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PR professors honored with international research awards

Jun 27, 2018

Posted in: News

By Marcus Messner, Ph.D., Assoc. Prof.

Two Robertson School professors received prestigious awards at an international research conference in Europe this summer, while Robertson School faculty presented a total of nine research studies at the conference.

Yi (Grace) Ji, Ph.D., assistant professor, public relations
Yi (Grace) Ji, Ph.D., assistant professor, public relations

Dr. Yi “Grace” Ji and Dr. Baobao Song won the awards at the recent conference of the International Communication Association (ICA) in Prague in the Czech Republic.

“In the Robertson School, we’re all so happy for Dr. Ji and Dr. Song and so proud of their scholarly achievements,” said Dr. Hong Cheng, director of the School. “Winning these highly competitive awards at ICA, one of the most influential global conferences in the field of communication, speaks volumes for the quality of their scholarship.”

Ji was honored with the James E. Grunig and Larissa A. Grunig Outstanding Dissertation Award for her dissertation titled “Is social media worth the investment? Seeking relationship between social-mediated stockholder engagement and nonprofit public donation.” She successfully defended the dissertation at the University of Miami a year ago.

Ji said she was “extremely honored and humbled” by the award and thanked her dissertation chair Dr. Don W. Stacks and her committee members for their support at the University of Miami. Her dissertation was selected for the award from 21 submissions. Ji’s study examined the association between social media-based stakeholder engagement and organization financial performance in the nonprofit sector. She also presented two other studies at the conference.

Baobao Song, Ph.D., assistant professor, public relations
Baobao Song, Ph.D., assistant professor, public relations

Song won the Best Faculty Paper Award of ICA’s Public Relations Division for her study titled “Moderators of emotional appeals in CSR communication: Linking effective CSR communication to public relationship building.” Her experimental research examined a corporate social responsibility communication strategy that increased donations with emotional message appeals and group-membership identification appeals by a strategic focus on stakeholders’ sociocultural backgrounds.

In addition, Robertson School assistant professors Dr. Mallory Perryman, Dr. Karen McIntyre and Dr. Jeanine Guidry presented their research at the conference.

Perryman, an assistant professor in the journalism sequence, presented a grant-funded survey study that found that voters believed that news coverage was focused on the wrong election stories during the 2016 U.S presidential election. McIntyre, also a journalism professor, presented three studies with colleagues from the University of Oregon and the University of Texas that examined the new concept of solutions journalism, the public perceptions of journalistic roles, and news audiences’ perceptions of the news coverage of mass shootings. 

Guidry, an assistant professor in public relations, presented two health communication research studies that were written with several colleagues from VCU. The studies examined effective communication strategies to promote a new vaccine against the Zika virus and the use of the social media platform Pinterest for health communication about breast cancer.

“It’s truly amazing and exciting that the Robertson School has six colleagues’ research papers presented at one single ICA conference,” Cheng said. To him, these faculty members have made history for the Robertson School because they produced the largest number of authorships as well as the largest number of paper acceptances from the School for any ICA conference to date.

“I’m very optimistic and confident that with these first-rate scholars and other high-caliber research and professional faculty, the Robertson School will achieve great national and international prominence in scholarship, which will benefit all of our students,” Cheng added.