Two Missouri School of Journalism Graduate students receive ‘best paper’ at international conference

Courtney Boman and Erika Schneider

Columbia, Mo. (May 29, 2020) — Two Missouri School of Journalism graduate students, Courtney Boman and Erika Schneider, were awarded Best Paper on the 23rd IPRRC Theme Award: Connecting Theory and Research with Public Relations Practice at the International Public Relations Research Conference.

Their paper is titled “Increasing Sincerity and Credibility through CCS to Stabilize Crisis Outcomes.” This research project’s main goal was to provide more specific guidance for practitioners on how they can respond to crisis situations. Additionally, they wanted to see how different sources impact how a post-crisis message is received.

“Erika and I have industry experience and we wanted to provide a better understanding of how the source, or who releases the post-crisis message, can effect post-crisis outcomes such as organizational reputation damage,” said Boman.

Boman and Schneider, along with former School of Journalism assistant professor Heather Akin, conducted an experiment looking at statements released by three different sources on Facebook including an organization itself, the CEO of the organization, and a third-party news outlet.

The team found that regardless of who releases the statement about the crisis event, what matters is exhibiting characteristics of sincerity.

“Our findings suggest that showing sincerity was found to lessen damage to organizational reputation and the possibility of individuals spreading negative information regarding the crisis,” said Boman. “Exhibiting sincerity can significantly improve outcomes such as organizational reputation and negative social amplification.”

Boman just graduated with her doctorate from the School’s strategic communication department, where she focused on crisis/risk communication. She will be starting at the University of Alabama in August as a tenure-track assistant professor of public relations.

Schneider is a third-year Ph.D. student in strategic communication with a focus on crisis/risk communication. She enjoys exploring the effectiveness of messaging in disaster and health topics by evaluating public perceptions.

“Creating research outcomes that help further theory, but also can help practitioners is important to the both of us,” said Schneider. “Receiving an award focused on connecting theory to practice shows us we’re on the right path.”

Both Boman and Schneider were able to attend the conference in March to present their findings. The manuscript is currently undergoing the peer-review process and the authors have continued this research stream to drive scholarship that bridges the academia-practice gap.

“It’s so exciting to see our doctoral students conduct and present cutting-edge research that is recognized by scholars and professional in the field,” said Earnest Perry, associate dean for graduate studies. “I’m sure we will see more of their work in the future.”

The IPRRC is a nonprofit dedicated to supporting socially beneficial public relations research that increases understanding, builds relationships, support ethical socially responsible performance, and advances the development of an increasingly democratic global society.

Updated: May 29, 2020

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