Michael Kent

School of Advertising and Public Relations,
University of Tennessee Knoxville, USA



Michael Kent is a Professor in the School of Advertising and Public Relations in the College of Communication and Information, at the University of Tennessee Knoxville. Kent conducts research on New Technology, Mediated Communication, Dialogue, International Communication, and Web Communication. Kent’s research has appeared in public relations, management, and communication journals including Public Relations Review, Management Communication Quarterly, The Journal of Public Relations Research, Gazette, Communication Studies, Critical Studies in Media Communication, and others. Kent Received his Doctorate from Purdue University, and his Master’s from the University of Oregon.



Title and Abstract:

A Meta Analysis of Persuasion in Social Media: Merging Theory and Practice

Currently, more than a billion websites, tens of millions of blogs, and tens of thousands of social media sites exist, and yet, exploration of the intercultural, dialogic, relational, and persuasive communication possibilities have barely scratched the surface. Although the communication tools of the Internet and social media have become part of the fabric of public relations over the last two decades, scholars have spent more time trying to explain the uses of the various interfaces, than they have exploring how to use social media and websites strategically and persuasively. This essay conducts a meta analysis of social media research in public relations, a meta analysis of social media news and member websites (including major international sites like Weibo, WeChat, Renren, CyWorld, VKontakte, and others), and an overview of the persuasion and communication principles that are possible in social media, as a means of demonstrating the possibilities that exist for organizations and professional communicators when using social media.


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Kiranjit Kaur

Faculty of Communication and Media Studies,
University Teknologi MARA, Malaysia



Kiranjit Kaur is an Accredited Public Relations Fellow with the Institute of Public Relations Malaysia (IPRM) and has more than 30 years of experience in public relations education. Attached as a Professor in Public Relations at the Faculty of Communication & Media Studies in Universiti Teknologi MARA, Kiranjit has published a number of journal articles and book chapters in her research interest areas in public relations management, media ethics, and women and media. Kiranjit also serves on the IPRM council and chairs the IPRM Education Chapter; the council of the industry body Communication and Multimedia Content Forum; the Steering Committee of the Networked Media Research at the Malaysian Communication and Multimedia Commission; and chairs the Media Committee of the National Council of Women’s Organizations, Malaysia. Kiranjit graduated with her PhD in Mass Communication from University of Maryland, USA.



Title and Abstract:

Recent Technological Development Trends and Socio-Economic Challenges Impacting on Public Relations and Strategic Communication

Development is on an upward rise in most Asia-Pacific countries, despite the current economic setback worldwide. Long-term development plans are still on the drawing board for industrialising countries like Malaysia (objective of Vision 2020) with the aim to be uplifted to a higher economic status. Attaining this objective makes it imperative for nations to seek international investments. For the investors to excel in the receiving countries, effective public relations and strategic communication are imperative, especially in the light of today’s explosive digital communication platforms. This paper attempts to highlight how recent technological development trends and socio-economic challenges impact on public relations and strategic communication among the Chinese investment companies in Malaysia, which are part of some of Malaysia’s large development projects.

This paper thus, examines two main questions: First, what parallels exist between public relations practice in China and Malaysia? This includes an exploratory examination based on the five environmental variables defined in the Excellence project (Grunig, et al, 1982). Second, what public relations and strategic communication challenges do Chinese investment companies face in “mega” Malaysian development projects (such as the Penang port development and land reclamation; Iskandar project; and Tun Razak Exchange). This includes a discussion on how socio-political environment and technological development, especially the digital media landscape, impact on the practice. Islamic ethical principles as well as ethical considerations of Sun Tzu and guang xi in communication are also examined, bearing in mind the dominant doctrines of Muslim Malaysia and the Chinese.

Perceptions about the socio-political and cultural nuances on the stakeholder relationship management practices will be sought from public relations and corporate communication practitioners (both Malaysian and Chinese) as well as identified spokespersons for the Chinese investors in managing the communications for selected projects. The different worldviews and experiences of public relations and corporate communication will provide insights into the ways in which practitioners view their work and the challenges they face in their professional practice within the contexts of the local Malaysian culture and the national Chinese culture, especially in the digital era. The analysis will explore relationship between public relations theory and actual practice.



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Yi-Ru Regina Chen

Assistant Professor,
Department of Communication Studies,
Hong Kong Baptist University, Hong Kong



Yi-Ru Regina Chen is Assistant Professor of public relations in the School of Communication at Hong Kong Baptist University. Her research areas include strategic communication and social media engagement, government affairs, health informatics, and corporate social responsibility in Greater China. She has published in the Journal of Medical Internet Research, Journalism and Mass Communication Quarterly, Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Review, Communication Research Report, Journal of Communication Management, Information, Communication & Society and Business Yearbook. In additional to serving on journal editorial boards, she is also 2015/2016 Page Legacy Scholar of the Arthur W. Page Society (USA).



Title and Abstract:

Factors Influencing Donor Engagement in Mobile SNS: A Study of WeChat in China

Launched in 2011, WeChat is a mobile microblogging and social networking site (SNS) in China. It has attracted more than 600 million individual users and 8.5 million organization users (mostly corporate; Smith, 2015) due to its unique, convenient, and diverse functionalities making its platform an integral part of a user’s life. WeChat combines the features of instant text/voice messaging, photo and video sharing, one-to-many messaging (group chat), information exchange and socialization, and e-payment (WeChat peer-to-peer Wallet), and is a dominant social media platform in China.

Most previous research on social networking sites in China, however, has focused on Weibo and RenRen and on the comparison between Weibo and Twitter. Yet, unlike Weibo or Twitter, which are open-source, WeChat is a closed-source SNS that can be used to facilitate one-to-one communication between a corporate public account and its subscriber via personalized content. Moreover, research on WeChat communication has mainly focused on corporation publicity or marketing. With its convenient and interactive multi-media features, WeChat’s social media platform creates values that facilitate relationships between non-profit-organizations and their donors in China by cultivating awareness and information, trust, transparency and convenience.

The purposes of this study are two-fold: (1) to conceptualize how WeChat can bring the above-mentioned four values to NPO-donor relationships via its features, and (2) to explore predictors for WeChat donations by employing technology acceptance model (TAM) and commitment-trust theory. Random online-surveyed data of 150 Millenniums (those born in the period 1980 to 2000) in mainland China will be analyzed to examine WeChat donation predictors. Research results will provide insights into NPO strategic communication on WeChat for effective donor engagement in China. Theoretical and practical implications will be discussed.



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Ni Chen

Associate Professor,
Department of Communication,
University of Macau, Macau



Ni Chen is an Associate Professor of Communication at University of Macau. She is the author and co-author of referee journal articles, book chapters, and conference papers. The co-editor of a book, International Public Relations: A Comparative Analysis (Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, 1996). She is a member of Public Relations Society of America, and advised Public Relations Student Society of American chapters at two universities in US. She is also an invited member of the Editorial Board for American Review of China Studies.


Title and Abstract:

High-Minded Utilitarian Public Relations Students Dance to Two Drummers

Many critics view deontology (focusing largely on the merits of an action itself) and utilitarianism (evaluation of an action based on its projected consequences) as rival approaches to ethical decision-making. This survey of public relations students at three universities in the United States and one each in Hong Kong and mainland China suggest that, as various theorists propose, many people adhere to both schools of thought, with utilitarianism being the dominant view overall. Furthermore, belief in both schools appears to correlate with high-minded ethical thinking as measured by assessments of several hypothetical ethical decisions. Implications for teaching are suggested.


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Xianhong Chen

Professor and Associate Dean,
School of Journalism and Information Communication,
Huazhong University of Science and Technology, China



Xianhong Chen is the Professor and Vice Dean of the School of Journalism and Information Communication, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan. The President of Public Relations Society of China (PRSC ), Research area is in Public Relations and strategic communication, New Media and Public Relations, nationa Image. Email: 402928044@qq.com. Published English Papers include an below:

  1. How Public Relations functions as news sources in China Public Relations Review 38 (2012)
  2. The image of the United States in the Chinese media: Public Relations Review 38 (2012)
  3. New Media as the Relations,Journal of Chinese Comunication,2009
  4. Public Relations as Relationship Ecology Management: A new perspective and Its Innovation to Public Relations theory. Presentation at the international Forum on Intellectual Property rights, Communication and the Public Domain in the Asia-Pacific Region,14-17 December 2004.in University of Queensland ,Brisbane, Australia.
  5. Brand-Building in the Chinese Social and Cultural Contexts: Characteristics, Trends, and Problems. Freiberger Beitraege zur interkulturellen und Wirtschaftskommunikation: A Forum for General and Intercultural Business Communication (Volume 4)
  6. “Advertising Wounds, Public Relations Cure: Corporate Social Responsibility perspective in China.” International Journal of Business and Social Science1(2): 137-151.
  7. “Relational Corporate Social Responsibility: Pubic Relations Implications in Culturally Confucius China.” International Journal of Business and social science1(3): 118-124.
  8. How PR Affect News: A Study on News Sources of Newspapers in Mainland China 2001-2010, the keynote speaker on the international forum of PR and Advertising in USA,2011,8



Title and Abstract:

The Strategic Shift of Public Relations Discipline: Opportunities and Challenges Faced by China in the Big Data Era

In the 21st century, strategic communication is becoming a heated topic in public relations education. “Strategic communication” was originally used as a “niche”, mainly adopted in government and military communication (Farwell, 2012, Paul, 2011). The term has gradually evolved to umbrella a wider scope of target-oriented communication activities, ranging from public relations, marketing, financial communication, health communication, public diplomacy and movement etc. In the United States, an increasing trend was seen with the universities incorporating public relations and advertising elements into strategic communication course. In Europe, strategic communication is often regarded as a symbolic management method, applicable to different aspects of the integrated communication field. In Asia-pacific region, strategic communication is also used in professional, educational, and other academic field (Mahoney, 2013).

Against this background, the present study asks: in the big data era, does there exist a similar “strategic turn” in the education, research, and practice in Chinese public relations academia and industry? How does the current landscape appear? What are the opportunities and challenges faced by Chinese public relations scholars and practitioners? Method-wise, this study adopted qualitative in-depth interviews with 10 senior public relations practitioners and 10 renowned public relations scholar in the Greater China region. Results found that: 1) There exists an interested “Besieged city”(“圍城現象”) phenomenon manifesting the tension between “de-institutionalizing public relations”(“去公关化”) and “institutionalizing public relations” ”(“公关化”). While some Chinese public relations consultancies have attempted to realize de-institutionalizing public relations by quantifying their work, a few advertising agencies has taken the approach to achieve “institutionalizing public relations” by making a “strategic consultation shift”. 2) In public relations and strategic communication research field, “Positive public relations”(“ 阳光公关” ) and “schematic public relations (“阴谋公关”) have become population agenda. Topics relevant to strategic communication such as “national image”, “public diplomacy”, “cultural soft power”, and “crisis communication” have become important research agenda in the Chinese communication scholarship. While journalism scholars remain in the mainstream, the authority of public relations scholars are challenged. 3) The debate in Chinese communication education about “down-playing news” (“唱衰新闻”) and “up-playing public relations” (“唱红公关”) is facilitated with the decline of traditional news media and media integration. Such contributes to the academic community of a “academic common carrier” (“学科共同体”) and give rise to more strategic development opportunities for public relations education in the Mainland China.

To conclude, under the background of media integration in big data era, the Chinese public relations should promote the importance of strategic communication. With the ultimate aim to defend the narrative power and authority of public relations discipline, one should emphasize the equal status to protect itself from “integrate or be integrated” and “eliminate or be eliminated” in the tug war.



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Craig E. Carroll

Visiting Scholar,
Leonard N. Stern School of Business,
New York University, USA



Craig E. Carroll (Ph.D., University of Texas at Austin) is a visiting scholar at New York University, and on the adjunct faculty at IE University in Madrid, Spain and Singapore Management University in Singapore. He is the editor of three books, Corporate Reputation and the News Media (Routledge, 2010), the Handbook of Communication and Corporate Reputation (Wiley-Blackwell, 2013), and the SAGE Encyclopedia of Corporate Reputation (Sage, in press). He is past chair of the Public Relations division of the International Communication Association.


Title and Abstract:

Transparency Signaling and Disclosure Alignment in the CSR Reporting of Chinese Companies: A Cross-Cultural Extension

This paper focuses on transparency signaling within the corporate social responsibility (CSR) reporting of Chinese companies listed within the Global Forbes 500, including companies from Hong Kong and Taiwan.

Transparency signaling is a concept that attempts to provide a third-perspective on the observation of transparency in organizational contexts. The first perspective is that of the organizational claim. For organizations to simply claim they are transparent often rings of inauthenticity, creating further cynicism and skepticism among the very stakeholder with whom organizations are attempting to build trust, identification, and support. The second perspective concerns stakeholder perceptions of corporate transparency (e.g., Rawlins, 2009) which is the most frequently studied in public relations and corporate communication. Our dissatisfaction with the second view comes from the concern that a focus on perceptions leaves open the possibility that transparency is nothing more than impression management or the garnering of public opinion. For us, transparency is to important of a concept to be left with only a subjective measure. We advocate a third view—an intersubjective one based on (social) facts that can be independently verified. Our task in the development of this third view then is to construct a measure of transparency that combines real-world indicators that meet stakeholders’ expectations of transparency, matches organizations’ claims of transparency, but also matches the conceptually agreed upon standards set by independent experts, scholars, who study transparency. To put simply, for us “true” transparency requires some form of forensic verification, authentication, and validation—the combination of an objective, real world measure with our third-view, an intersubjective measure. We are not able to accomplish all of this in our paper today. But what we can do is make progress on the third viewpoint: developing a textual representation that an organization is attempting to signal transparency.

In a world of a growing number of organizations reaching into the thousands who are attempting to comply with societal expectations, not all organizations’ communicative efforts can be verified (today) forensically. Our goal, then, is to produce a series of “big data” measures that can serve as “tripping wires” for the independent verification of companies’ transparency efforts. This leads us back to our concept of transparency signaling.

Transparency signaling concerns organizational efforts to demonstrate transparency. Transparency signaling includes positive signals that suggest a move toward transparency. That is, the more organizations engage in a particular behavior, the more transparent they are seen to be. Examples of positive transparency signals include balance (discussing the good and the bad), taking ownership of one’s messages, guidance and direction (specifying who, what, when, where), accuracy, concreteness and timeliness. However, signaling also includes negative signals that need to be mitigated, moderated, or eliminated for transparency to be present. Examples of such negative transparency signals include ambivalence, too much praise, embellishment, or lack of focus.

Corporate transparency is a necessary condition for CSR (Dubbink, Graafland, & Liedekerke, 2008). It ensures that a company’s stakeholders are able to evaluate their CSR information in needs in the context of companies and thereby engage in more constructive interactions with them (Parum, 2005). As such, transparent communication is a communication strategy used by organizations for increasing knowledge and understanding of who they are and what they do, with the objective of gaining their publics’ support. But disclosure alone does not produce transparency. As Rawlins (2009) reminds us, more disclosure can actually defeat the goals of transparency.

This leads to our concept of disclosure alignment, which draws attention to how organizations customize and adapt their language to the reporting requirements specified in reporting guidelines. Where our measures of transparency signaling are guided by theory and previous published literature on transparency, our concept of disclosure alignment requires a new measure be created for each individual set of reporting guidelines. Our focus is on the reporting guidelines of the Global Reporting Initiative.

Our baseline measures and pilot study were published in Carroll and Einwiller (2014) using 36 U.S. companies included in the Global Forbes 2000 from 2011, and is need of cross-cultural extension. Our focus is on cross-cultural difference and raises questions about the degree to which Asian companies may be culturally disadvantaged to comply with the CSR reporting guidelines of such groups as the Global Reporting Initiative.



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