This study was designed to investigate the effectiveness of public relation companies in changing or building the public’s impression of media figures through media portrayals. The primary hypothesis of study stated that participants would form impression of the presented media figure in accordance to the focus of the media description they receive. A total of 26 undergraduate students recruited from the Psychology 201 course at Simon Fraser University participated in this study. Participants were asked to complete one questionnaire that asked them to indicate their familiarity of the media figures, read short descriptions and indicate their impressions of the media figures. As expected, it was found participants that received positive media descriptions indicated positive impressions of the media figure, and those who received negative media descriptions indicated negative impressions of the media figure. Given these findings it is conceivable that public relation companies achieve their success by harnessing the power of the various outlets of the mass media.
Effectiveness of Public Relation Companies: The Effects of Media Descriptions on
Impressions of Media Figures
Public relation companies attempt to get the attention of the public and shape public opinion by placing stories in the media. Interestingly, the public relations business has grown in to a multi-billion dollar industry that has become an integral part of modern business and political life (Corporate Watch UK, 2003). Given the ramifications of public relations industry, this research investigated the ways in which public relations companies build or change the public’s impression of their client through the mass media. The mass media in all its forms can have tremendous influence on numerous aspects of one’s everyday life. In particular, it has been found that media portrayals are valuable in shaping attitudes about people because they can be used to convey a sense of credibility, gain the attention of the audience and evoke feelings (Graber, 1988). This may explain the profound interest in the influence of media on mainstream society.
The mass media has expanded its means of communications from newspapers and radios to television and the modern internet. With this expansion has come a greater potential influence from the media upon the viewer, which has sparked research into this potential phenomenon. Previous research has particularly been directed at studying media influence upon voters for elections, or voter’s impressions of the candidates. For example, it was studied if the internet had any influence on the 2000 American Presidential election, and it was found that the candidates’ portrayals on their respective websites may have contributed to the eventual election of George W. Bush over Al Gore (Verser & Wicks, 2006). Furthermore, Ban, Bantimaroudis, and Kiousis (1999) found that people’s impressions of candidates’ personality traits...