Professional Studies and Fine Arts

Professional Studies and Fine Arts

JMS Students Win “Big Jack” Award at Research Conference

Two graduate teams from the School of Journalism and Media Studies present at the International Public Relations Research Conference

JMS Students Win “Big Jack” Award at Research Conference

March 13, 2019

By Amy Truesdale

March 13, 2019

Since 2008, the School of Journalism and Media Studies’ military PAO students have been competitively presenting at the International Public Relations Research Conference (IPRRC). This year, the School of Journalism and Media Studies was represented by both PAO students and SJMS Professors, Hongmei Shen and Kaye Sweetser, when they traveled to Orlando to present their research.

“The International Public Relations Research Conference is a fantastic opportunity for practitioners from the field to meet with scholars researching important issues,” said Dr. Kaye Sweetser, APR+M, Fellow PRSA, professor of public relations and coordinator for the JMS Military Public Affairs Master’s Program at SDSU. “Through small-group round-table discussions, the conference brings both sides of the industry together to discuss ways to improve our understanding of public relations and the practice of our craft. The SDSU graduate students who presented at the IPRRC competed alongside prestigious groups of scholars and practitioners. To have a paper accepted is not only an indication that their research topic is of prime concern to the industry, but also that their methodology is sound and rigorous.”

The two military-civilian graduate student teams that participated at IRRPC were made up of one all-Marine team and one Navy-civilian mix. The papers the students presented were:

The Few, the proud, the satisfied? The relationship between perceptions of public affairs practitioners and their job satisfaction in the U.S. Marine Corps; Authors (all Marines): Sarah Burns Mobilio, APR+M; Timothy R. Irish, APR+M; Joshua W. Larson; & Matthew W. Finnerty, APR+M

Power before function: How does the U.S. Navy’s dominant coalition perceive public relations?; Authors: (2 Navy + 1 civilian): Patricia C. Kreuzberger, APR+M; Kelly Doran; & Matthew A. Comer, APR+M

U.S. Marine Major Timothy Irish, APR+M, a graduate student in JMS (expected class of 2019), commented on his team’s submission to IRRPC and the importance of the organization’s leadership understanding the role and value of public affairs on the mission. “If we are deployed to a country to perform humanitarian assistance missions and save lives after natural disasters, the PAO [Public Affairs Officer] helps spread the message that saves lives. Clearly, this is not a situation for you and your boss to have a different concept of what your job is and how you do it. We explored this concept of role ambiguity through a survey of active-duty U.S. Marine communication strategy and operations officers and their commanding generals.”

Irish and his colleagues found that in the Marine Corps, leadership appears to correctly understand the role of public affairs, which the research teams suggests enables Marine Communication Strategy officers to better perform public affairs in support of the mission.

Additionally, Sweetser noted that “the teams that traveled to Orlando this year for the International Public Relations Research Conference represent where we are as a larger field in society. Both teams investigated how an organization’s leadership understands what public relations does for the company, but also the value we add to the mission. Even though both teams of papers are focused within the military context, the findings can easily be generalized to civilian corporate and nonprofit public relations.”

In the past six years of the IRRPC Conference, the PAO students participating have received the “Big Jack” Award for Best Presentation, five times. This year in Orlando, the award was taken home by SDSU’s all Marine team. The School of Journalism and Media Studies celebrate the achievements of all participating groups, and congratulates Sarah Burns Mobilio, Timothy Irish, Joshua Larson, and Matthew Finnerty for their success at taking home the prestigious award for the best presentation of their completed research.

The content within this article has been edited by Lizbeth Persons.

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