For a great overview of how to read and analyze a case study, see this PDF from Curtin University of Technology.

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In Monday’s PRCA 4330 (PR Research) class, we are discussing using secondary and historical research. Purdue University’s Mihaela Vorvoreanu helps simplify this process in a recent post on her PRConnections blog.With her permission, I adapted her blog post to a PPT. If you download the PPT, you can see the relevant sections of her blog post in the Notes area.

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Does research really matter?

On August 17, 2009, in Nixon's Classes, by Barbara Nixon

This semester, I am teaching PR Research (PRCA 4330 at Georgia Southern University) for the first time. Here’s a short video from Phil Gomes from Edelman Digital on the importance of research in public relations. (NOTE: You must be a member of PROpenMic to view this video clip. Registration is easy and free.)

Find more videos like this on PROpenMic

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