Primer of Public Relations Research

Third Edition

Don W. Stacks

Hardcovere-bookprint + e-book
November 23, 2016
ISBN 9781462522705
Price: $66.00
404 Pages
Size: 6⅛" x 9¼"
October 26, 2016
Price: $66.00
404 Pages
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404 Pages
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Thousands of public relations (PR) students and professionals have relied on this authoritative text to understand the key role of research in planning and evaluating PR campaigns. Revised and expanded to reflect today's emphasis on standards-based practice, the third edition has a heightened emphasis on setting baselines, creating benchmarks, and assessing progress. Stacks presents step-by-step guidelines for using a wide range of qualitative and quantitative methods to track output, outtakes, and outcomes, and shows how to present research findings clearly to clients. Every chapter features review questions and a compelling practice problem. PowerPoint slides for use in teaching are provided at the companion website. Instructors requesting a desk copy also receive a supplemental Instructor's Manual with a test bank, suggested readings, and case studies.

New to This Edition: Pedagogical Features:

“While designed primarily for the classroom, where it will be welcomed by students and faculty alike. Dr. Stacks' book promises to be the reference of choice for legions of practitioners who studied history, political science or anthropology in college. Why? Because the author has stripped away the gobbledygook of academic research—to the extent that's possible—and created a user-friendly overview of the subject….The Primer of Public Relations Research…should be a part of every practitioner's library.”

Public Relations Quarterly (on the first edition)

“The book's excellent organization makes it easy to use as a reference. If you have a specific question, there is more than likely a section that addresses it in a concise manner. The research terminology is explained in depth.”

The Measurement Standard (on the first edition)

“Stacks provides a comprehensive manual that details how to bridge the rigors of scientific research with the issues confronting contemporary practice. Valuable updates in the third edition include a foundational grounding in global research standards and an overview of Big Data that is clear, complete, and concise.”

—Patricia Curtin, PhD, Professor and Endowed Chair in Public Relations, University of Oregon

“An ideal textbook for PR students worldwide, and one that also belongs on the reference shelf of every 21st-century practitioner. The third edition describes and evaluates the most recent research methods and findings and provides current examples that students will relate to. The organization is logical and linear and the book is amazingly comprehensive, discussing everything from Big Data to research ethics.”

—Dean Kruckeberg, PhD, Department of Communication Studies, University of North Carolina at Charlotte

“Stacks has produced a classic in PR education. As the definitive text on PR research applications and methods, this third edition should be on the desk of every student who wants to learn the practice of PR and on the bookshelf of every professional. The text covers every aspect of PR research, from the theoretical to the practical.”

—David Michaelson, PhD, Head of Research and Analytics, Teneo Strategy

“I have used Primer of Public Relations Research as the textbook for my PR research course for over a decade. It is the go-to book for teaching undergraduate PR majors and graduate students about the value of research in PR practice; social scientific approaches to research design, data analysis, and sense-making; and rigorous ways to monitor and evaluate the effectiveness of campaigns and programs. The integration of theory and practice—as well as the applications in different PR areas—make this book extremely valuable to educators, practitioners, and students.”

—Yan Jin, PhD, Department of Advertising and Public Relations, Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of Georgia

Table of Contents

I. An Introduction to Research in Public Relations

1. Understanding Research: An Introduction with Public Relations Implications sample

2. Management of Research in Public Relations

3. Standards for Conducting Public Relations Research

II. Necessary Considerations for Quantification

4. Measuring Outcomes

5. Data and Data Sets

6. Descriptive Statistical Reasoning and Computer Analysis

7. Ethical Concerns in Public Relations Research, with Shannon A. Bowen

III. Research Methodology

8. Qualitative Research Methodology: Content Analysis

9. Qualitative Research Methodology: Historical and Secondary Research Methods

10. Qualitative Research Methodology: Case Studies

11. Qualitative Research Methodology: Methods of Observing People, Shannon A. Bowen

12. Quantitative Research Methodology: Sampling Messages and People

13. Quantitative Research Methodology: Survey and Poll Methods

14. Quantitative Research Methodology: The Experimental Method

15. Quantitative Statistics: Advanced Inferential Statistical Reasoning and Computer Analysis

IV. Obtaining and Reporting Public Relations Research

16. Putting It All Together

Appendix: Dictionary of Public Relations Measurement and Research

About the Author

Don W. Stacks, PhD, is Professor Emeritus of Public Relations/Corporate Communication in the School of Communication at the University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida. He served as Director of the Public Relations Program from 1995 to 2009 and Associate Dean for Faculty Research and Creative Support from 2009 to 2013. Dr. Stacks has written more than 300 scholarly articles and papers and has authored or coauthored 10 books on communication topics. He is the recipient of honors including the Outstanding Educator Award from the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA); the Jackson, Jackson, and Wagner Behavioral Science Prize from the PRSA Foundation; and the Distinguished Research Fellow and Distinguished Teaching Fellow awards from the Eastern Communication Association. Dr. Stacks has been an active communication consultant since the 1970s. His areas of expertise include organizational systems assessment, sociological/psychological organizational analysis, media relations, internal organizational communications, and leadership; he is also a trained listening specialist. Dr. Stacks serves on the editorial boards of numerous communication and public relations journals, is editor of Communications Research Reports (vols. 31–33), and directs the annual International Public Relations Research Conference. He is a trustee of the Institute for Public Relations and the Arthur W. Page Society and serves on the boards of the International Public Relations Association and the Commission on Public Relations Measurement and Evaluation.


Shannon A. Bowen, PhD, School of Journalism and Mass Communication, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina


Communications and advertising students taking public relations courses; public relations practitioners.

Course Use

Serves as a text in such courses as Public Relations, Public Relations Research, Methods in Public Relations, and Mass Communication Research Methods.
Previous editions published by Guilford:

Second Edition, © 2011
ISBN: 9781593855956

First Edition, © 2002
ISBN: 9781572307261
New to this edition: