Theses and Dissertations - Department of Advertising and Public Relations

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    Assessing Brand-Consumer Personality Congruence on Twitter: A Computational Textual Analysis Approach
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Bruce, Kelsey Lauren; Hayes, Jameson; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Brands gain importance to consumers when the consumer supplies meaning or value to the brand (McCracken, 1993). BP allows consumers to use brands for self-expression (deChernatony, 1999; Johar & Sirgy; 1991; McCracken, 1986) and establish relationships with brands (Fournier, 1998; Keller, 2003; Meenaghan, 1995). Research shows that consumers are attracted to brands that align with their own personality traits (Escalas & Bettman, 2005; Johar et al., 2005; Landon, 1974). Brand personality has become an integral part of a brand’s social media presence. However, the few researchers who are exploring the role of personality in a brand's social media communications are opting to use Aaker's (1997) BP questionnaire (Xu et al., 2016) or psychologist personality measures (Pentina, Zhang, & Basmanova, 2013; Yun et al., 2019). This study will utilize the computational textual analysis software Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC; Pennebaker, Francis, & King, 2001) and a custom adapted adjective-based dictionary (Opoku, 2006) to examine BP in brand communication on Twitter. The primary goal of this study was to examine whether consumer engagement, either directly with specific highly social brands or just within a product type, moderates the effect of brand/consumer personality congruence. Towards these ends, we found that consumers who engage with brands identified as highly social are more likely to exhibit personality congruence than consumers who are engaging with a product type. The analysis revealed that the BP dimension has a direct impact on whether consumers engaging with the brand demonstrate congruence.
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    The Portrayal of Asian Americans in Advertisements from 2011 to 2020
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Berry, Dana; Gower, Karla; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    When it comes to research on racial stereotyping in advertising, Asian Americans are often overlooked. Past studies found that stereotypes associated with this minority group were present throughout advertisements, creating a potentially harmful portrayal of Asian Americans along the way. This study explored whether Asian-American stereotypes are still prevalent in recent advertisements from 2011-2020, and if so, to what extent any portrayals have changed over the course of the past 10 years. This examination of the top 20 U.S. brands in terms of advertising budgets analyzed these advertisements through a content analysis, using several categories: Frequency, Setting, Product Category, and Prominence. The results found that advertisements still depicted Asian Americans by using many of the long-held stereotypes, but steps toward progression are being made. The study found Asian Americans were most likely to be featured in a business setting, as well as in advertisements for technology or business products, which are the stereotypes often associated with this group. Advertisements most frequently presented Asian Americans in an equal role, followed by minor and background roles, rather than a major role. The frequency of Asian Americans found in background roles has decreased notably since 2011, as have the number of advertisements where Asian Americans were not represented, indicating steps in a positive direction for advertisers.
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    The attitudes of solo travelers using Q methodology
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2021) Williamson, Hannah Kay; Holiday, Steven; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    As more Americans choose to solo travel for leisure, the need to understand theirattitudes and motivations for wanting to travel alone increases. Based on the Functional Attitude Theory, the motivations of solo travelers can be influenced by the five attitude functions: Utilitarian, ego-defensive, social-expressive, value-expressive, and knowledge. By understanding which attitude function influences solo travel actions, industry professionals in public relations, advertising, and marketing can develop messaging that resonates strongly with that attitude and therefore increases the return on investment within this target market. Given the subjectivity of motivations, the use of Q-Methodology allows for a quantitative and qualitative analysis of the participant’s viewpoint relative to the experience of traveling alone. With Q-Methodology’s focus on the viewpoint of the participant, this study results in quantifying where that viewpoint intersects among the entire sample and establishes a foundational commonality among solo travel motivations.
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    Visual framing, racial identity and perceived femininity impacts on public perceptions of transgressive female athletes
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Walters, Justin Caleb; Kinney, Lance; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    While issues surrounding the race and sex of athletes, as well as the transgressive acts of athletes, are frequent mass media research topics and are fervently discussed in sports media, the recent intersection of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement and subsequent high-profile protests by U.S. athletes has focused attention toward enduring issues of racial concern regarding athletes and sports fans. This research experimentally investigated issues surrounding American spectators’ racial attitudes, the spectator’s sex, an athlete’s race and the athlete’s sex to determine if race and the subject’s perceived femininity impact perceptions of female athletes committing transgressive acts. Theory bases for this research include Visual Framing Theory, Social Identity Theory, Self-categorization Theory and mass media stereotyping of Blacks. This research reports the results of a 2 (race: White female athlete/Black female athlete) x 2 (visual frame: athlete with tattoos/athlete without tattoos) experiment to investigate public responses to a female athlete accused of using steroids. A total of 263 female participants read a simulated media report, then provided responses concerning an appropriate punishment for the athlete. Each participant also reported her personal strength of racial identity using the Racial Identity Attitude Scale (RIAS) as well as her perceived level of femininity using the Femininity Ideology Scale (FIS). These results were used as control variables in subsequent statistical analyses. Results were inconclusive regarding strength of racial identity or perceived femininity as indicators of punishment length for the transgressive female athletes. Though results were not statistically significant, the data does trend in the hypothesized direction.
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    How public relations agencies communicate diversity and inclusion practices on their websites
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Trujillo, Gloris; Ki, Eyun-Jung; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The public relations industry is making an effort to attain a more diverse workforce that can better represent the society that we live in and achieve the best results for clients. Using the “Leveraging variety” model (Ravazzani, 2015) as a theoretical framework, this research explores how public relations agencies are addressing and communicating their diversity and inclusion efforts through their websites. The purpose of this study is to evaluate the status of diversity and inclusion in public relations and describe how agencies are communicating those diversity and inclusion organizational practices as a way that could attract more diverse talent and improve organizational reputation. This study conducted a content analysis of 236 public relations agencies’ websites and photographs on those websites. Findings show that diversity is portrayed as a broader spectrum, as diversity of perspectives and backgrounds, not as a specific dimension. Gender and disability were found to be the most frequently mentioned dimensions of diversity. Additionally, the present study found that photographs on the websites do not reflect a diverse workforce in terms of race. In terms of gender, photographs that portrayed female and male employees together were the most frequent on the websites. According to the different approaches of diversity, this study found that most of the agencies fall into the “Assimilating minorities” approach, which has been considered the most basic approach to diversity (Uysal, 2013).
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    The (mis)representation of interracial couples in television advertisements
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2020) Hackenmueller, Erin; Holiday, Steven; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Interracial couples are becoming more common, but they still face stigmatization and discrimination. The present study aimed to gain a preliminarily understanding of if and how interracial couples are represented in television advertisements. This study performed a content analysis of 543 couples in television advertisements from 2019 for differences in representation and portrayal between interracial and intraracial relationships. All advertisements were taken from three different networks within one conglomerate. Findings suggest that interracial relationships are overrepresented. However, interracial couples are found at further distances from each other, a relationship between nonwhite males and white females are underrepresented within interracial relationships, and zero interracial relationships are portrayed on Disney channel. The potential effects of this representation and portrayal are driven by cultivation theory and social cognitive theory.
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    The influence of consumer-brand relationship strength and platform context on the privacy calculus in personalized advertising
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Moeller, Claire Anne; Hayes, Jameson L.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    To an advertiser, personalized advertising means shrinking the purchase decision funnel - delivering relevant content to the right user at the right time. However, personalized advertising is a double-edged sword for consumers. This tension between consumers wanting relevant advertisements yet feeling discomfort when faced with a personalized advertisement that used their data without their consent has been labeled as the personalization privacy paradox (Aguirre, Mahr, Grewal, de Ruyter, & Wetzels, 2015; Awad & Krishnan, 2006). In this scenario, through the privacy calculus lens, consumers behave as if they are performing a risk-benefit analysis in assessing the result of information disclosure (Xu, Luo, Carroll, & Rosson, 2011). This research explored the relationship between advertising personalization and privacy by examining the impact of two previously unconsidered factors influencing the risk-benefit analysis: the consumer-brand relationship between the ad recipient and the brand being advertised and the platform context, Facebook vs. Twitter, wherein the ads are delivered. We found no effects for platform context on the consumer’s perceived benefits and risks of information disclosure. We also found that when strong brand relationships are present, if perceived benefit is high, then perceived risk minimally alters the consumer’s perceived value. Furthermore, with weaker brand relationships, perceived risk has a stronger effect on perceived value even when the perceived benefit is high.
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    Social identity and language use in digital community development
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2019) Keller, Joseph Nathaniel; Phelps, Joseph; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The change in how closely individualist and collectivist subjects identified with a publisher was investigated using Social Identity Theory and Geert Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions. Social Identity Theory as proposed by Henry Tajfel provides a conceptual framework for group interaction and outlines how one group behaves in response to threats or cooperative overtures by outside groups. Hofstede’s Cultural Dimensions provides a basis for how to compare and examine the differences between groups. Subjects were tested to establish their collectivist or individualist tendencies based on Hofstede’s individualism vs collectivism dimension. After subject tendencies were determined a baseline of how closely subjects identified with a a game publisher was established. Subjects then viewed a randomly assigned news release variants: Collectivistically worded or Individualistically worded. Subjects were then retested to see what if any change occurred in how closely they identified with the publisher as a result of the release they viewed. Contrary to Social Identity Theory subjects did not identify more closely with the publisher when the language used in communication matched the collectivism or individualism of the subject. Subjects did not increase significantly in their identity with the publisher when language did not match but there was directional support for some of the hypotheses.
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    Risk communication and crisis management: lessons learned from the hurricane katrina experience
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Smyth, Justice; Horsley, J. Suzanne; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    In August of 2005, the City of New Orleans and its surrounding environs fell victim to Hurricane Katrina, one of the most destructive natural disasters to occur in the United States over the past 100 years. This study addressed the question of whether, and, if so, to what extent, local media in the greater New Orleans area communicated to the population groups with the most limited resources the grave risks associated with hurricanes in general and Katrina in particular. This study examined two local newspapers, the Times-Picayune and the Louisiana Weekly, for risk communication content published from June 1, 2005, through August 29, 2005. The results of the study found that while adequate information was published in the pages of the newspapers under examination, many citizens in the Greater New Orleans Area either did not, or could not, act upon the advice and instructions given. Possibilities for this inaction included distrust of the messages or messengers, optimism bias due to previous personal experiences during storm season, or an inability to act due to circumstantial realities related to socio-economic status of the many at-risk citizens living at, or below, the poverty level. Hurricane Katrina resulted in more than 1,300 deaths and property damage in excess of $100 billion. Effectively communicating about risk is important, and the consequence of failure can be very serious. This research has endeavored, therefore, to provide meaningful analysis of certain effects which were visited upon vulnerable population groups in New Orleans, at least in part, as the result of the risk communication process related to Hurricane Katrina.
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    Framing common core: a comparative analysis of media and policy agenda setting in Oklahoma and New Mexico
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2018) Kirkland, Stephanie Brumfield; Gonzenbach, William J.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Education has been cited as an important political issue in the United States for decades, yet little research has been done on how the media influence education policy. The Common Core State Standards—which were recently adopted by nearly all 50 states—present an especially interesting case study of how the media can influence different policy outcomes in different places. This study investigated whether agenda setting and differences in framing by the media could have played a role in differing policy outcomes regarding Common Core in two states, Oklahoma and New Mexico. A content analysis was conducted of all newspaper articles referencing Common Core in the largest daily circulation newspapers in Oklahoma and New Mexico from 2010 through 2016, and the frequency of media coverage was compared to the amount of legislation regarding Common Core that was discussed by each state legislature during that same time period. A descriptive analysis was conducted to determine whether the media influenced the policy agenda or vice versa in each location. Additionally, a more in-depth content analysis of newspaper articles was conducted to determine whether there were differences in how Common Core was described, or framed, by the media in each state. Results indicate that there were indeed differences in who set the agenda and how Common Core was described by the media in each state. Whereas the policy agenda set the media agenda in Oklahoma (where Common Core was eventually repealed), the media agenda appeared to set the policy agenda in New Mexico (where Common Core has been largely supported). Moreover, Common Core was uniquely described in Oklahoma media outlets as a federal overreach into state issues, whereas New Mexico media uniquely described Common Core as an assessment tool and accountability measure and allotted substantial space to discussing the details of the standards as well as the logistics of implementing them. Although more research needs to be done, this study seems to indicate that traditional news media continue to play a strong role in politics via agenda setting.
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    The framing of Caitlyn Jenner: a textual analysis
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Pettway, Morgan; Brown, Kenon A.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    In April 2015, Caitlyn Jenner, formally known as Bruce, announced that she was transitioning into a woman. Through the observation of framing models and framing devices, a textual analysis was conducted within print and audiovisual data to gain an understanding of how framing was used to manage or shape Jenner’s unfolding image as a transgender woman. The researcher also investigated the overall tone of Jenner’s representation to decipher whether she was portrayed in a negative or positive manner. Based upon the findings, the prominent framing models that were observed in the texts were the framing of situations and the framing of attributes. The prominent framing devices of contrast and spin were also present. Furthermore, the findings indicated that Jenner was portrayed in an overall positive manner. The findings of this study build upon the current knowledge of framing and demonstrate the utility of framing in the management of a transgender celebrity’s image. The utility of framing is also presented as an opportunity for application among other celebrity happenings in the media.
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    Twitter as a platform for engaging political dialogue: a dialogic theory content analysis of Donald Trump's general election campaign Twitter feed
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Foster, Callie Smith; Kinney, Lance T.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The Internet and social media are tools that possess the ability to make communicating with celebrities, politicians and all types of important figures an actual possibility. This content analysis explores the use of then- presidential candidate Donald Trump’s use of Twitter to communicate with his followers. A random sample of tweets was selected following the time period after the Republican National Convention to a week after the general election. The study relies on Kent and Taylor’s (2001) principle strategies of how to create effective relationship building through dialogue. There is very little research available concerning political candidates and dialogic theory on social media. However, what is found in this study remains consistent with that of similar studies on dialogic theory and celebrities and organizations’ use of social media. Social media as a tool for building effective relationships through the use of dialogic principles is severely under-utilized. Despite the lack of dialogic principles, Trump’s followers remained highly engaged into his tweeting habits, especially with tweets that attacked an individual or the media. The findings prove that these types of tweets were published most often thus lending credence to assert that the aggressive rhetoric was popular amongst his followers.
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    Experimental comparison of two post-crisis communication strategies: discourse of renewal theory and bolstering
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Shi, Zhe; Kinney, Lance T.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Public relations theorists investigating organizational crisis communication have suggested discourse of renewal theory (DRT) as an alternative to more standard apologia tactics. DRT advises organizations in crisis to give the chief executive officer a prominent communication role (rather than other organization personnel or outside consultants). DRT also advises forward-looking communication tactics highlighting potential for organizational growth, improved operations and necessary change. The experiment reported here is the first-known experimental investigation of DRT-based crisis responses. A non-random sample of 114 undergraduate students were randomly assigned to one of four crisis response treatments: CEO-attributed DRT responses, CEO–attributed organizational bolstering responses, non-CEO attributed DRT responses and non-CEO organizational bolstering responses. Contrary to DRT-derived hypotheses, CEO-attributed responses did not generate significantly higher mean attitude toward the organization, message credibility or organizational credibility when compared to non-CEO attributed responses. Similarly, DRT responses did not outperform more standard bolstering apologia tactics.
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    A thematic analysis of Heisman Trophy winners: coverage 2000-2015
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Grijalva, Alessia R.; Lamme, Margot Opdycke; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    In 1935 the inaugural Heisman Memorial Award was presented at the end of the college football season and continues to serve as a symbol of athletic excellence for winners. The publicity can also earn schools media attention, and maintaining the relationships with the media has been an important strategy in sports public relations. This research then delves into the thematic elements of media coverage for the Heisman winners over the past 15 years and searches for commonalities among sources, themes and other elements in regards to coverage. It was found that journalists we engaged with the Heisman story before, during, and after the season, and their coverage can differ greatly. Starting from late July and early August, preseason predictions and watch lists made their way to the forefront. Coverage, however, tended to peak in mid to late November, when the candidates of the Heisman were usually narrowed down to four or five athletes. An analysis of the coverage revealed three themes emerging across media outlets and over time: personality, personal issues, and athleticism. These insights can help sports information directors develop more targeted narratives in telling the stories that are most likely to resonant with sports reporters and other Heisman voters.
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    Seeing through the smoke an analysis of the Volkswagen emissions crisis
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2017) Seay, Leah; Lamme, Margot Opdycke; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    In September 2015, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency accused German automaker Volkswagen of fitting more than 11 million vehicles with illegal software that caused vehicles to emit reduced amounts of toxic nitrogen oxide when detecting they were being tested but that actually emitted more than 40 times the legal standard of gases when not being tested. These “defeat cheat” devices, along with Volkswagen’s reactionary crisis communication, proved to have detrimental financial, global, and environmental ramifications on the corporation. The automaker’s deception also led to a loss of consumer trust in Volkswagen’s vow to behave as a good corporate citizen. After recalling more than 8.5 million vehicles, ceasing the sale of numerous diesel vehicles in the U.S, and seeing its first quarterly loss in 15 years, Volkswagen managed to regain its title as number one carmaker in the world, despite scrambling to find answers to the company’s worst crisis in its 79-year history. This study examines media coverage of Volkswagen’s communication of its emissions crisis to key stakeholder groups and the effects of that communication on the company’s reputation as a corporate citizen.
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    Effects of organization sustainability communication: the influence of interactivity, message appeal, and type of medium
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2016) Oh, Jeyoung; Ki, Eyun-Jung; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    To understand how interactivity, message appeal, and type of medium affect public perceptions and reactions to an organization in organization sustainability communication, this study conducted a 2 (interactivity: high vs. low) x 2 (message appeal: gain-focused vs. loss-focused) x 2 (medium type: Facebook vs. organizational blog) experimental survey (N = 394). Results show that the level of interactivity and type of message appeal appear to significantly influence the social presence of the message and the public’s positive word-of-mouth intention. The public’s intention to generate positive word-of-mouth was highest when the communication had high interactivity with a gain-focused message conveyed on the organization’s Facebook page.
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    The need for cognition and the adoption of new technology: a study of how the elaboration likelihood impacts diffusion of innovation
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2016) Lewis, Jeffrey Douglas; Gower, Karla; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The Elaboration Likelihood Model and Diffusion of Innovation are theories that describe decision-making processes. Diffusion of innovation explains the time it takes for individuals to learn about an innovation, try the innovation, and make the decision to adopt or reject it. The ELM suggests individuals use a dual process of thinking. The route to persuasion changes depending on how the person thinks. Each route targets different levels of thinking. This thesis investigates the relationship between the ELM and diffusion of innovation.
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    Expanding the beauty spectrum: a case study of Lupita Nyong’o as the brand ambassador for Lancôme cosmetics
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2016) Olugbode, Monsurat Olubukola; Lamme, Margot Opdycke; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    In 2014, Lupita Nyong’o became the first black spokeswoman for Lancôme Paris cosmetics, the first in the company’s 80-year history. Previously, the advertising industry took issue with using models outside of the European standard of beauty for various reasons including perceptions of consumer relatability and response, but Nyong’o’s contract is a direct challenge to this notion. The intent of this study to explore news coverage of the first year (April 2014 – April 2015) of Nyong’o’s contract with Lancôme to determine why Nyong’o was chosen as the first black ambassador, how the decision was received, and what the implications are for the beauty standards, especially the black beauty standard.
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    Dove "campaign for real beauty"
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2016) Goins, Kaitlin Elyse; Lamme, Margot Opdycke; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    The Dove Campaign for Real Beauty launched in the United States in 2004, challenging the norms of American beauty by featuring everyday women who were not skinny and flawless and who represented a range of ages, ethnicities, and races. Rooted in research and with the commitment to listen to women, Dove rolled out new sections of the campaign, each with a new target audience in mind, but all with the same message: all women are beautiful. However in the first ten years, the Campaign for Real Beauty did not change beauty standards overnight. What initially seemed to be a model CSR campaign proved to be a CSR campaign with many blemishes that has seemed to forget or departed from its original message about women’s “real” beauty. Nevertheless, the Dove Campaign for Real Beauty points to the importance of finding and embracing new technologies and exemplifies a model for an affective economy in the context of CSR.
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    Shattering the concrete ceiling: exploring the moderating effects of mass media messages as it relates to the perceived self-efficacy of African-American women
    (University of Alabama Libraries, 2016) Galloway, Brittany Joyce; Brown, Kenon A.; University of Alabama Tuscaloosa
    Past research has shown that there are few positive ethnically diverse role models in American society (Hackett & Betz, 1981). African-American women have identified the lack of racially identical role models as a significant barrier to attaining leadership positions within Corporate America. A cross-sectional survey was administered to explore how mass media images depicting counter-stereotypical images of African-American role models affect the self-efficacy beliefs of African-American women (195 respondents, 51%). The researcher also examined the participant’s ability to cope with stress and their reported level of career aspirations as predictors of their level of identification with the potential role model. The results indicated that African-American women have lower levels of both self-efficacy and career aspirations than women of other races (187 respondents, 49%). The results also indicated that the participant’s ability to cope with stress and level of career aspirations predicated their level of identification. Furthermore, the study found that a potential role models race significantly influenced the participants level of identification. This research will foster social change by identifying an effective approach to combating historical stereotypes that lower the self-efficacy of African-American women. Increasing the self-efficacy of African-American women could advance opportunities for minority women’s leadership and reduce the leadership gap in Corporate America.