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Professor named associate editor for online research center

BOONE—Dr. Tina McCorkindale, an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Appalachian State University, will serve as an editor for an innovative online research center focusing on the science of social media.

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The Institute for Public Relations (IPR) launched the free online research center at Wednesday, Oct. 31. McCorkindale will serve as associate editor, along with Dr. Marcia DiStaso of Penn State. Dr. Donald Wright of Boston University is the editor and leads the editorial board.

McCorkindale’s research focuses on public relations, organizations and social media, and transparency and authenticity as it applies to social media.

“Because of the tremendous increase in social media research that affects companies, we wanted to develop an online center where companies and academics can go to learn about what’s happening in social media research,” McCorkindale explained. “We feature articles about social media not just in public relations but in other areas that impact organizations.”

The website begins with summaries of more than 30 articles or books about social media from public relations research literature. Plans are underway to add information about social media research from practitioners and academic disciplines including journalism, mass communication, business and the social sciences.

“This unique center provides a consolidated source for research-based knowledge about social media and the role it plays in the science beneath the art of public relations,” said IPR President and CEO Frank Ovaitt. “The editors describe each study in terms of what the research found and how practitioners can use it.”

Each article summary includes an extended abstract, comments about the research methodology, key findings and implications for the practice. The site also provides opportunities for public relations practitioners, academics and business leaders to comment on the research, how they will use it and what additional research they would like to see.

McCorkindale further elaborated on the benefit of the project. “Each article summary includes information about the article that would be helpful for the public relations professional, such as a summary, the method, key findings, and implications for practice,” she said. “We know professionals are busy so we wanted to give them an outline of the research and then provide them links to purchase or access the full articles. We are always looking for more articles to include in the database.”

One featured article reports on a recent online survey of more than 1,000 public relations practitioners about Wikipedia. Sixty percent of the study’s respondents who were familiar with a Wikipedia article about their organization (or client) said that the article contained factual errors. The study also found it is difficult and frustrating for public relations professionals to correct Wikipedia’s many mistakes.

Other articles on the site examine social media communication between journalists and public relations people; look at how organizations are engaging stakeholders via Twitter; provide a content analysis of Facebook use by Fortune 100 companies; and track the use of social and other emerging media in public relations practice during the past seven years.

The Institute for Public Relations is an independent foundation dedicated to the science beneath the art of public relations™ and focused on research that is applicable in communications practice. Its research is available free at and provides the basis for the organization’s professional conferences and events.

For more information about the Department of Communication, visit