Ketchum Excellence in PR Research Award

2014 KEPRRA Application Form (Word .doc)
2014 KEPRRA Research Prospectus (Word .docx)


Applications are due by February 28, 2014.
Winner notification is March 25, 2014.


The program is intended to bring a public relations/communications or business school graduate student onto Ketchum’s premises for an important work experience, allowing the grad student to have a major practical experience and learn what “research that matters to the practice” means. The resulting research paper will be published on the Institute website.


Ketchum in cooperation with the Institute for Public Relations.

Award Content

  • $7,500 ten-week public relations research internship with Ketchum in New York City during the summer of 2014.
  • Intern will report to Jocelyn Jackson, Project Manager, Ketchum.
  • The successful candidate will work an average of a 40-hour workweek with Ketchum Global Research & Analytics on a variety of assignments.
  • At the end of this experience, the Fellow will produce a research paper intended for practitioners – not an academic paper, though appropriately rigorous.  The Fellow may consider priority topic areas of IPR (see Research Prospectus download), though other topics will be acceptable providing that the paper is successful through one of the standard vetting processes for publication on the IPR website.
  • Development of a nontraditional component (infographic, video, etc.) to present the aforementioned research to practitioner.
  • The Fellow will receive a $2,500 stipend for the research paper after it has been accepted for publication by IPR.

Who May Apply

Graduate students majoring in public relations, communications, business, or research who have completed at least one year of study towards a Masters or Ph.D. degree and one research methodology course.

Required Application Materials

  • Application Form
  • Statement of Interest explaining why you feel you should be considered for the Ketchum Excellence in PR Research Award.
  • Research Prospectus that outlines the type of research project you contemplate designing and carrying out, should you be awarded the grant.
  • An Endorsement/Sponsorship Statement from the professor who would serve as your faculty advisor in connection with the grant. This should be emailed directly to Jenn Moyer by the professor.
  • A resume of public relations-related work/research experience and/or other pertinent experience.

Address for Submissions: Email to Jenn Moyer

Selection Process

Will be done by a panel of distinguished public relations researchers, educators and practitioners. The top two candidates will be interviewed by Ketchum, preferably in person. Ketchum is seeking someone who exhibits exceptional intellect in the field of PR research and measurement, yet who can also serve as a valued member of the staff in the NY office during the 10-week internship. Complete fluency in written and spoken English is critical for the successful candidate.

Past Winners

[2014] Aaron Westbrook, DePaul University

Institute for Public Relations Distinguished Lecture and Awards DinnerNew York CityKEPRRA winner Aaron Westbrook, a master’s student from DePaul University, will be interning at Ketchum’s New York City office for 10 weeks this summer. There, he will gain practical experience, learning what “research that matters to the practice” truly means. He will receive a $7,500 for his work.

“This experience will be invaluable as I seek to expand my comprehension of measurement as a PR practitioner,” Westbrook said.

[2013] Sarab Kochhar, University of Florida

Sarab KocharSarab Kochhar, a Ph.D. student at the University of Florida, started working this month as the 2013 Ketchum Excellence in Public Relations Research Award winner. Kochhar said her 10-week internship with Ketchum’s Global Research and Analytics office in New York City has already provided her with new insights into her field of research.

“We are very pleased to have Sarab join our research and analytics team for the summer,” states David Rockland, PhD, Partner and Managing Director, Ketchum Global Research and Analytics.  “Sarab’s analytics expertise coupled with her real world understanding of the PR industry is a tremendous asset to our team as we work to provide powerful insights to our clients.”

As the winner of 2013 KEPRRA award, Kochhar will receive a $7,500 stipend and will submit a research paper to be published by IPR. Her research emphasis interests are international public relations, business strategy and business diplomacy. She will also be recognized at IPR’s Annual Distinguished Lecture and Awards Dinner in New York City on November 21.

“Working with Ketchum will be a great experience. I am thankful to IPR and to Ketchum for such a wonderful opportunity. I am glad to be working with the best in the academia at the University of Florida and the best in the industry at Ketchum’s Global Research and Analytics team,” said Kochhar.


[2012] Adam Saffer, University of Oklahoma

2012 – Adam Saffer, University of Oklahoma

PDF: Intermedia Agenda Building of the Blogosphere

This investigation takes a network perspective by recognizing that blogs do not stand alone as information sources—they are connected. Public relations research must also consider that blogs do more than reach publics, they also reach other blogs. Public relations practice can benefit from an understanding of the interaction between blogs. A network perspective examines objects and the relationships that connect them, which forms a network (Monge & Contractor, 2003). In this case, blogs are seen as the objects and the hyperlinks between them are the relationships. Just like with human relationships, the more popular blogs will receive more hyperlinks (relationships) directed at them by others. Receiving more hyperlinks places a blog at a more central point in a network. What is unclear—as the literature review will illustrate—is how a blog’s network position affects how stories transfer to other blogs in the network. Such research is an important departure from the agenda-building scholarship as it explores the understudied area of intermedia agenda building process of blogs (Meraz, 2011). The research presented here provides practitioners with greater insights into selecting and communicating with appropriate blogs based on the blog’s network position. A blog’s network position can be one of the factors for measuring its influence—a concept that has received much attention by practitioner researchers (Mittenberg, 2013).

[2011] Rajul Jain, University of Florida

2011 – Rajul Jain, University of Florida

PDF: Cultivating relationship with tourists

This study examined the construct of perceived authenticity in the context of travel and tourism identifying its linkage with a destination’s image and relationship with visitors. Focus group and interviews were conducted with 11 public relations practitioners of a cultural and eco-archaeological theme park in Mexico to understand their role and responsibilities in developing and promoting the park’s image that fosters perceptions of an authentic tourism experience. Additionally, the study analyzed survey data collected from 545 tourists and in-depth interviews with 16 visitors to evaluate their attitudes and opinions about the park’s image and authenticity. Variations in perceived authenticity with demographics, visit characteristics, and information sources were also examined. Findings revealed that a destination’s image is a significant predictor of its perceived authenticity, which in turn positively influences visitors’ trust, satisfaction, and commitment with the destination. Findings imply the value of public relations, which could lead to supporting behavioral intentions towards a destination.

[2010] Linjuan Rita Men, University of Miami

2010 – Linjuan Rita Men, University of Miami

PDF: Measuring the Impact of Leadership Style and Employee Empowerment on Perceived Organizational Reputation

The current study examines the impact of organizational leadership on public relations effectiveness from an internal perspective. Specifically, it builds links between leadership style, employee empowerment, and employees’ perception of organizational reputation. The results showed that transformational leadership positively influences employees’ perception of organizational reputation, not only directly but also indirectly, through empowering employees. Transactional leadership represented by contingent reward behavior has a significant negative direct effect on employees’ perception of organizational reputation. Transformational leaders are more likely to delegate power to employees and involve them in decision making than transactional leaders. Employees who feel more empowered in terms of competence and control tend to have a more favorable evaluation of organizational reputation. Significant theoretical and practical implications of the findings are discussed.

[2009] Minjeong Kang, Syracuse University

2009 – Minjeong Kang, Syracuse University

PDF: Measuring Social Media Credibility: A Study on a Measure of Blog Credibility

Individuals now have great expectations about interacting with organizations online, especially using digital and social media. Consequently, public relations and communication professionals are looking for new and more effective ways to enhance these interactions with various publics. The author illustrates how credibility of social media is a key factor impacting public engagement and communication effectiveness in digital and social media. A literature review shows that previous research on the credibility of blogs has reported limited reliability, due partly to the use of credibility measures originally developed to assess credibility of traditional news media.

This study has developed and validated a new 14-item measure of blog credibility using focus groups and a survey of blog users. The study also discusses the implications and practical aspects of measuring blog credibility.

[2008] Vidya Sawhny, Michigan State University

2008 – Vidya Sawhny, Michigan State University

PDF: Analyzing Corporate Social Responsibility Measurement Parameters

This research aims to create a universally-acceptable sustainability framework to measure corporate performance, which can adapted by any organization irrespective of size and/or country-of-origin. Select corporate social responsibility measurement indexes of The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) are analyzed in comparison to the frameworks of the Japanese and Australian Environmental Reporting Guidelines, on the basis of the ‘Triple Bottom-line Approach’ of Economic, Environmental and Social Initiatives.

[2007] Brian Smith, University of Maryland

2007 – Brian Smith, University of Maryland

PDF: Representing PR in the Marketing Mix: A Study on PR Variables in Marketing Mix Modeling

In spite of increasing emphasis on coordinating all communication activities (including advertising, sales, promotion, and public relations), few studies have empirically examined this interplay of communication activities and the investigation of integrated marketing communication has received little attention in public relations scholarship. The purpose of this study is to explore companies’ use of integrated marketing communications and the evolving roles of public relations and marketing.

In particular, this study addresses one critical area of this integration, the issue of measurement and evaluation. As public relations and marketing are further coordinated, the question of measurement, especially the issue of public relations’ contribution to organizational objectives (i.e. sales, revenue), will become one of prime importance. This study will examine one emerging area of growth- marketing mix modeling- and PR’s representation in such measurement and evaluation.

[2006] Alexander V. Laskin, University of Florida

2006 – Alexander V. Laskin, University of Florida

PDF: The Value of Investor Relations: A Delphi Panel Investigation

Investor relations officers (IROs) say that one of the biggest challenges of their work is proving to management that investor relations contributes value to the organization. One might consider it obvious that good investor relations is good for an organization; however, quantifying such “goodness” can be a demanding task for an IRO or for an investor relations scholar. This study provides an initial step in evaluating investor relations’ contribution to an organization’s bottom line.

This study first provides a theoretical overview of suggestions in the literature of the contribution of investor relations to the organizational bottom line. Secondly, this theoretical overview serves as a starting point for an empirical investigation organized as a Delphi panel. Investor relations officers from corporations and investor relations agencies were recruited to participate in the panel and share their practical insights in response to the theoretically identified indicators of investor relations value.

In sum, this study first identifies what academic research considers the contribution of investor relations and, secondly, evaluates these academic ideas by experienced investor relations practitioners. The evaluations by individual practitioners are merged into one consensus answer, which becomes a snapshot of today’s view of both academics and IROs on how investor relations contributes to the organizational bottom line.

[2005] Trent Seltzer, University of Florida

2005 – Trent Seltzer, University of Florida

PDF: Measuring the Impact of Public Relations: Using a Coorientational Approach to Analyze the Organization-Public Relationship

Research has stressed that the quality of the relationship between an organization and its publics is an indication of public relations effectiveness. While it seems intuitive that public relations should demonstrate its greatest impact on the organization-public relationship (OPR), early perspectives on the role of public relations within an organization did not always recognize this concept, focusing instead on one-way models of public relations. Probably due to the practitioner-focused research while the discipline was in its infancy, evaluating success in public relations consisted primarily of measuring the short-term, immediate results of a public relations program (“outputs”) or assessing the impact the program had on a target audience (“outcomes”). While it is necessary for public relations professionals to monitor these outputs and outcomes, focusing on these factors will only yield information about the success of an individual public relations program. To gauge the true effectiveness of public relations over time, a long-term perspective needed to be taken, requiring not just a new way of measuring public relations impact, but a complete shift in the focus of public relations research and a new way of thinking about organizations and their publics.

This paper details the development of a new way of measuring public relations effectiveness. It focuses on the impact of public relations programming on the quality of the relationship between an organization and its publics by using established relationship measures within a coorientational framework. Unlike previous approaches, this paper outlines an integrated approach that will attempt to include both parties (the organization and the public) in an evaluation of the organization-public relationship (OPR) by combining the coorientational methodology advocated by Broom and Dozier (1990) with the relational dimension measures proposed by Hon and Grunig (1999). Applying these measures within the coorientational model will indicate the degree of agreement and accurate perception between organizations and their publics when assessing important relationship dimensions. This should generate a complete picture of the OPR. Furthermore, the strength of the OPR over time can then be used to help demonstrate the return on investment in public relations in order to illustrate the value of public relations to managers and clients.

[2004] Marcia Watson

2004 – Marcia Watson

PDF: Can There Be Just One Trust? A Cross-Disciplinary Identification of Trust Definitions and Measurement

The purpose of this paper is to provide an overview of trust research, identifying common foundations and multiple constellations of trust. In doing so, the paper also addresses important implications of theory development and empirical research. First, it provides a historical sketch of different approaches to understanding the phenomenon of trust. Second, it explains why trust should be measured. Third, it deals with the operationalization and measurement of trust in different disciplines. Fourth, it answers the question is one trust definition or measurement appropriate? Finally, it briefly concludes with recommendations for future research.

[2003] Yunna Rhee, University of Maryland

2003 – Yunna Rhee, University of Maryland

PDF: The Employee-Public-Organization Chain in Relationship Management: A Case Study of a Government Organization

This study examines the critical roles that employees play in an organization’s relationship-building with its publics. The findings suggest that employees who have high levels of commitment and use symmetrical cultivation strategies contribute significantly to positive organization-public relationships. The study also found that employment empowerment can occur through participation in public relations programs for external publics.

[2002] Samsup Jo, University of Florida

2002 – Samsup Jo, University of Florida

PDF: Measurement of Organization-Public Relationships: Validation of Measurement Using a Manufacturer-Retailer Relationship

A valid measurement scale for organization-public relationships can offer practitioners and scholars a way to measure the relationship as it develops. This study examines the measurement of organization-public relationship by testing measures on one organization and a key public in an Eastern culture, South Korea.

Trust, control mutuality, satisfaction, commitment, and face and favor were developed by Huang as the core relational dimensions to measure organization-public relationships in Taiwan. Based on Huang’s study, this study proposed personal network as a culture specific dimension in South Korea to measure retailers relationship with Samsung Electronics.

A survey was administered to managers (n=247) of Samsung Electronics and local retailers (n=214) using internal mail and one-on-one interviews in South Korea. Confirmatory factor analysis revealed that trust, satisfaction, commitment, and personal network were better able to capture Samsung Electronics-retailers relationship. Findings indicated that trust, control mutuality, satisfaction, and commitment were closely related to each other whereas personal network is positively associated with other dimensions in the retailer group. In contrast, the managers representing Samsung Electronics’ position perceived more negatively the personal network dimension than did the retailer group.

The results also suggested that there exists a structural model with antecedent dimensions and successor dimensions. The acceptable structural models indicated that trust and personal network may play antecedent roles in the development of satisfaction and commitment. The possible structure of relational dimensions may shed light on the sequential flow of relationship development and suggest implications for relationship management strategy. The present study also revealed that trust, satisfaction, and commitment are global relational measures, whereas personal network as conceptualized here may reflect unique aspects of Eastern culture. Furthermore, these four relational measures can be used to evaluate public relations outcomes.

[2001] Chun-ju Flora Hung, University of Maryland

2001 – Chun-ju Flora Hung, University of Maryland

PDF: Toward a Normative Theory of Relationship Management

This study seeks to understand and describe the strategies that multinational companies use to develop and maintain relationships with their publics in China. It also seeks to extend the findings to develop a normative theory of relationship management for public relations research.

The author studies cultural factors that affect these strategies and explain why companies use them. The proposed normative theory encompasses types of organization-public relationships, maintenance strategies, the effect of multiple publics in an organization-public relationship, relationship outcomes, and the external forces influencing relationship maintenance and outcomes.

[2000] Maria E. Len-Rios, University of Georgia

2000 – Maria E. Len-Rios, University of Georgia

PDF: Playing by the Rules: Relationships with Online Users

How do corporate-sponsored Web sites serve to enhance and maintain the corporation’s relationships with customers or Web site users? How do Web sites build a sense of “community” (or “family”) so that users become involved online on the organization’s behalf?

The purpose of this paper is to propose a new research methodology, based on established theory and tested scale techniques, for evaluating organization-public relationships, and particularly those conducted in an online environment. Corporate or organizational Web sites are defined and their would-be users explored. Next, an outline is presented of research done thus far on organization-public relationship measurement tools. This is followed by an explanation of the rules-based theory used here for relationship measurement. The research method is then provided with illustrations of how it was adapted to two different types of Web sites. Lastly, findings are introduced and discussed.

[1999] Bryan H. Reber, University of Missouri, Columbia

1999 – Bryan H. Reber, University of Missouri, Columbia

PDF: The Lawyer-Public Relations Counselor Dynamic

Public relations practitioners and lawyers each were asked to sort 34 statements roughly onto a most agree/most disagree continuum. By analyzing the subjective responses to these statements, two types of public relations practitioners and two types of lawyers emerged.

One public relations type, the Caring Collaborator, was marked by the desire for collaboration, understanding and forthrightness. The second public relations type, the Legal Eagle, was also collaborative in nature, but was more confident about her ability to assess problems from a legal perspective.

One legal type, the Cooperative Colleague, is also strongly collaborative and believes lawyers should take part in message development during crises. This lawyer believes public relations plays a unique and essential role in crisis management. The second legal type, the Confrontational Counselor, wants public relations to be involved, but is also strongly committed to controlling public statements. This lawyer believes “no comment” is a responsible reply to queries whose answers have not been fully evaluated.

Comparative analyses showed that lawyers were better able to predict the responses of public relations practitioners to the statements than were public relations professionals able to predict lawyers’ responses.

[1998] Yungwook Kim, University of Florida

1998 – Yungwook Kim, University of Florida

PDF: Measuring the Bottom-Line Impact Of Public Relations at the Organization Level

Showing the relationship between public relations expense and public relations goals is becoming a critical task in the public relations industry. The purpose of this study is to hypothesize and test the relationship between public relations expense and the public relations goal.


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