This is David Geddes, chair of the Institute for Public Relations Commission on Measurement and Evaluation. I am also vice president of research and development at evolve24 in Saint Louis, Missouri.
Today I am talking with Professor Don Stacks, Professor of Public Relations and Associate Dean for Research in the School of Communication at the University of Miami. Don also a member of the IPR Commission on Measurement and Evaluation, and an IPR Trustee.
Don, the International Public Relations Research Conference takes place March 9-13 in Miami. Tell us the history and objectives of this conference.
IPRRC began 15 years ago when a group of senior professionals and academics got together and decided it was time for a conference that focused on public relations research and practice. Its first three meetings were at the University of Maryland, and since then IPRRC has met in Miami. When the conference moved to Miami we decided to focus the discussion on public relations research, pedagogy, and theory, and a new conference format was adopted.
The format of this conference is distinctive … I describe it as speed dating meets academia. How does it work?
We are interested in good ideas and how authors go through the research process. First, we accept papers based on abstracts, and when papers are presented in Miami, we sometimes find either no results or different results — something you don’t see at most conferences where hypothesized or significant findings are the prerequisite to being included. Second, IPRRC is focused on discussing, not lecturing; therefore, each presentation is presented in round table format. Participants choose where to sit and when to leave a round table (or, not leave and hear the presentation again). The idea is to get people talking to each other. Thus far it has worked quite well. There are six presentations going on at the same time — but each presentation is limited to 15 minutes. This means that participants must choose which presentations to engage in and which not to engage in. Abstracts of all presentations are in the IPRRC Program.
I will be attending the conference for the sixth time. Why would you say that a PR practitioner should consider this conference?
Several reasons. First, it is cutting edge research and thought. Second, the top academics are attending and presenting. Third, the professional often asks questions the academic hasn’t thought of (like “so what?”). And fourth, also in attendance and presenting are some of the best young graduate students –students who will be leading the way in the future. In addition, the conference Proceedings add to the published Body of Knowledge.
How can we keep up with the IPRRC?
All we do is found on the Institute for Public Relations website www.instituteforpr.org and will be on a complementary IPRRC website under construction. Some top social media researchers and measurement people will be tweeting from the conference.