Celebrating 60 Years of Research that Matters to the Profession and Looking Ahead to a Bright Future

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The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) is thrilled to celebrate its birthday today! For 60 years, IPR has conducted, fostered, sponsored, and shared research that matters to the profession. On October 26, 1956, the Foundation for Public Relations Research and Education was chartered in New York, and 34 years later, the Foundation became the Institute for Public Relations Research and Education (later dropping “Research and Education”). The charter the “founding fathers” created 60 years ago is not much different than today, except “pamphlets, books, and monographs” evolved somewhat thanks to advances in technology.

IPR’s longevity in the profession would not be possible without the tremendous dedication of our Trustees. As leaders of some of the largest agencies, top companies, and public relations programs at the best universities, IPR Trustees dedicate their time and energy to the work of the Institute. Without them, IPR would not be able to fulfill its mission. IPR Trustees drive the research projects and as prominent leaders in the field, help promote and support what IPR does. They are truly the heart and soul of the organization. We are grateful to the dozens of Trustees who have served IPR over the past 60 years.

Our industry has seen tremendous changes, especially in the last 10 years. This pace won’t slow down anytime soon, and we must be prepared to deal with even more changes. In 2015, countries adopted the UN Sustainable Development Goals to help “end poverty, protect the planet, and ensure prosperity for us all” over the next 15 years. These goals will indeed impact how we conduct business on a global scale, and it is important that public relations professionals support these goals.

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Source: UN Sustainable Development Goals, 2015

IPR is increasing its global footprint by conducting more research and hosting more programs internationally. In 2016, IPR hosted Research Symposiums at Boston University in London, at AIA in Hong Kong, and at Singapore Management University in Singapore. Being a global organization is no longer an option—IPR will continue to grow internationally through research and programming as well as add more international Trustees. Our profession demands it. IPR hopes to equip public relations professionals with research to help them achieve these goals that impact the future of the world.

Never have research and insights been as important as they are today, and with the challenges of tomorrow, there are tremendous opportunities. Even though “and Education” was dropped from the IPR name, it remains a critical part of our mission. Thanks to our committed cadre of researchers, academics, universities, and members of our four Commissions and Centers of Excellence, IPR has funded both research and scholarships for the past 60 years. We will continue our efforts, including supporting ad-hoc research outside of these as well. For example, IPR plans more research projects relating to Millennials in the workplace and we are committed to championing fairness, diversity, and inclusion in the profession through programs and research. Our four Commissions and Centers of Excellence help drive this.

Our oldest Commission founded in 1996, the Measurement Commission, has produced a series of Gold Standard research papers, books, and standards to help increase measurement and evaluation rigor in the field. The third edition of the Dictionary of Measurement and Evaluation has been published in five languages. This year, the Measurement Commission published guidelines for measuring trust in organizations and a white paper on big data.

The IPR Commission on Organizational Communication, the most comprehensive resource of internal communication in the field, recently published a research paper on Organizational Clarity, a follow up to the best-in-class research study on employee communication. Understanding and implementing best practices in employee communication is critical to improving employee retention and satisfaction, especially in a global world.

The Digital Media Research Center recently completed soon-to-be-published research on social media influence. Its next project deals with cybersecurity—one of the most significant risks facing every industry. As digital technologies continue to connect communities, shift power, and serve as vital communication channels in organizations, the need for research in this field will continue to grow as digital systems, mobile access, and customization becomes more prolific. Stakeholders are consuming media differently and our industry needs to be prepared.

Our newest Center, the Behavioral Insights Research Center (BIRC) helps professionals understand the factors that triggers of behavior. IPR has appointed three BIRC Research Fellows to conduct research in this area. In 2017, BIRC will host a Behavioral Insights Research Symposium—the first in the industry. Artificial intelligence and predictive modeling will be important to the decision-making processes of public relations professionals to improve business outcomes thanks to increased technological capabilities.

The future of our industry is bright—the number of organizations in our field supporting each other and partnering with one another continues to grow. IPR is proud to work with industry leaders such as the Global Alliance, AMEC, PRSA, Plank Center, PRSA Foundation, AEJMC, and the Arthur W. Page Society, among others. We know that these organizations make our profession stronger, and we are honored to work with them all. Even though the number of IPR’s staff is small (four team members), we are mighty and look forward to another 60 years of serving the profession.

IPR is committed to its mission to promote research that matters, and that mission has never been as important as it is now. Twenty years ago, IPR launched its website, and since then, we have offered our research for free. We could not have done this without supporters like you who use our research, share our research, and contribute to our research. We need funding to grow and thrive. We need your help to continue to do the work we do for the next 60 years by giving to the Institute, attending our programs, and sharing our research. Thank you for your support, and cheers to another 60 years!

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Tina McCorkindale, Ph.D., President and CEO of the Institute for Public Relations. Follow her on Twitter @tmccorkindale.

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