17th Annual International Public Relations Research Conference
Public relations scholars have increasingly argued for the broader role of public relations and strategic communication in society (e.g., Taylor, 2010). That is, how can knowledge of public relations be used to make society better rather than simply making organizations more effective? This study examines how different types of public relations and strategic communication efforts contribute to citizens’ social capital and civic engagement. Specifically, this study uses data from the 2010 Pew Internet and American Life Project ‘Social Side of the Internet’ survey to examine the relationship between various strategic communication efforts by social, civic, professional, and religious organizations and individuals’ social capital and civic engagement.
Overall, the analyses suggest that organizations’ face-to-face meetings with their members foster interpersonal trust and both social-oriented and private-oriented civic engagement, and that organizations’ strategic communication via social media boosts both social-oriented and private-oriented civic engagement, whereas strategic communication via email, blogs and websites decreases social-oriented civic engagement. Theoretical and practical implications of the findings for the larger role of public relations and strategic communication in social capital and civic engagement are discussed.
Copyright © 2014, Institute for Public Relations
Institute for Public Relations
Place of Publication
Zhang, Weiwu and Abitbol, Alan, "The Role of Public Relations in Social Capital and Civic Engagement" (2014). Communication Faculty Publications. 45.