Introduction &
Problem Statement

Literature Review




References &

Research Team

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There are four categories of participants in this study: 1) PR agencies, typically those with national accounts; 2) national and local non-profit organizations; 3) top-level PR professionals currently serving as senior members of their department; and 4) military PA officials within each service. Each category is equally important as they provide the basis for how PR is conducted in “the field.” Several sampling techniques were used in conjunction with the other to gather the study participants: 1) Network — we used our personal networking abilities to contact senior military public affairs and volunteer agency PR leadership. 2) Volunteer — we solicited volunteers willing to complete our survey and provide candid responses to the questions given through posting the surveys on two electronic mail PA forums. 3) Convenient — Due to time constraints we solicited individuals as respondents who were readily available. 4) Snowball — we used volunteers to pass surveys on to others.


Other than typical office materials used by researchers, there were no special resources used. The research team used resources located at a mid-western university and consulted several members of the university’s communication department for input and feedback at several points during the course of the study.

Qualitative Content Analysis

Content analysis is a technique for systematically describing the form and content of written and spoken material and “allows for the simultaneous application of quantitative and qualitative techniques” (Sommer & Sommer, 1997, p. 171). Content analysis is an appropriate research method of choice comparing trends across cultures. The results of content analysis are more descriptive but do not have much explanatory power. However, the researchers’ interpretations of the content imply something about the nature of the communicators or effects of communicators (Keyton, 2001). Content analysis is used in this study to compare and contrast the latent content of military PA regulations, instructions, policies, directives and doctrine among each of the U.S. military services, as well as to compare them collectively to civilian and corporate PR. In this report, we identify all written content analyzed as “regulations.” In addition to the written content, the verbal responses received from the field surveys were also analyzed and included in our interpretations. The results of this comparison are descriptive rather than explaining a causal affect and give a deeper understanding of the content which can be generalized to the military services for the purpose of application. Figure 4 visually depicts how the data is collected for this study.

Figure 4

Field Interviewing

Interviews are a sensible method for discovering how communicators feel about their practices and can be both formal and informal (Keyton, 2001). “Field interviewing, as a qualitative research method, is a semidirected form of discourse or conversation with the goal of uncovering the participant’s point of view” (Keyton, 2001, p. 294). Interview questions for this study were conceptualized and tailored to particular audiences — military PA practitioners, civilian PR firms and corporate PR representatives. The interviews are conducted using three approaches: 1) electronic mail interviews, 2) telephone interviews and 3) one face-to-face interview. The interview survey contained open-ended questions to initiate dialogue and obtain in-depth descriptions and answers about PA and PR practices from the respondents. An electronic mail interview survey was sent to 40 organizations. The survey was also initially sent to 14 senior military officials; it was then posted on two military PA forums to gather additional responses. Some interviewees had reservations about the nature of the research and would only respond in general terms, others chose not to respond, explaining they did not want or could not give out “corporate secrets.” The research team did receive a total of 36 military and civilian responses. It should be noted that with a longer research period, we would have been able to sample a larger portion of the PR and PA fields, resulting in a more in-depth study.