My previous post spoke about the Institute for Public Relations (IPR) redoubling its focus on research that matters to the practice. The IPR Board of Trustees, after debating dozens of research topics relevant to the practice of public relations, has identified its five highest priority topics.
- What drives choice and changes behavior? What can we draw from behavioral sciences, sociology, psychology and neuropsychology to apply to public relations practice? What are the emotional and rational drivers of belief, commitment and behavior? How do different stakeholders – and different generations – process differently in this regard?
- Organizational communication. Our new Commission on Organizational Communication is developing an agenda as knowledge aggregator, model innovator and thought leader in the area of employee engagement.
- A broader context for social networking and what it means. While others churn out benchmarking, best practices and metrics around social media – and IPR may have a role in aggregating that knowledge – our main interest is digging deeper into the true mechanisms of relationship-building, trust, influence and the socialization of ideas across the fragmented world of social networking.
- Restoring reputation in an environment of extremely low trust. Beyond the benchmark trust studies that track ups and downs, what can we learn from the deeper social science of trust? What makes one organization seemingly infallible while another seems always at the breaking point? What reliable data exist to identify the levers that most influence reputation today? What is the future of organizational trust in a younger, G-20 world?
- Models to predict the probability of public relationship outcomes. Across countries and cultures, audiences and generations, what are the research-proven models to reliably predict whether and when public relations can affect outcomes?
All of these topics are huge. They lend themselves to deep secondary or summary research as a starting point, conducted by a volunteer or paid researcher steeped in the subject matter and able to communicate effectively with business people. The summary reports themselves should represent important publication/dissemination opportunities while helping to define the needs for additional original research.
This direction should become increasingly obvious in everything IPR does. It is driving a flow of detailed research proposals that IPR and its partners will consider funding (so bring us your ideas). Perhaps you have already noticed changes in the IPR research letter as we focus on our roles as aggregator and interpreter of important research. We are rethinking the structure of our website, the purpose of every award bestowed or funded by IPR, even the roles of the IPR Research Fellows established by the Board to be advisors, sources and reviewers of research initiatives.
I am sharing this with IPR friends and family not only to be as transparent as possible, but because we need your thinking. Talk to me – and thank you!