PRSA Interview

UnknownEach month PRSA San Diego interviews one of its members to be featured on its website and share about their professional experience. This month, I was lucky enough to be asked to participate and had the opportunity to share more about my experience with the research side of public relations.

Check out my interview here.


I’m moving…to Texas

Some of you may already know, but I have decided to pursue a Ph.D. at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. They have a great mass communications program that I’m confident will prepare me for a career in academia. My ultimate goal is to teach and do research in public relations at a four-year university, and I think I’ve always known I’d be Dr. Lee someday.

I'll be a Red Raider for a few years, but you know I'm an Aztec for life :)

I’ll be a Red Raider for a few years, but you know I’m an Aztec for life 🙂

Choosing a doctoral program was the hardest decision I’ve ever made and my huge spreadsheet of pros and cons wasn’t much help. All of the programs I looked at are great and someone else with the same options I had may have chosen differently. I went with what was best for me in terms of faculty, resources, research and teaching opportunities. However, on top of the practical considerations, the people that I will spend the next three years with really sealed the deal.

Tech had me come visit a few weeks ago and every single person that I have interacted with, student, faculty or staff, was incredibly helpful and welcoming. Plus, their facilities are amazing. I probably won’t use the eye tracking machines or physiology lab, but the high-tech focus group room and office with a view got my attention. However, Blake and I have been joking around about the crazy research projects we can do in the labs when she visits. Any suggestions on that?

College of Media and Communication building

College of Media and Communication building

While the program is a great fit, Lubbock will be harder to get used to. There is more there than I realized and university towns tend to foster creativity and forward thinking, but it still isn’t San Diego. There’s no ocean or city-wide recycling program, the shopping isn’t great, and everyone drives big trucks while talking on cell phones. I’ll be leaving my family, Blake and Whitney, and other friends, but luckily, I have an amazing partner by my side to navigate this adventure with. My boyfriend, Paul, and I, and our cocker spaniel, Tiger, will be moving in August. Trust me, we’ll only be in Texas for three years.

A Recap of IPRRC

Last week, I ventured to Miami for the second year in a row to present research at the International Public Relations Research Conference. IPRRC brings practitioners and academics together in order to share and advance the latest PR research. Unlike other conferences, IPRRC is made up of informal roundtable sessions where the presenters can share their research, then discuss it with a fairly small group of people. This facilitates conversation among practitioners, faculty and grad students and often leads to new ideas and collaborations.

SDSU had a great group of representatives in Miami!

SDSU had a great group of representatives in Miami!

With three very full days of presentations, I was pretty exhausted by the time I got to my own presentation (the very last session!). Luckily, it’s a very positive environment and there didn’t seem to be any judgment as I tripped over my words a few times. In fact, everyone was very kind and encouraging, just like they were last year.

IPRRC really has something for everyone in PR, as you can see in the program. If you are a practitioner, you are sure to find presentations relevant to your practice. If you are an academic, you are sure to find presentations relevant to your research interests. Right now, I’m both, and I found both.

Social media was one of the most popular research topics. From best practices to ethics to creating dialogue to measurement, there was a ton of discussion about social media. My paper was also related to social media, but focused on new PR professionals and why they are often the ones to take on social media tasks. If the topic interests you, go read my thesis! Haha… I know that won’t happen, but if you want a shortened version, I’d be happy to chat about it!

Get to know

We all know about Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, Foursquare, Google+, Myspace, Instagram… you get the point. But, have you heard of It might not interest everyone, but if you do research, you are in grad school, or you have a client that does research, it may be worth getting to know this lesser-known social media site. As you may have guessed, is “a platform for academics to share research papers.”

Screen shot 2013-01-10 at 1.48.26 PMAs a grad student, I have used the site to follow what other researchers are doing and to connect with fellow academics. I’m not very active on it, so I’m sure I’m not getting all the value I can. I can also see how non-academics may simply be interested in following the research in certain areas long before it is published.

Like many platforms, you can follow people and they will be notified that you are a follower, but they don’t necessarily have to follow you back. In addition to posting your own research, you can post blogs, teaching documents, conference presentations and ask questions within a certain research topic.

As always, we want to hear what you have to say. Have you used Do you find it useful?

My Summer Research on CEOs and the Media

Over the summer, I spent six weeks at PRIME Research in Ann Arbor, Mich. thanks to the Grunig PRIME Research Fellowship. Although a wonderful opportunity, splitting up the Blake and Nicole bestie duo was difficult! I was able to get over the short separation and, as part of the fellowship, I did a research project on CEOs and media relations. Below is a snippet of a column I wrote for the Institute for Public Relations about it. Click through to read more, it’s short and written for practitioners, not academics (a.k.a you’re going to understand it and it may be useful!):

Me with my award in my living room since the Nor’easter a few weeks ago cancelled my flight to NYC 😦

CEOs are often the face of a company, but having a visible, or even well liked, CEO may not help a company’s reputation in all situations. This is a topic I explored over the summer with PRIME Research thanks to the Grunig PRIME Fellowship. Specifically, I looked at how the tone and visibility of CEO media coverage is related to the tone and visibility of overall organization coverage.

The first big takeaway is not all publicity is good publicity… {Read more.}

If you want to dive into the numbers and check out the full paper, you can download it here.

PR is Math

We’ve all heard it at least once, “I got into PR because I suck at math”. Sorry, but if you suck at math or don’t like math, you probably aren’t going to get very far in your PR career. There, I said it. Now stop making the rest of us look bad.

You can be a great communicator and have creative ideas, but unless you can show your organization or client the impact of your efforts through research and evaluation, they will have no reason to keep you around. Research means measurement and measurement means math. You have to be able to understand statistics to show your client their ROI.

So, now that we agree that you need to at least tolerate math if you want to be a successful PR practitioner, what about those who love math (yes, we’re out there)? You know, the few of us who get giddy over statistics. Well, one option is academia. There will always be a need for passionate PR professors who give back to the field through research and education. But, that’s not the only option for math lovers.

Somewhere between traditional practitioners (media relations, community relations, etc.) and academia is the world of applied research. This is a world that I will explore this summer in Ann Arbor, Michigan at PRIME Research as part of a research fellowship I was rewarded. PRIME’s services include advanced media analytics and stakeholder surveys to aid in planning and evaluation.

PRIME is not the only agency out there that values research. If you love stats and PR, but aren’t sure about teaching, a career in applied research may be something to explore. I suggest checking out the Institute for Public Relations to learn more about the research side of PR. Are you now drooling over these possibilities? If so, get back to analyzing some data on SPSS!