Award-winning paper examines social media, public relations

By Tiara Cosby, Staff Writer

The National Communication Association chooses one scholarly article out of over 100 submissions for the PRIDE Research Award each year. Assistant professor John Wirtz and University alumna Thais Zimbre were selected for their article researching dialogic communication this year. 

“Our project started as a smaller project, which ultimately took three years of development, followed by a year to be published,” Wirtz said.

The Article of the Year award is given out annually at the NCA Annual Convention, by awarding professional development opportunities to communication scholars and advance the broader discipline.

Applicants for this specific award category must meet the requirement of having an outstanding contribution to the Public Relations education through text or life-time achievements.

Wirtz and Zimbre’s scholarly article analyzes the relationship between public relations and dialogic communication through media outlets such as websites, blogs and social media while engaging with a specific audience.

Dialogic communication is a meaningful practice of organized communication that seeks for truthfulness and honesty within the public relations field.

“Dialogic communication is the interaction between companies and stakeholders having the choice of being completely transparent or dishonest with their intentions,” Wirtz said.

Wirtz said the University uses dialogic communication when interacting with students via social websites such as Facebook or Twitter in efforts of alerting students about certain situations.

“As an academic community, we see social media as having the potential to provide opportunities for organizations to engage their audience in dialogue,” Wirtz said. “However, some companies use this platform as a one-way conversation, disregarding the concerns of their audience.”

Wirtz said the only use for social media at its potential is to be used for marketing. To Wirtz, an organization should be truthful and transparent. The worst examples are those that get the most attention while representing the bad tools of PR, being dishonest or emphasizing division in the country.

The upcoming NCA Annual Convention will be held in Baltimore, Maryland, from Nov. 14 to Nov.17.  

“A lot of individual studies emerged about social media, and using the framework of dialogic communication no one had sifted through those studies to find a common theme,” Wirtz said. “This motivated me to fill in the gaps of literature in a systematic way.”

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