Editorial Record: Submitted June 8, 2021. Revised December 3, 2021. Accepted March 25, 2022.
Arien Rozelle Assistant Professor Department of Media and Communication St. John Fisher University Rochester, New York Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The social and political tensions of 2020 exposed an increased threat by hate groups attempting to spread extremist ideologies. Today, words have become weapons on social media and across all corners of the internet to persuade, recruit, mobilize and motivate. As undergraduate college students may seek to participate in activist work to combat hate and extremism, public relations research and theory can provide a roadmap for strategy.
Activism as a broad topic may pique the interest of many students and can be used to demonstrate the application of strategies, tactics, messaging and more. This activity attempts to situate activism into an existing introductory public relations course, by using it as the lens through which students examine the application of research and theory.
In this activity, students are given a fictional scenario: they have joined an anti-hate group on campus called Vaccinate Against Hate, which seeks to educate campuses across the country about hate groups and ways to fight the threat of extremist propaganda, conspiracy theories and calls to action. As a public relations student, they’ve been asked to work on developing a recruitment campaign, as well as an educational and awareness campaign for Vaccinate Against Hate.
Students will identify the research methods needed to craft Vaccinate Against Hate’s first campaigns. Then, they draw on public relations theories to guide their strategy. Through this activity, students are introduced to and apply a myriad of research methods and public relations theories, as well as the role of public relations in an activist context.
Keywords: teaching brief, in-class activity, activism, research, theory, public relations
The social and political tensions of 2020 exposed an increased threat by hate groups attempting to spread extremist ideologies. Today, words have become weapons on social media and across all corners of the internet to persuade, recruit, mobilize and motivate. As undergraduate college students may seek to participate in activist work to combat hate and extremism, public relations research and theory can provide a roadmap for strategy.
As noted by scholars like Mules (2021), there is increased discussion about the relationship between public relations practice and activism. But this discussion has not made its way into public relations curricula, other than in reference to activists being seen as oppositional to the objectives of an organization (Coombs & Holladay, 2013). Given that activists have successfully applied public relations strategies and tactics to achieve their objectives for at least 100 years (Ciszek, 2015), the study of their work can make a positive contribution to public relations curricula (Mules, 2021).
And, as Coombs and Holladay (2012) see the incorporation of activism studies into the curriculum “as central to broadening students’ education, it also holds promise for re-imagining the field and legitimizing the works of activists as an important component in public relations theory and research.” (p. 347)
While the addition of activism studies to public relations curricula may take time, or simply not be possible for many programs, one step that can be taken now is to incorporate assignments or activities with a focus on activism into existing courses.
Activism as a broad topic may pique the interest of many students and can be used to demonstrate the application of strategies, tactics, messaging and more. This activity attempts to situate activism into an existing introductory public relations course, by using it as the lens through which students examine the application of research and theory. As noted in the 2017 Commission on Public Relations Education report Fast Forward: Foundations and Future State. Educators and Practitioners, “Theory can get a bad rap because it sounds like all the stuff that never changes. In fact, public relations and public relations education, with our core commitment to research, are a master class in continually observing, questioning and adapting the theoretical drivers of what we do in practice. The world, the profession and education never stand still; our theory is in a similar state of adaptation.” (p. 16)
In this activity, students are given a fictional scenario: they have joined an anti-hate group on campus called Vaccinate Against Hate, which seeks to educate campuses across the country about hate groups and ways to fight the threat of extremist propaganda, conspiracy theories and calls to action. As a public relations student, they’ve been asked to work on developing a recruitment campaign, as well as an educational and awareness campaign for Vaccinate Against Hate.
Using Kathleen Kelly’s (2001) ROPES planning process (research, objectives, programming, evaluation, stewardship) as a starting point, students will identify the research methods needed to craft Vaccinate Against Hate’s first campaigns. Then, they draw on public relations theories to guide their strategy. Through this activity, students are introduced to and apply a myriad of research methods and public relations theories, as well as the role of public relations in an activist context.
STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES: This activity was used in Introduction to Public Relations and was created to align with the learning outcomes stated below. The student learning outcomes for this activity also correspond with selected student learning outcomes for the course:
Develop an awareness of the role that public relations plays within an organization and its key publics
Understand communication terms, theories, concepts and issues as they relate to public relations
Explore a range of real-life public relations scenarios through readings, discussions and assignments
Enhance communication skills as well as the ability to work individually and as part of a team
Demonstrate learning through discussions and assignments
EVIDENCE OF STUDENT LEARNING OUTCOMES:
This activity was created to align with the learning outcomes stated above. Here is a brief sampling of responses to a post-activity survey:
Did this activity help you to develop an awareness of the role that public relations plays within an organization and its key publics? Response: 100% YES (26 responses)
Did this activity help you understand communication/public relations terms, theories and models? Response: 100% YES (26 responses)
Did this activity help you better understand how theory applies to public relations? 100% YES (26 responses)
What did you learn about public relations from this activity?
“One thing that I learned about public relations from this activity was how different qualitative and quantitative research methods might be used to help inform a campaign.”
“I learned more in-depth about the theories behind the practice of PR and how they are utilized.”
“That research is really important before starting any type of PR campaign.”
“I learned about the specific research methods in a more in-depth way. Terms like two-step flow were introduced in a deeper way as well.”
“A better understanding of applied theory.”
As part of the assignment, students were also asked to identify a key takeaway, which they delivered at the end of their group presentations. Comments ranged from noting increased knowledge about public relations overall to a better understanding of the theories they had read about. Students also reported a more in-depth understanding of the importance of research to inform public relations campaigns, and that they developed a better understanding of how different qualitative and quantitative research methods might be used in practice.
Finally, students reported that this activity introduced them to the role of public relations in activism – something many stated they had not considered.
CONCLUSION: The introduction and application of research and theory in an ungraded assignment may have helped students to think critically and creatively about the content and assuaged fear about “getting a bad grade.” Theory tends to be a tough pill for many students to swallow but students were generally enthusiastic about participating in this activity.
Most groups had an easy time applying appropriate research methods and could quickly distinguish between qualitative and quantitative methods. Persuasion models were applied mostly accurately with most groups identifying inoculation theory as one of the most applicable theories to the assignment. Given the relevance and prevalence of social media influencers today, it came as little surprise that students were interested in the two-step flow theory. Other media and mass communication models were applied with varying degrees of understanding. Management theories proved confusing, which was expected, given that this assignment was deployed in an introductory course.
Overall, students dove into this assignment with energy and enthusiasm despite any challenges due to participating via Zoom. Using Google Slides, they created presentations that were well organized and demonstrated curiosity, critical thinking, and creativity. Ample time was provided for students to collaborate in class, which allowed them to adequately articulate their findings and present them to the class. As a result, most presentations exceeded expectations.
Future recommendations include providing students with an opportunity to conduct secondary research about activism prior to class in order to better prepare them for the assignment. Additional recommendations include adding details about the intended audience to the written directions, and revising the menu of theories provided to students, which notably did not include theories directly related to activism. Consideration may be given to remove the management models from the menu and replace them with activist theories. The addition of theories surrounding race, including Logan’s (2021) Corporate Responsibility to Race (CRR), may also be added as appropriate to the course.
ASSIGNMENT: Vaccinate Against Hate: Applying Research and Theory to the Fight Against Extremist Ideologies
This activity was created for an Introduction to Public Relations course in an online setting (Zoom) but can be adapted for upper-level research and theory classes, and/or to a course related to public relations and activism. It can also be easily adapted for use as an in-classroom activity.
Prior to class, students are asked to prepare for the activity by reading Page & Parnell chapter 4, and by listening to the segment “Neutralizing Hateful Propaganda,” from “No Silver Bullets,” an episode from WNYC’s On the Media podcast (2021). The episode features Kurt Braddock, author and professor of communications at American University, in a discussion about strategies and tactics to prevent radicalization before it happens.
In class, students are given the following fictional scenario:
Following a series of racist incidents involving members of the campus community, a student group has formed to combat hate and the proliferation of hate groups on college campuses across the country. The group, Vaccinate Against Hate, seeks to educate students about hate groups and works to find ways to combat the threat of extremism.
Vaccinate Against Hate needs communicators to help them recruit new members. As a student studying public relations, you have joined Vaccinate Against Hate to provide your expertise. You have been assigned two very important projects:
Develop a recruitment campaign in order to increase membership for the organization.
Research, plan and execute Vaccinate Against Hate’s first educational and awareness campaign to combat extremist ideologies. Your campaign will involve strategic messaging, media outreach, and elements of media literacy training.
Using the ROPES planning process as a starting point, you will identify the research needed in order to craft these campaigns, drawing on public relations theories to guide your strategy. Once you have identified the research and theories needed, you will present your findings to the class to make connections between research, theory, and practice.
Students are then placed in breakout groups of 4-5 students per group (40 minutes):
Step 1: In your group, discuss the fictional scenario and apply the podcast and fictional scenario to your readings.
Step 2: Discuss what strategies and tactics might be involved in the two campaigns for Vaccinate Against Hate.
Step 3: Create a slide deck that you will present to class. Required slides:
Slide 1: Identify the primary research methods that you would use in order to inform your initial recruitment campaign. Using the “Common Public Relations Research Methods” table (Page & Parnell, 2019, pg. 85) as a starting point, you will first consider the two type of research most appropriate: quantitative and/or qualitative. Then you will determine the appropriate method(s), which many include surveys, content analysis, digital analytics, focus groups, in-depth interviews and/or participant observation. Be specific in your responses and provide a rationale for using each method.
Media and mass communication models include: Agenda Setting/Framing, Two-Step Flow, Spiral of Silence, Diffusion of Innovations, Uses & Gratifications. Persuasion models include: Elaboration Likelihood Model, Inoculation, and Cialdini’s Principles of Influence. Management Models include: Excellence and Image Restoration Theory.
Slide 3: Identify the primary researchmethods that you would use in order to inform your educational and awareness campaign. Using the “Common Public Relations Research Methods” table (Page & Parnell, 2019, p. 85) as a starting point, be specific in your responses and provide a rationale for using each method.
Slide 4: Identify public relations theories that will guide the strategy for your educational and awareness campaign. Using the table “Ten Theories for Public Relations” (Page & Parnell, 2019, p. 91), as a starting point, be specific in your responses and provide a rationale for using each theory.
Slide 5: Each team member will identify one key takeaway. What did you learn about the role of public relations in activism?
Step 4: Present your slide deck. Each team member must present one slide to the class. Each team has five minutes to present.
Additional Teaching Notes:
Suggested time allotment for an 80-minute class:
Activity introduction: 5 minutes
Group work: 40 minutes
Presentations: 30 minutes
Final remarks: 5 minutes
Suggestions for further reading for upper-level courses: These readings may provide useful for upper-level students and classes seeking to dive deeper into the application of attitudinal inoculation as well as the applied use of persuasion in radicalization and counter-radicalization.
Braddock, K. (2019). Vaccinating against hate: Using attitudinal Inoculation to confer resistance to persuasion by extremist propaganda. Terrorism and Political Violence. 33(7), 1-24. http://doi.org/10.1080/09546553.2019.1693370
Braddock, K. (2020). Weaponized words: The strategic role of persuasion in violent radicalization and counter-radicalization. Cambridge University Press.
Page, J. T., & Parnell, L. J. (2019). Foundations of public relations: Research and Theory. Introduction to public relations: Strategic, digital, and socially responsible communication (pp. 80-106). Sage.
To cite this article: Rozelle, A. (2022). Vaccinate against hate: Using activism to teach applied PR research and theory. Journal of Public Relations Education, 8(2), 147-157. https://aejmc.us/jpre/?p=3096
Karen Freberg, Ph.D. Professor, Strategic Communication Department of Communication University of Louisville Louisville, KY Email: email@example.com
In the spring of 2020, much of the U.S. implemented a nationwide shutdown in response to the global pandemic COVID-19 that had a ripple effect on universities to close campuses. In the hard shift to online learning, many student organizations were left with little input about how to make their own transition to the digital realm. Through the lens of Self-Determination Theory, the following study surveyed current and recent PRSSA executive board members (n = 208) to gain insights about online chapter programming practices in the spring and fall terms of 2020, key concerns about online chapter management, and what online program training and resources are needed. Research-based best practices for online chapter management offer practical guidance for PRSSA chapters and support organizations to improve chapter leaders’ confidence and proficiency in producing online programming during COVID-19 and beyond.
Keywords: online organization, student organizations, zoom, online learning, self-determination theory, covid-19, PRSSA, Public Relations Student Society of America
In the spring of 2020, much of the United States (U.S). implemented a nationwide shutdown in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Such drastic nationwide actions had not been taken since the Spanish Flu outbreak more than 100 years ago. As U.S. states issued stay-at-home orders, that had a ripple effect on universities to close campuses and send students home, often with little notice to students, faculty, and staff. While classes remained in session through online modalities, the robust campus life experience waned. In the hard shift to online learning, many student organizations were left with little input about how to make their own transition to the digital realm.
This study examined how one such student organization, the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA), fared with online programming during COVID-19 in the spring and fall terms of 2020. A nationwide questionnaire was distributed to PRSSA executive board (e-board) members to determine what programming strategies and communication tools were used by chapters, which individuals and organizations provided guidance with online programming planning, key concerns of e-board members, and what types of training they desired to effectively manage their chapters in the online environment. This research is the third paper in a trio of PRSSA and pedagogical-related papers that uses Self-Determination Theory (SDT) as a basis for study to serve as a practical guide for PRSSA chapters and support organizations in developing innovative chapter management solutions and collaborative partnerships that will build a thriving community during COVID-19 and beyond.
PRSSA in a Pre-COVID World To study the effects of the pandemic on student organizations, the pre-pandemic structure of student organizations has to be established. Todd’s (2009) study of PRSSA, in particular, uncovered that professional advisers felt the organization would best serve students by acting as a bridge toward the professional world. That connection included having current PR practitioners assess student capstone projects, focusing on essential writing and web design skills. A look at the difference between universities with and without a PRSSA chapter illuminated the benefits of the organization even further. Previous research noted that faculty advisers considered PRSSA a “critical component” to the undergraduate experience and felt the organization had a responsibility to facilitate leadership development, provide aid in finding internships, and emulate real work practice before entering the field (Weed et al., 2020; Rogers, 2014). Apart from the applicability of the organization’s activities, students also joined and stayed in student organizations through self-determined motivations that stemmed from their needs being met (Filak & Pritchard, 2007). That implies students join PRSSA not only for the professional connections, but to build upon their personal goals as well.
Organization Issues in an Online World During COVID-19 In spring of 2020 universities were tested by the COVID-19 pandemic, driving PRSSA chapters to navigate a disrupted world in an attempt to #FlattenTheCurve (Merritt, 2020). Graduations were canceled. Classes were rushed into an online modality. Businesses also learned to navigate a 100% virtual work environment forcing students to “make the most of a summer without a traditional internship” (Charron, 2020, para. 1). Likewise, university extracurricular activities were also in unfamiliar territory. In April 2020, the PRSSA National Leadership Assembly was relegated to a virtual town hall with officer elections moved online (PRSA, 2020), Star Chapter requirements were reduced and amended to remove the high school outreach component, and for the first time in PRSSA history, the international conference took place online (PRSSA, 2020). PRSSA members and faculty advisers were attempting to navigate change and preparing for a “new normal” during a tumultuous time on campuses across the nation. This subsequently presented new challenges and opportunities to organizations run by volunteer students and faculty.
Higher Education Issues Very little was known pre-COVID-19 regarding how students, required to move to an online learning environment from an in-class learning environment, might react during a widespread emergency. Post COVID-19 the literature is starting to emerge concerning general online teaching and learning perspectives during COVID-19 suggesting lessons learned in updating online pedagogy to meet the needs of students (Coman et al., 2020; Hofer et al., 2021; Pokhrel & Chhetri, 2021; Rippé et al., 2021).Luckily, much attention has been paid in recent years toward student and faculty use of technology in the public relations classroom, in building community (Curtin & Witherspoon, 2000; Fraustino et al., 2015; Janoske et al., 2019; Kinsky et al., 2016; Kruger-Ross & Waters, 2013; McKeever, 2019; Moore, 2014; Tatone et al., 2017; Weed et al., 2018;) and to online teaching and learning in general (Martin, Stamper et al., 2020 ; Martin, Sun et al., 2020; Nilson & Goodson, 2018) to supplement as the body of knowledge continues to grow post-COVID-19; however, the literature does more to point out the flaws in the online learning system than the solutions (Albrahim, 2020; Morreale et al., 2021; Richardson et al., 2020). The teaching of faculty on how to transition online seems to be one of those missteps as sometimes faculty are left to figure out how to teach online completely on their own (Callo & Yazon, 2020; Lowenthal et al., 2019; Paul & Jefferson, 2019).
Organizational Issues COVID-19 presented numerous communication challenges to organizations as the traditional in-person workplace moved to remote work. In times of crises, subordinates turn to leaders for information, which heightens demands for effective communication of critical decisions (van der Meer et al., 2017; van Zoonen & van der Meer, 2015) much like PRSSA advisers and members might look to PRSSA National for solutions. Organizational issues pre-COVID-19 are only exacerbated during COVID-19. Thus, engaging now in thoughtful deconstruction of pre-COVID-19 practices can create deliberate and practical organizational improvement, even whilst forced through severe ecological conditions which present as “crisis” or misfortune. There may be hope that these online tools can contribute to organizational engagement in times of uncertainty. When looking at natural disasters that result in a shift to online learning, one study showed that a university became more resilient in its online education after a crisis event (Ayebi-Arthur, 2017). However, proper tools including bandwidth, internet equity, and access to digital devices are key components in guaranteeing that students do not miss educational opportunities during such a crisis (Dhawan, 2020). Ensuring proper equity toward online learning can be important for not only the students involved but the health of the overall learning organization. According to Coombs and Holladay (1996), effectively communicating to an organization’s public is crucial to the reputational and financial health of any organization, regardless of industry. In this instance, ensuring that effective communication is maintained between all educational participants is crucial in sustaining an online learning environment.
Self-Determination Theory and Organization Management When broken down to its basic ideology, Self-Determination Theory (SDT) looks at the psychological pull of an individual toward personal growth and the effect external forces have on the motivation toward that growth (Deci, 1975; Ryan & Deci, 2000). Motivation is important to examine as it is the catalyst to get work done (Ryan & Deci, 2000). SDT considers motivation based on a person’s motivation at any given time, as opposed to adopting motivation as a unitary concept in people (Deci, 1975). As PRSSA is a student-run organization, organizational leaders do not have the common motivating factor of financial-based compensation for their work and must find their intrinsic motivations for participation. Filak and Pritchard (2007) established the application of SDT in the context of PRSSA in a study of chapter advisers and members, and found that when the needs for competence, autonomy, and relatedness were met through support from the faculty adviser, student members will more positively rate their chapter and adviser, and experience greater self-motivation to participate in the organization.
White (1959) and deCharms (1968) proposed that motivating behavior is based on competence and autonomy. That the link between the basic needs of people and their motivations is based on intrinsic and extrinsic motivations (Pritchard et al., 1977). Findings from Jang (2008) show the role that externally-provided rationales can play in helping students generate the motivation they need to engage in, and learn from, uninteresting but personally important material. That is critical to teaching and professional development in order to promote student motivation by promoting the value of the task, discover the experience’s hidden value, and communicate why it is personally useful to the participant. “Simply put, motivation is tantamount to a student’s ability to engage with the course information” (Ewing et al., 2019, p. 105). SDT research has been applied in pedagogy research to examine how needs are satisfied in face-to-face teaching and learning in relation to student motivation (Ahn et al., 2021; Davidson & Beck, 2019; Goldman et al., 2017; Lietaert et al., 2015; Pritchard et al., 1977; Roorda et al., 2011).
Competence, Autonomy, and Relatedness Ryan and Deci (2000) proposed three psychological needs that are required for individual psychological health and well-being: a) competence (seek to control the outcome of a task and experience task mastery), b) autonomy (the desire to be causal agents of one’s own life and act in harmony with one’s integrated self), and c) relatedness (the will to interact with, be connected to, and experience caring) (Deci, 1975). If competence is defined as self-efficacy, then the basic need for competence is the need of feeling knowledgeable about the environment in which one exists (White, 1959). In a structured organization, the need for competence is fostered by offering constructive feedback and showing organized progress through activities or projects (Martin et al., 2018). Autonomy can be viewed as the psychological need to experience the ownership of one’s actions (Chirkov, 2009). Therefore, true autonomy exists only when there is no control over individual actions in a given environment. Although true autonomy is not often possible in academic or work settings, autonomy support was shown more conducive to continued learning and personal success (Vansteenkiste et al., 2005), as well as self-determined motivation (Filak & Pritchard, 2007). Meaning, the more control that is put upon an individual in an environment, the less the need for autonomy is being met. When translated to an educational environment, autonomy can be supported through a self-paced environment with limited reward contingencies for participating (Martin et al., 2018). Relatedness directly corresponds with the need to feel like a part of one’s environment which relates to the innate human need for survival with others (van den Broeck et al., 2016). However, that need of relatedness does not require others to be physically present to be fulfilled and support motivation (Martin et al., 2018). Encouragement to participate or acknowledgement of involvement, even after the fact, can fulfill the need of relatedness.
The lack of fulfillment of those three basic psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness—will result in a decrease in the overall well-being of the individual (Ryan & Deci, 2000) and reduce the likelihood of further participation in the organization (Filak & Pritchard, 2007; Fisher et al., 2020). Alternatively, when an organization aids in fulfillment of these basic needs, participants tend to see an increase in well-being that is then reflected in increased motivations to succeed and continue personal growth (Ryan & Deci, 2000). Ryan & Deci (2000) found that conditions which enhanced perceptions of autonomy, competence, and relatedness positively affected self-determined motivation and sense of competence (Ryan & Deci, 2000; Deci et al., 1994). That is of significance for individuals who seek to motivate others in a way that gives way to vested interest, commitment, effort, and high-quality performance, much like pre-professional organizations would do (Deci et al., 2017). SDT argues that needs are innate but can be developed in a social context, much in the way student organizations integrate peer mentoring in a social context (Fisher et al., 2020).
Some people develop stronger needs than others, creating individual differences (Ryan & Deci, 2000). However, individual differences within the theory focus on concepts resulting from the degree to which needs have been satisfied or not satisfied (Pritchard et al., 1977). When participants experience growth, so does the organization. When the needs of the participants are fulfilled, the organization can then consider its own needs. Finally, of chief concern to SDT is the well-being of the individuals within the systems in which they participate. If the context in which participants are engaged in/with are responsive to those needs and provide the appropriate organizational structure in which participants can ascend without excessive control. Motivation and enhanced performance are what SDT would predict as participant engagement that can be sustained as a result (Kohn, 1990; Ryan & Deci, 2000).
While the body of knowledge in public relations pedagogy addresses unique challenges and innovations in online learning, that research does not address the complexity of a student organization such as PRSSA. PRSSA is more than a supplement to classroom learning. It is an experiential learning lab that provides student leaders with valuable organizational management skills at the university, regional, and international levels. This study adds to the existing literature by exploring issues of online organization management, through the lens of SDT, by exploring the following questions:
RQ1: What were the common chapter management practices of PRSSA chapters during COVID-19?
RQ2a: How do the common concerns of PRSSA e-board members regarding online programming affect perceptions of competency in chapter management?
RQ2b: What resources or tools are desired by PRSSA e-board members to facilitate perceptions of autonomy in chapter management?
RQ2c: What resources or tools are desired by PRSSA e-board members to foster relatedness with other organizations?
Method This study used an online questionnaire distributed to PRSSA executive board members who served in the spring semester of the 2019-2020 and Fall semester of the 2020-2021 academic years. Surveys have been previously used to study the perceptions of PRSSA members in realms of public relations curricula (Sparks & Conwell, 1998; Todd, 2009) and self-efficacy in public relations practice (Ranta et al., 2020). The timeline of this study began in the last half of August and ended in late September of 2020. Questions were asked in a way to capture data from respondents’ actual and anticipated policies regarding online classes and management of PRSSA chapters. The questionnaire was developed using Qualtrics software and distributed via a) emails to PRSSA faculty advisers and chapter presidents, b) private Facebook groups where faculty advisers were likely to be members, and c) social media posts that were directed to faculty advisers and PRSSA e-board members. Questionnaire protocols were approved by the respective institutional review boards of the authors.
Study Population The authors initially made a request with the PRSSA national office for a contact list of current PRSSA board members, but the request was denied due to proprietary rights. Next, the authors reviewed the PRSSA national chapter directory, which is publicly available through the PRSSA national website. Individual chapters are responsible for maintaining their directory listing, though it was unknown whether the contact information was current and accurate as no information was included with the chapter listing that indicated when it was last updated. While the PRSSA National Chapter Handbook (PRSSA, 2019) recommends a minimum of six executive board positions — president, vice president, secretary, treasurer, public relations director, and historian — the individual listing for PRSSA chapters from the national chapter directory often did not include contact information for all students who held those roles. In addition, it is unknown whether all PRSSA chapter e-boards included all positions recommended by the PRSSA national chapter handbook or if individual chapters had more e-board positions than were recommended.
Due to the above limitations, the authors developed an internal contact database of faculty advisers and chapter presidents, which were commonly included in the national directory listings for individual chapters. When faculty adviser and/or chapter president information was not available in the PRSSA chapter directory, the authors searched PRSSA chapter websites, chapter social media channels, and direct phone calls were made to university schools/departments that hosted PRSSA chapters. In total, 381 faculty advisers and 302 chapter presidents were identified at 370 U.S. university PRSSA chapters. Participants were recruited for the questionnaire through four distinct recruitment tactics implemented in August and September of 2020. First, the researchers sent two rounds of email invitations to PRSSA faculty advisers to share with their Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 e-board members. Second, the researchers sent an email invitation to PRSSA chapter presidents to share with their e-boards. Third, questionnaire invitations were posted on private Facebook groups such as PRSA Educators Academy, Student-Run Agency Advisers, and Faculty Advisers for PRSSA Chapters. In addition, researchers used directed tweets to promote the survey using the hashtag #PRSSA and tags for the accounts of PRSSA National, PRSA Educators Academy, and the AEJMC Public Relations Division. Finally, an email invitation was sent by the PRSSA national office to chapter presidents, and study promotion tweets were shared by the @PRSSANational account.
A qualifying question at the beginning of the questionnaire asked participants if they were an e-board member of their local PRSSA chapter in Spring 2020 or Fall 2020. In total, 208 respondents indicated they were a PRSSA e-board member. Those board members represented at least 69 PRSSA chapters located in all U.S. districts of PRSSA, for a response rate of 18.6% within chapters. As the authors were unable to access information that could determine the actual size of e-boards for all 370 U.S. university PRSSA chapters, an accurate response rate for the total population of e-board members could not be calculated.
Questionnaire Design The questionnaire included 40 items that measured five categories of information: a) general chapter information, b) completed and anticipated chapter programming practices for Spring and Fall 2020, c) areas of concern for PRSSA online programming, and d) resources used or desired for effective management of PRSSA online programming. Questions were developed with input from PRSSA faculty advisers who shared chapter management challenges that developed after many university campuses went to an online-only format during the Spring 2020 semester. No identifying information was collected, though respondents could opt-in for a $50 Amazon gift card drawing through a separate link using their university email addresses.
Online PRSSA Programming During COVID-19 Multiple-choice questions covered topics related to PRSSA chapter programming for Spring and Fall 2020 terms including: a) the quantity of Spring 2020 programming compared to Fall 2019, b) types of PRSSA online programming completed in Spring 2020 and planned to produce for Fall 2020. In addition, a unique question was added for the Spring 2020 e-board members to reflect on their PRSSA chapter’s effectiveness of online programming by providing a letter grade assessment.
Areas of Concern for Online PRSSA Programming Participants identified up to 10 chapter management areas in which the respondent would want more resources and/or training. Three Likert scale questions asked the respondent’s level of confidence in meeting common chapter goals. Eight open-ended questions gained further insights about the respondent’s perception of how online programming would impact various aspects of PRSSA chapter management. Open-ended questions were surveyed for recurring key terms that were ranked by frequency of use.
Desired Resources for PRSSA Online Programming Five Likert-scale questions assessed respondents’ level of agreement with statements related to how specific individuals or organizations—faculty adviser, university offices, school or department offices, PRSSA national leadership, and the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) sponsor chapter—understood what their PRSSA chapter needed to successfully implement online programs. Three open-ended questions asked what support services the respondent’s PRSSA chapter needed from a) their university, b) their faculty and professional advisers, and c) PRSSA national leadership. Open-ended questions were surveyed for recurring related key terms that were ranked by frequency of use. For example, the key term “Zoom burnout” also included “Zoom fatigue,” which was classified under the umbrella term of “Zoom burnout.”
Respondent Demographics The vast majority of the study population identified as female at 80.3% (n = 171), 8.0% (n = 17) identified as male, and the remaining 11.7% (n = 25) declined to answer. Of the respondents, 128 identified as e-board members in Spring 2020 and 156 in Fall 2020. Respondents represented Spring 2020 and Fall 2020 e-board positions which were noted as required in the PRSSA Chapter Handbook (PRSSA, 2020) including presidents at 33.8% (n = 96), vice presidents at 13.0% (n = 37), secretaries at 3.9% (n = 11), treasurers at 5.3% (n = 22), PR directors at 8.5% (n = 24), and one historian. The remaining respondents represented other board positions that were unique to individual chapters but included leadership roles related to membership, events, and communication. Twenty-three respondents declined to provide their e-board position for Spring 2020, and 42 respondents declined for Fall 2020. Respondents included recent graduates and e-board members whose roles might have changed from Spring to Fall of 2020.
At the chapter level, 184 respondents identified the size of their PRSSA chapter, with 22.8% (n = 42) representing micro-chapters of one to nine members, 48.4% (n = 89) for small chapters of 10 to 49 members, 15.8% (n = 29) for mid-size chapters of 50-99 members and the remaining 13.0% (n = 24) represented large chapters of more than 100 members. Respondents represented all ten (PRSA U.S. districts (PRSA, n.d.) (see Figure 1).
Respondents by PRSA District
PRSSA Online Programming Trends During COVID-19
Adoption of Online Modality Among PRSSA e-board members for Spring 2020 (n = 128), 92.2% (n = 11) indicated that their university moved to an online-only format, 7.8% (n = 10) remained with a face-to-face campus. Among PRSSA e-board members in Fall 2020 (n = 156), 39.8% (n = 62) indicated that their university classes were, or were scheduled to be, online-only for some of the fall term, while 30.2% (n = 47) would be face-to-face for all the fall term, and 23.7% (n = 37) would be online-only for all of the fall term. In a twist, 3.8% (n = 6) began the fall term as face-to-face but had to shift to online-only due to COVID surges in their geographic region after the term began. Fifty respondents (32.0%) declined to answer the question, which might be related to the uncertainty of campus openings at the time the survey was administered (see Figure 2).
The modality of university classes did not mirror an alignment with PRSSA chapter modality. While survey responses indicated a reduction of online-only campuses from Spring to Fall 2020, the quantity of respondents who indicated their PRSSA chapter would be online-only increased from 59.3% in spring to 70.0% in fall. Respondents who indicated their chapter would host only face-to-face meetings remained consistently small at less than 2.0% of responses. There was a dramatic increase in a combination of online and face-to-face programming from less than 1.0% in Spring 2020 to 23.7% in Fall 2020.
Modality of PRSSA Chapter Management between Spring and Fall 2020 Terms
Content. When comparing the frequency of meetings for chapters that moved online in Spring 2020 to the previous fall semester, 91.4% (n = 57) of respondents indicated the chapter had less programming, with 40.0% (n = 28) reporting significantly less programs in Spring 2020 over fall 2019. For respondents whose chapters produced online programs in Spring 2020, chapter updates were most frequent (n = 40), followed by industry guest speakers (n = 29), and member presentations (n = 25). In Fall 2020, respondents indicated their chapter was likely to produce a variety of programming including industry guest speakers (n = 129), chapter updates (n = 91), skills training (n = 88), networking events (n = 86), member-led presentations (n = 82), faculty guest speakers (n = 69), and social events (n = 68). Thirteen respondents (8.3%) indicated other types of programming including collaborative events with other PRSSA chapters (n = 4), podcasts (n = 2), fundraising events (n = 2), and client projects (n = 2). Ten respondents (6.4%) did not know what types of online programming their chapter was planning (see Figure 3).
Comparison of PRSSA Online Programming Between Spring 2020 and Fall 2020
Communication applications. By far, the most common online application used for PRSSA online programming in both Spring and Fall 2020 was Zoom. In Fall 2020, responses indicated an increased use of other communication applications including GroupMe, Slack, Instagram video, and Twitter chats (see Figure 4).
Online Communication Applications Used by PRSSA Chapters Between Spring and Fall 2020
Perceived Competency in PRSSA Online Chapter Management Respondents whose chapters continued to meet after their university went to an online-only format in Spring 2020 (n = 72) were asked what letter grade they would give their chapter’s online programming. The greatest percentage of respondents gave their chapter a “C” (n = 26), followed by a “B” (n = 24). “A” (n = 18), “D,” (n = 4) and “F,” and 7.1% (n = 1) (see Figure 5).
What grade would you give your PRSSA chapter for its online programs in Spring 2020?
Production of Online Programming Moving to Fall 2020, respondents answered a Likert scale item that indicated their level of confidence (from 1 = very unconfident to 5 = very confident) in producing PRSSA online programming. Respondents expressed confidence (M = 4.21, SD = .963) in producing online programming, which was further supported by the reports that their PRSSA chapters were planning a wider variety of programs for the Fall 2020 than in the previous spring. Yet, responses to additional questions about Fall 2020 PRSSA chapter management revealed common concerns.
Membership PRSSA e-board members in Fall 2020 expressed multiple concerns about online chapter management. Respondents (n = 148) were asked to rate their level of confidence (from 1 = very unconfident to 5 = very confident) in their chapter’s ability to renew existing dues-paid members and recruit new dues-paid members. Respondents expressed the least confidence in recruiting new PRSSA members in Fall 2020 (M = 3.33, SD = 1.227) but slightly increased confidence in renewing existing members (M = 3.54, SD = 1.128). A one-way ANOVA found no significant difference between the size of the respondent’s PRSSA chapter and level of confidence in recruiting new or renewing existing members.
A small positive correlation was found between chapter size and the respondent’s confidence level in producing online programs, r(147) = .199, p < .05, as well as the ability to renew existing dues-paid members, r(147) = .175, p < .05. A large positive correlation was found between the respondent’s confidence in their chapter’s ability to produce online programs and recruiting new members, r(147) = .565, p < .001, and renewing existing members, r(147) = .599, p < .001 (see Table 1).
Correlations between Chapter Size, Confidence in Producing Online Programming, and Ability to Recruit/Renew Members
** Correlation is significant at the .01 level
* Correlation is significant at the .05 level
Perception of how Online Programming Helps or Hurts PRSSA Chapters A series of open-ended questions asked respondents who were Fall 2020 PRSSA e-board members whether they felt online programming would only help, only hurt, or a combination of help and hurt, their chapter in: a) new member recruitment, b) member retention, c) chapter engagement, and d) scheduling of guest speakers.
Membership. Regarding recruiting new members, of the total respondents (n = 150) most (n = 84) felt that online programming would only hurt recruitment of new members. In terms of retaining existing PRSSA members, respondents (n = 116) were nearly split between those who felt that online programming would help membership retention (n = 52) and those who felt online programming would only hurt retention (n = 48). Convenience of attending online programming was the most identified benefit to help retention (n = 12) and “Zoom burnout” was the most identified limitation to hurt retention (n = 9).
Dues Value. Of respondents (n = 134) who answered an open-ended question that addressed whether they believed online programming would affect the perception of dues value, more than two-thirds indicated a negative impact of the perceived value of the dues cost among PRSSA members, even though 12.7% (n = 17) of respondents noted their chapter members would receive a dues discount either for PRSSA national dues and/or local chapter dues. Common issues respondents noted that would negatively impact the perception of dues values were the lack of in-person programming (n = 31) and unique financial hardships students experienced due to COVID-19 (n = 5).
Meeting Attendance.Respondents (n = 151) answered an open-ended question about whether they felt online programming would help or hurt meeting attendance. Of the total respondents (n = 151) to the open-ended question, the greatest number (n = 62) felt online programming would only help meeting attendance, but others (n = 45) only felt online programming would hurt. As with dues value, respondents most commonly noted convenience as a benefit for online meeting attendance (n = 34) along with the ability to record meetings for asynchronous viewing (n = 18). “Zoom burnout” was also repeated as a limitation that could hurt meeting attendance (n = 18).
Scheduling Guest Speakers. Of the respondents (n = 145) who answered an open-ended question about whether online programming would help or hurt scheduling guest speakers, more than three-quarters of respondents (n = 111) felt it would help, with lack of travel requirements for speakers being the greatest benefit (n = 66). Only a handful of respondents (n = 9) indicated that online programming would hurt their chapter’s ability to schedule guest speakers (see Figure 6).
Perceptions of Whether Online Programming Helps or Hurts PRSSA Chapter Management
What Online Programming Resources Do PRSSA Chapters Need to Achieve Autonomy? Respondents were asked to identify specific online programming training or resources they wanted. Respondents (n = 149) most commonly identified membership recruitment and retention resources (n = 110), followed by collaboration with other PRSSA chapters (n = 81), and fundraising (n = 70) (see Figure 7).
Online Training or Resources that PRSSA E-board Members Want
A one-way ANOVA found a significant difference between chapter size and the need for training or resources related to scheduling guest speakers [F(6,148) = 2.442, p = .029]. Among the various chapter sizes, 36.8% (n = 50) of respondents from chapters with less than 100 members (n = 138) indicated they desired that training, while only 10.5% (n = 2) of respondents from chapters with 100 or more members (n = 19) requested the same. It is important to note that respondents of chapters with 10-19 members (n = 30) expressed the greatest need for that training at 53.3% (n = 16). No significant difference was found between the board position respondents held and the type of online training or resources which were desired.
There was a moderate negative correlation between chapter size and the need for assistance in scheduling guest speakers, r(154) = -.183, p < .001. Further analysis was conducted to determine if receiving assistance from specific individuals or organizations correlated with a desire for specific types of training or resources. Positive correlations were found between the chapter receiving online programming assistance from the faculty adviser, r(148) = .197, p < .05, professional adviser, r(148) = .224, p < .001, and desire for more information about membership recruitment/retention. Assistance from PRSSA chapters at different universities was positively correlated with the desire for more information about membership recruitment/retention, r(148) = .186, p < .05, communication with chapter members, r(148) = .166, p < .05, and service projects, r(148) = .181, p < .05. Assistance from university offices was positively correlated with the desire for more information about collaborating with PRSSA chapters at different universities, r(148) = .169, p < .05.
Open-ended questions continued the explorations of what online training or resources respondents wanted. Three questions asked what support services respondents needed to successfully produce online chapter programming from a) their university, b) PRSSA national leadership, and c) their faculty and/or professional advisers. From the university, respondents (n = 132) most needed a) the promotion of their chapter and its events (n = 22), b) technical support such as accessing online meeting tools or “stronger wifi access” (n = 25), and c) general support such as communication student organization offices, how to collaborate with other organizations, and encouragement from faculty (n = 39). From PRSSA national leadership, respondents (n = 122) most needed a) meeting planning support such as a content library and national speakers directory (n = 13), b) training for online chapter management such as webinars and best practices from other chapters (n = 36), c) communication such as individual chapter check-ins, a calendar of upcoming national events, and general chapter information (n = 39). From faculty and/or professional advisers, respondents (n = 122) most commonly indicated that they were satisfied with their adviser’s support (n = 35), but others identified specific items such as general support like encouragement and advocating for the chapter (n = 31), assistance with scheduling guest speakers (n = 28), and tips for building member engagement in an online environment (n = 7).
Relatedness with Chapter Support Resources When examining which organizations or individuals that respondents identified as a chapter resource for online programming in Spring (n = 137) and Fall 2020 (n = 141), faculty advisers were the most identified resource. While many chapters lacked guidance from other university resources such as university offices (student affairs, student government, or student organization offices) or school/department offices in Spring 2020, there were small improvements in those resources providing guidance to PRSSA chapters in Fall 2020. Organizational resources such as professional advisors, PRSSA national leadership, and PRSA sponsor chapters were identified by slightly more respondents for Fall 2020, but those remained unidentified by at least two-thirds of respondents. One organizational resource that gained a considerable increase in recognition was other PRSSA chapters, which grew from a resource identified by only 4.3% of respondents for Spring 2020, to 23.5% of respondents for Fall 2020 (see Figure 8).
Comparison of Individuals/Organizations that Provided Online Program Guidance Between Spring 2020 and Fall 2020
Respondents were asked a series of Likert scale questions to indicate their level of agreement (1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree) with statements related to how specific individuals or organizations understood their chapter’s needs in developing online programming. Respondents most strongly agreed that their faculty adviser understood the chapter’s needs (M = 4.48, SD = 1.125), followed by PRSSA national leadership (M = 3.90, SD = 1.267), school or department offices (M = 3.72, SD = 1.262), PRSA sponsor chapters (M = 3.53, SD = 1.308), and university offices (M = 3.30, SD = 1.328). The large standard deviations indicated a mixed experience among respondents, which was further explored. A one-way MANOVA found no significant difference between the respondent’s chapter size and the level of agreement that specific individuals or organizations understood their chapter’s online programming needs. An additional one-way MANOVA found no significant difference between respondents’ Fall 2020 e-board position and the level of agreement that specific individuals or organizations understood their chapter’s online programming needs. There was a moderate correlation between respondents receiving assistance from their faculty adviser and their level of agreement that the adviser understood their chapter needs, r(148) = .395, p <. 001, but weaker correlations were found for university offices, r(148) = .257, p < .001, PRSSA national leadership, r(148) = .203, p < .05, and the PRSA sponsor chapter, r(148) = .178, p < .05. There was no correlation for the school/department. There were also moderate positive correlations between respondent’s level of agreement that their faculty adviser understood what their chapter needed to successfully implement online programming and other organizations understanding the same needs (see Table 2).
Correlations between Perceptions the Faculty Adviser and Other Resource Organizations Understood What the PRSSA Chapter Needs to Successfully Implement Online Programming
** Correlation is significant at the .01 level
A small positive correlation was found between chapter size and receiving online programming assistance from the school/department, r(147) = .302, p < .001, but no other correlations existed between chapter size and receiving assistance from other individuals or organizations.
Moving from Reactive to Proactive Online Programming Practices The results of this study found that most PRSSA chapters were ill-equipped to handle the quick transition to an online-only modality. More than one-third of respondents noted their chapter did not meet after the university moved to an online-only modality. Of those chapters that did make a transition to online programming, more than 90% shared that they produced less programming in Spring 2020 in comparison to the previous Fall, and that programming was most often in the form of chapter news and updates rather than content related to the three pillars of PRSSA—enhancing education, building networks, and launching careers.
While the integration of online programming was initiated by most PRSSA chapters as a response to universities transitioning to online-only campuses during the COVID-19 pandemic, these practices hold long-term value to create more inclusive programming and identify new strategies that enhance member recruitment. The traditional tactics of in-person PRSSA chapter programming and membership recruitment tactics limit outreach opportunities to students who fit a non-traditional mold such as online learners, continuing education students, commuters, and graduate students.
Through the application of Self-Determination Theory, which was previously applied to PRSSA management by Filak & Pritchard (2007), the authors identified how competence, autonomy, and relatedness are urgent needs that need to be addressed to support PRSSA e-board members through the uncharted territory of online program management. The following recommendations address the current needs of PRSSA chapters and provide a blueprint to elevate chapter practices that address the evolving nature of higher education and the public relations industry.
Enhance Competency Respondents’ self-assessment of their chapter’s online programming for Spring 2020 revealed that more than two-thirds of respondents gave their chapter either a “C” (34.3%) or “B” (28.6%). Membership recruitment and retention were, by far, the most pressing concern of PRSSA e-board members. There was a concern regarding the recruitment of new members especially when student outreach opportunities, such as student fairs, were limited. Though slightly greater confidence was expressed in retaining existing members, qualitative responses indicated concerns about the lack of personal connection with members and fighting “Zoom fatigue.” As a respondent shared,
I think that in general, online programs will hurt recruiting and retaining of chapter members for students to really learn with a human touch face-to-face. Coming from my own experience, being at the chapter’s events helped me network and talk with guest professionals to learn more of the secrets of the trade. I think with having online programs, the motivation from members won’t be as enthusiastic about, says a Microsoft Teams meeting with an industry professional to attend.
In addition, respondents were also concerned about the dues cost, even when considering a limited-time 25% discount on national dues and some chapters reducing or eliminating their local dues. Another respondent stated,
I think it’s great that Nationals dropped the price, however, $41 is still a lot of money for a college student. That could pay for two weeks of groceries. So, with programs being all online and most other clubs waiving fees, I think it will be much more difficult to convince members that they will get their money’s worth.
Concern was expressed that prospective members would not see the return on investment of their dues cost because many programs that were selling points of the organization—face-to-face networking, agency tours, attending national and/or regional events—were not an option for Fall 2020.
A negative perception of online programming was evident among respondents, especially in regard to new member recruitment and engagement. More than 56% of respondents felt that online programming would hurt new member recruitment, even though nearly 90% of respondents expressed confidence in their chapter’s ability to produce online programming. Martin, Sun, & Westine (2020) suggest that perception might be linked to existing attitudes related to participation in online courses or feelings of anxiety related to uncertainty working within a new communication modality (Hilliard et al., 2020). A respondent shared,
Online programs, in my experience so far, split a group into attentive vs uninterested members. The members who didn’t pay as much attention or didn’t get as involved as others are dropping away and the members who were working hard are continuing to grow. I’d say that this online format is really showing who is serious about PRSSA and their profession.
PRSSA e-board members noted concern about limited opportunities to promote their chapters in an online environment. As opportunities for face-to-face connections—student organization fairs, “tabling,” in-class presentations, or casual conversations—were noted by respondents as being reduced, or eliminated, it is crucial that PRSSA chapters receive assistance from faculty and administration to advocate for the organization with prospective students. As the results of this study found that there was a negative correlation between chapter size and whether the chapter received assistance from its school or department, it is essential that smaller chapters receive outreach assistance to promote PRSSA, especially among underclassmen. These results were reflected in a respondent’s comment,
In order to successfully produce online programs for my PRSSA chapter, we will need support services such as technology services, faculty help, and help from our school to reach out to as many students as possible.
Based on the feedback provided by PRSSA e-board members in this study, the authors make two recommendations to build competence in online chapter management. First, enhanced training is needed to address unique issues identified by respondents including a) member recruitment, b) fundraising, and c) service projects. Training initiatives can be made available as live webinars to solicit real-time questions from chapter leaders, but also should be recorded for on-demand viewing as needed. Primarily, training sessions should be produced by PRSSA national leadership as they are in the best position to understand the unique challenges and needs of chapters. Initiatives should be produced with the assistance and guidance of PRSA to ensure comprehensive and best practices are disseminated to PRSSA chapter leaders.
Second, PRSSA national leadership should engage in strategic partnerships with organizations that offer specialized training in online communication to make those resources available to chapter leaders. Organizational programs such as the HubSpot Education Partner Program (HubSpot, n.d.), Hootsuite Student Program (Hootsuite, n.d.), and Facebook Educators Portal (Facebook, n.d.) already produce student-oriented training modules and/support services related to online communication. Those resources could be linked on the PRSSA national website and promoted through chapter communication. Access to the resources provided by those organizations will provide resources for chapters to effectively plan, implement, and evaluate diverse online communication tactics that follow best practice standards.
Empower Autonomy Self-Determination Theory defines autonomy as the psychological need to experience the ownership of one’s actions (Chirkov, 2009). By providing access to additional tools and resources, PRSSA e-board members can take ownership of developing their own skills related to online program management, identifying relevant subject-matter experts in the field of public relations, and integrating pre-packaged content that best serves the members’ educational and professional development needs.
PRSSA e-board members recognized the benefits of online programming in regard to meeting attendance. Respondents noted that online programming could help meeting attendance by offering a level of convenience for members who could participate live from home or watch meetings on their own schedule when the meetings are recorded, as a respondent shared,
I hope that they increase the meeting attendance. Prior to going to an online format, I spoke to various members to find out what I can do to increase meeting attendance. A large majority of our dues paying members are commuter students who would not travel to school for the sole purpose of the meeting. I think the online programs will help with attendance along with the new format I plan to implement at meetings.
One concern was “Zoom fatigue” members might experience, especially when classes are taught solely in the online modality. This points to a greater need for training resources that will teach PRSSA board members about the best practices of online event planning that facilitate strong audience engagement.
Respondents were most enthusiastic about the opportunity to schedule guest speakers. Many noted the convenience for guests since they did not need to travel to campus and expressed optimism for improving their chapter’s ability to schedule speakers in comparison to in-person meetings. Respondents were especially excited at the prospect of scheduling guest speakers from across the U.S. instead of focusing on recruiting guests who were within physical proximity to their university campus.
We have had no problem scheduling speakers and have even had an easier time as we have been able to bring more speakers in from all over the industry as well as the country. The flexibility has increased speakers’ willingness to agree to speak as well as the ease of simply hopping onto a Zoom call rather than necessarily having to travel to the school.
A small number of respondents did express concern with scheduling guest speakers because they would be too busy.
PRSSA national leadership should coordinate with PRSA to develop a nationwide PRSSA speakers directory that is available on a password-protected page of the PRSSA national website. Through collaboration with the PRSA national office, members may indicate their interest in new membership or renewal documentation as to whether they would like to be included in a PRSSA speakers directory. The directory can be a valuable resource for smaller PRSSA chapters, or chapters in rural locations, that might have difficulty with identifying appropriate guest speakers. If a PRSA member indicates interest in being added to a PRSSA speaker directory, a follow-up questionnaire can be distributed to collect additional information such as: a) what company the speaker works for, b) how long they have worked in the PR industry, c) what industry do they specialize in (i.e. healthcare, nonprofit, food/beverage), d) areas of expertise (i.e. crisis communication, media relations, diversity & inclusion), e) how the speaker would like to meet with chapters (i.e. online or in-person), and f) demographic questions to ensure a diverse representation of speakers. The speaker directory can be updated through an opt-in selection in the PRSA new member or membership renewal process.
In addition to assistance with scheduling guest speakers, PRSSA chapters, especially small chapters, need access to other programming content for member meetings. Pre-packaged content developed specifically for PRSSA members, such as interviews with industry professionals and skills training learning modules should be available on-demand in a digital library that is available on the PRSSA website. That will not only provide content for chapters that are struggling during COVID-19 but serve chapters well into the future to increase the perceived value of dues and, in turn, increase membership.
Foster Relatedness Faculty advisers were consistent sources of guidance to PRSSA e-board members, as identified by nearly 83% of respondents for Spring 2020. In contrast, other organizations were far less consistent in providing support services to guide chapter leadership in developing online programs. University offices were identified by 27% of respondents and PRSSA national leadership trailed far further at less than 13%. A respondent shared,
I’ve been in PRSSA for seven semesters now. I was also the National Committee Liaison. I felt in all of the roles I’ve been in a lack of support from PRSSA National. Other than the national conference, we don’t get opportunities to interact with National other than when we are constantly reaching out ourselves. I think the biggest way national can support us is getting in touch with us first and setting up monthly (if not weekly) check-ins.
This lack of organizational communication, from the university and PRSSA, likely limited access to valuable information and resources that would have allowed PRSSA chapter leaders to effectively and efficiently transition to an online format. PRSSA chapter e-board members also indicated a need for general support from their universities and PRSSA national leadership including: a) more information related to managing their chapter in an online format and b) regular check-ins by university faculty/staff and PRSSA national leadership to address any emerging needs and to provide much-needed encouragement.
PRSSA e-board members noted concern about limited opportunities to promote their chapters to the campus community in an online environment. During COVID-19, respondents commonly noted traditional means of new member outreach — student organization fairs, “tabling,” in-class presentations, or casual conversations — as being reduced, or eliminated. As the results of this study found that there was a negative correlation between chapter size and whether the chapter received online programming assistance from its school or department, it is essential that smaller chapters receive online outreach assistance, especially among nontraditional or commuter students who might not be able to attend in-person events. That type of assistance holds potential to not only benefit increased membership in PRSSA, but to recruit prospective majors to the school or department.
Since more than 95% of respondents indicated their PRSSA chapter would continue with online programming in Fall 2020, it is critical that chapters receive consistent and comprehensive training resources to guide their program planning. Small improvements have been made by university offices and the PRSSA organization to enhance communication and training related to online programming for Fall 2020, but research results point to a continued need for stronger efforts from both organizations. At the time of this survey in the early part of the Fall 2020 term, only 43% of respondents stated they were receiving guidance from university offices, and PRSSA national leadership lagged further behind by only providing guidance to less than 30% of respondents. At the same time, the number of respondents who received guidance from other PRSSA chapters grew dramatically from 4.3% in Spring to 23.5% in Fall 2020, suggesting that chapter leaders were turning to each other as peer support for information and solutions when communication lacked from university and organization resources.
More than 50% of respondents indicated a desire to collaborate with PRSSA chapters at other universities, and nearly 25% had already reached out to other chapters during the Fall 2020 semester. Those respondents indicate a growing desire for inter-chapter networking and/or cross-chapter collaborations. Such initiatives build a productive network to share the load of programming and create a greater sense of community. Examples of those collaborations include PRSSA Reimagined, a partnership of six PRSSA chapters across the U.S. Each chapter committed to producing one event during Fall 2020 that was open to all PRSSA members. The Georgia PRSSA E-board Meetup, hosted by Kennesaw State University, invited chapter leaders to network and collaborate on finding solutions to common chapter issues related to online programming. Other PRSSA chapters, such as Ohio University, West Virginia University, and SUNY Oswego, opened guest speaker events to all PRSSA members. To further facilitate inter-chapter collaborations, PRSSA national leadership needs to ensure that the PRSSA chapter directory, available on the PRSSA national website, is up to date with current leaders and chapter contact information. As part of this study, the authors attempted to access PRSSA chapter e-board leaders through the chapter directory and discovered more than 30% of chapter listings were either outdated or incomplete. By educating chapter leaders and faculty advisers on how to update their chapter’s directory listing, they can ensure their chapter information is current, correct, and complete. PRSSA chapters could indicate in their chapter directory listing whether they would like to collaborate with other PRSSA chapters.
Limitations and Directions for Future Study This study provides a detailed snapshot of current PRSSA chapter management issues during COVID-19, but the situation remains in a state of flux and the long-term effects are yet to be known. While the authors were able to examine actual practices of online programs for the Spring 2020 term, only anticipated programming practices were collected for Fall 2020. In addition, there was a large percentage of female participants in this study. No demographic information could be found about the ratio of male, female, or nonbinary PRSSA executive board members to determine if the study sample was representative of the total population, though gender representation does appear to be reflective of the public relations industry (Dubrowski et al., 2019). To provide a broader picture of study results, future research will pursue a longitudinal perspective by conducting follow-up surveys of PRSSA e-board members as COVID-19 continues to impact universities to determine if current findings remain stable over time.
Conclusion While the vision of a more collaborative PRSSA is aspirational, it is by no means impractical. The new strategies and tactics related to online programming that result from this study hold promise to strengthen the technological business aptitude of students, allow for increased networking and mentorship access to professionals from across the globe, and improve chapter recruitment and retention outcomes through diverse communication modalities and strategies.
During times of uncertainty, organizational management practices are put to the test. The cracks and flaws that have gone unnoticed in times of smooth sailing can no longer be ignored when navigating stormy seas. The research findings provide evidence that PRSSA national leadership, the PRSA organization, and university departments can seize the opportunities to address organizational challenges highlighted by the COVID-19 pandemic response to pursue new training and support initiatives for PRSSA chapters. By embracing innovations, PRSSA chapters will emerge from the storm stronger and more resilient.
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Editorial Record: Original draft submitted June 2, 2020. Revisions submitted September 11, 2020. Accepted October 31, 2020. First published online December 2021.
Amanda J. Weed, Ph.D. Assistant Professor, Digital and Emerging Media School of Communication & Media Kennesaw State University Kennesaw, GA Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Adrienne A. Wallace, Ph.D. Associate Professor School of Communications Grand Valley State University Allendale, MI, Email: email@example.com
Betsy Emmons, Ph.D. Associate Professor Howard College of Arts and Sciences Samford University Birmingham, AL Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Kate Keib, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Communication Studies Oglethorpe University Brookhaven, GA Email: email@example.com
PRSSA faculty advisers play a critical role in public relations education by facilitating experiential learning and professional networking that connect classroom learning with the practical application of knowledge, skills, and understanding of the public relations industry. Yet, many faculty advisers feel overworked, misunderstood, under-appreciated in their role. A two-wave survey of current PRSSA faculty advisers examined the shared challenges that impact personal and professional satisfaction through the lens of Self-Determination Theory. Organizational recommendations provide new directions for national PRSSA programs that promote CARE for faculty advisers in the areas of competence, autonomy, relatedness, and equity.
Keywords: faculty adviser, student organization, tenure, promotion, pedagogy, equity, self-determination theory, Public Relations Student Society of America, PRSSA
Undergraduate public relations students benefit from direct professional networking and industry introduction. One way to provide this industry exposure is via pre-professional societies such as the Public Relations Student Society of America (PRSSA). PRSSA supplements the traditional public relations curriculum by providing student members with enhanced learning and networking opportunities. Faculty advisers of PRSSA assume an advanced teaching and mentoring role in this organization by connecting students with unique experiences that link classroom learning to practical application of knowledge and skills in the public relations industry.
As the Commission on Public Relations Education’s 2018 report on public relations education noted, pre-professional organizations “prepare students for their careers by providing an introduction to and understanding of the profession, as well as offering experiential learning and networking with other practitioners (p.133). Membership in university pre-professional organizations have been studied as critical links between classroom instruction and entry into the profession (Pohl & Butler, 1994), and department and faculty support of those organizations is directly related to the beneficial outcomes to students (Nadler, 1997).
Faculty advising duties of student organizations can vary among different organizations and/or campuses, a university-level disconnect might emerge between the service expectations of PRSSA advisers versus other student organizations such as a department honor society. Administrators often lump all student organization service efforts into similar labor expectations (Nadler, 1997). However, PRSSA is often a more labor-intensive service load than other organizations, an issue of which administrators and tenure committees are often unaware (Waymer, 2014). Faculty must sometimes choose between time-consuming efforts of sustaining a PRSSA chapter or engaging in teaching or research activities that hold greater weight in the tenure-and-promotion process. While some PRSSA faculty advisers do receive strong support from university administration, other advisers are faced with a hard choice between chapter success or career success. This research addresses the lived experiences of the PRSSA faculty adviser, investigates the gap in knowledge surrounding advising perspectives, and seeks to draw awareness to the key issues that impact the personal and professional satisfaction of PRSSA faculty advisers.
PRSSA and Benefits of Pre-Professional Association Membership Started as an affiliate organization of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) in 1967, PRSSA now has 370 chapters internationally located at universities of all sizes. PRSSA exists to support students studying the field of public relations and communication and reports a membership of more than 10,000 students and advisors throughout the United States and its territories, as well as in Argentina, Columbia, and Peru (PRSSA, n.d.-c). More than 375 faculty advisers, including co-advisers, now serve university PRSSA chapters.
The PRSSA national chapter handbook (PRSSA, n.d.-c) states that a faculty adviser must be “a full-time teacher of at least one of the public relations courses offered (p. 12).” The specific duties of a typical PRSSA faculty adviser are explained in the national chapter handbook in 11 articulated areas, which include mentorship, liaison duties to various constituencies, and communication duties (PRSSA, n.d.-c). However, specific day-to-day duties, such as writing PRSSA student scholarship recommendation letters, chapter communication, and clerical duties, are not articulated in the handbook.
PRSSA chapters organize activities on- and off-campus to satisfy the national chapter requirements and serve the interests of members (PRSSA, 2017). Many chapters focus on networking activities, experiential learning, and participation in PRSSA-sponsored awards programs (Andrews, 2007). Students may also attend PRSA professional meetings and attend regional PRSA conferences. Nationwide competitions, such as the Bateman Case Study Competition, are sponsored by the PRSSA national organization. PRSSA members benefit from professional networking, educational opportunities, resume building, and monetary awards from scholarships.
The PRSSA national office sponsors several types of chapter activities including community service, PRSA outreach, diversity and inclusion initiatives, national/regional event conferences, student-run firms, as well as scholarship and award competitions (PRSSA, n.d.-d). Participating in those activities can qualify chapters for awards such as PRSSA Star Chapter or the Dr. F. H. Teahan Chapter Awards Program. The PRSA Foundation offers educational and conference scholarships to members (PRSA Foundation, n.d.).
Previous PRSSA research has studied how satisfied students are with their PRSSA membership (Andrews, 2007), what students gain from membership (Pohl & Butler, 1994) and how PRSSA prepares students for careers in PR (Andrews, 2007; Sparks & Conwell, 1998). In a survey of students enrolled in PRSSA chapters in Ohio, Andrews (2007) found that PRSSA member students reported joining the organization to: 1) network, 2) build their resume, 3) learn career-related skills, and 4) gain hands-on experience.
Defining Faculty and Faculty Service PRSSA requires faculty advisers to be full-time faculty members. The definition of a full-time faculty member varies, however, based on the type of contract under which a faculty member is hired. Tenure-track faculty often hold a Ph.D. and are expected to pursue an active research agenda. Professors-of-practice and non-tenure lecturers are often hired to capitalize on the industry knowledge that public relations executives bring to the classroom and allow an avenue for executives to transition to higher education. Prior research has identified public relations executive knowledge as a great benefit to students (Todd, 2009), both as tenure and non-tenure faculty.
Most full-time faculty must complete university service in addition to teaching and/or research. Carnegie-classified R1 universities generally place a strong emphasis on producing research and grant funding for tenure and tenure-track faculty, and service expectations are less robust than at more teaching-centric universities. As Boyer (1991) asserted, tenure-track faculty must often limit student-centric pursuits to meet research needs. Each university defines its own tenure guidelines, but research production often takes priority over service for tenure-track faculty at most universities. Non-tenured faculty may not have research requirements, and that is often supplemented through an increased teaching and/or service expectation.
Fostering Role Satisfaction through Self-Determination Theory Self-determination theory (SDT) explores the psychological motivations of organization members to work toward common goals. SDT has been applied in the context of student participation in university organizations (Filak & Sheldon, 2003) and faculty advisers’ perceived performance in their role (Filak & Pritchard, 2007). At the core of SDT is the human desire to satisfy three psychological needs—competence, autonomy, and relatedness—to feel valued as a group member and commit individual efforts to group outcomes (Ryan et al., 1996). Competence represents the need to feel capable to effectively navigate the environment and make successful steps for improvement (Filak & Pritchard, 2007). In the context of PRSSA advising, competence might relate to issues of sufficient training, constructive feedback from peers, and positive support from department administration. Relatedness represents the need to feel connection with others who hold importance to the organization or task-at-hand (Ryan et al., 1995). Autonomy represents the need to function under personal power without the influence of external control (Deci & Ryan, 2013). PRSSA faculty advisers can perceive autonomy in a two-fold manner through the sense that a) they came to their role out of personal desire, and b) they have independence to advise the organization without unreasonable oversight. PRSSA faculty advisers are likely to feel relatedness to three distinct groups: a) members of the PRSSA chapter, b) peer faculty members, and c) department administration.
In addition to identifying need satisfaction, SDT also categorizes different types of motivations along a spectrum from extrinsic-to-intrinsic. As the least self-determined motivation, extrinsic motivations are those that satisfy needs from external sources, and are often not in line with the individual. Introjected motivation occurs when the individual accepts extrinsic motivation due to emotional influence exerted by an external source. Those emotional influences might come into play through the application of guilt (“we need you”), loyalty (“be a team player”), or status tactics (“pay your dues”). Introjected motivations do not necessarily increase commitment to tasks, but are effective through appealing to an individual’s perception of relatedness with those who are in power positions. Identified motivation occurs when one values the outcomes of their actions but gains little enjoyment or fulfillment from the activity. For some PRSSA faculty advisers, identified motivation might come from the sense of engaging in an activity that is assessed for employment review but holds little personal interest. At the opposite end of the motivation spectrum is intrinsic motivation, in which the individual finds internal enjoyment and fulfillment from the activities (Filak & Pritchard, 2007; Deci et al., 1989).
This study explores the following questions about PRSSA faculty advising:
RQ1: What are the common qualities of faculty who assume the role of PRSSA adviser?
RQ2: What is the common level of knowledge about the roles and responsibilities related to PRSSA faculty advising?
RQ3: What are the most significant challenges for PRSSA faculty advisers?
RQ4: What factors have the greatest impact on PRSSA faculty advisers’ role satisfaction?
Method This study used a two-phase online questionnaire of current PRSSA faculty advisers. Data was collected for phase one of the study in November of 2019, and phase two was collected in January and February of 2020. Questionnaires were developed using Qualtrics software and distributed via individual emails to PRSSA faculty advisers. Survey procedures were approved by the respective institutional review boards of the authors.
Study Population An initial request was placed through the PRSSA national office for a list of current PRSSA faculty advisers, and the request was denied. Moving forward, the authors identified PRSSA faculty advisers through the national chapter directory, available through the PRSSA national website, to develop an internal contact database of faculty advisers. When faculty adviser information was available in the PRSSA chapter directory, the authors conducted a search of faculty on university websites to identify the current PRSSA faculty adviser. In total, 381 PRSSA faculty advisers, including co-advisers, were identified at 370 U.S. university chapters. Participants were recruited for the phase one questionnaire through three unique tactics. First, a questionnaire information card with a QR code was given to advisers at the 2019 PRSSA National Conference. Second, three rounds of email invitations were sent to PRSSA faculty advisers over two months. Finally, questionnaire invitations were posted on private digital/social media groups such as the PRSSA Advisers Google group, PRSA Educators Academy social media channels, and Facebook groups for the Social Media Professors Community and Student-Run Agency Advisers. A qualifying question at the beginning of the survey and online individual interview asked participants if they were a current faculty adviser of their university PRSSA chapter. In total, 153 advisers completed the questionnaire for a response rate of 40.2%.
At the end of the phase one questionnaire, participants could opt-in to the phase two questionnaire through a separate sign-up link. Additional invitations were distributed to current PRSSA faculty advisers who: a) won the PRSSA Faculty Adviser of the Year award in the past decade, b) were members of the Commission on Public Relations Education, or c) were a Champion for PRSSA, a subgroup of PRSA “that brings together those who have special, ongoing interest in PRSSA, its student members and public relations education” (PRSA, n.d., para 1). In total, 44 invitations were distributed for the second-phase questionnaire, and 19 advisers completed the qualitative questions, for a response rate of 43.2%.
Phase One Questionnaire Design The first phase questionnaire included 70 items that measured five categories of information: a) general chapter information, b) faculty adviser information, c) PRSSA mission and requirements, d) faculty adviser insights, and e) personal and university demographic information. No identifying information was collected, though respondents were able to opt-in for a $40 Amazon gift card drawing through a separate link.
General Chapter Information This section included 12 questions to collect PRSSA chapter data about: a) chapter size, b) chapter practices including the frequency of chapter meetings, executive board meetings, fundraisers, and attending PRSA sponsored chapter events, and c) chapter participation in PRSSA-affiliated competitions, national awards programs, scholarships, and grants.
Faculty Adviser Information Sixteen questions covered topics such as a) the appointment process for PRSSA faculty advisers and the length of their term, b) faculty status and expected workload in teaching, research, and service, c) time commitment to PRSSA faculty advising duties, and d) compensation for faculty advising.
PRSSA Mission and Requirements Participants were shown excerpts of the PRSSA 2019-2020 Chapter Handbook (PRSSA, n.d.-c) that included Mission Statement (p. 5), Minimum Chapter Standards (p. 9), and Faculty Adviser Responsibilities (p. 12). Participants answered 12 Likert-scale questions to indicate their level of agreement with statements related to their personal understanding of the above areas as well as their perceptions of how well PRSSA chapter members, department colleagues, and administrators understood those guidelines.
Faculty Adviser Insights Participants answered six Likert-scale questions that assessed their level of agreement with statements related to a) personal satisfaction as a PRSSA faculty adviser, b) confidence in balancing PRSSA faculty advising with teaching, research, service and personal life, and c) their belief about whether first-year faculty should advise PRSSA.
Personal and University Demographic Information One personal demographic question related to gender was included to further examine Waymer’s (2014) findings of gender-based differences in PRSSA faculty advising. University demographic information included a) university location based on PRSA district chapter maps, b) university size, c) Carnegie classification, and d) program certification through the Accrediting Council on Education in Journalism and Mass Communication or PRSA Certification in Public Relations Education.
Phase Two Questionnaire Design The phase two questionnaire included 13 open-ended questions to gain additional qualitative insights about PRSSA faculty advising. Two rounds of email invitations were sent over one month. Participants answered questions about various aspects of PRSSA faculty advising including: a) how PRSSA national organization expectations align with university expectations, b) how PRSSA faculty advisers’ workload compared to other service duties (including advising other student organizations, c) what parts of PRSSA faculty advising administration doesn’t understand or recognize, d) how support services from the PRSSA national office help with PRSSA faculty advising, and e) what a faculty member should be aware of regarding PRSSA advising before accepting the role.
Who is the PRSSA Faculty Adviser? The vast majority of PRSSA faculty advisers are female at 69.9% (n = 107), followed by males at 29.8% (n = 44) and one respondent who declined to identify gender. PRSSA faculty advising duties primarily fall to full-time lecturers at 39.3% (n = 57) and tenure-track assistant professors at 29.0% (n = 42). Associate professors accounted for 19.3% (n = 28) of respondents, followed by full professors at 11.0% (n = 16), and one respondent who was a part-time lecturer.
Most respondents advised small- to medium-size PRSSA chapters with 37.5% (n = 57) advising chapters with 10-19 dues-paid members and 27.6% (n = 42) for chapters with 20-49 members. Only 18.4% (n = 28) advised chapters of more than 50 members. Advisers of chapters with fewer than 10 members accounted for 16.4% (n = 25) of respondents. An information request was made with the PRSA national office to provide the breakdown of all PRSSA chapters by membership size for 2020 to provide comparison data. The request was denied because “The membership numbers for both, PRSA and PRSSA change daily – especially PRSSA given its dues deadline ends is December 1st which will change the numbers dramatically. Prefer the member numbers do not get published given they change so frequently” (J. Starr, personal communication, November 19, 2021).
When examining how PRSSA faculty advisers come into their role, the majority (53.7%) of respondents reported that it was part of their job duties with 34.7% (n = 51) who were appointed by a supervisor, and 19.0% (n = 28) indicated advising was part of their official job description. Among the remaining responses, 27.9% (n = 41) volunteered for the role, 8.8% (n = 13) were elected by the PRSSA chapter, and 9.5% (n = 14) assumed the role by an “other” means such as founding the chapter (n = 5) or were the only faculty member available (n = 5).
When asked about the term length as PRSSA adviser, 72.1% (n = 106) of respondents indicated that no timeline was determined. Remaining respondents indicated defined term limits including 1 year at 2.7% (n = 4), 1 year with renewal at 8.2% (n = 12), two to three years at 6.1% (n = 9),four to five years at 2.7 % (n = 4), and five years or more at 8.2% (n = 12).
In terms of teaching load, 38.5% (n = 55) of respondents teach three classes per semester, followed closely by four classes at 37.8% (n = 54). The teaching loads of the remaining respondents were two classes per semester at 13.3% (n = 19), five classes or more at 8.4% (n = 12), and one class at 2.1% (n = 3).
What is the Common Level of Knowledge About the Roles and Responsibilities Related to PRSSA Faculty Advising? Respondents were asked their level of agreement, from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, with a statement that they understood the purpose of PRSSA and their perceptions that chapter members, colleagues, and administration understood the purpose of PRSSA. Faculty advisers agreed that they understand the purpose of PRSSA (M = 4.42, SD = .84), though they indicated less agreement that PRSSA chapter members (M = 3.83, SD = .948), colleagues (M = 3.12, SD = 1.11), and administration (M = 3.18, SD = 1.20) understood the purpose of PRSSA. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) test determined no significant differences between groups along the factors of gender or employment status. No correlations were found for PRSSA chapter size or university size.
In a related question, respondents were asked their level of agreement, from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, with a statement related to the understanding of the minimum chapter standards. Respondents indicated less agreement with their understanding of the minimum standards of PRSSA chapters, though they still somewhat agreed with the statement (M = 4.0, SD = 1.18). Lesser agreement was found in respondents’ perception of understanding of minimum PRSSA chapter standards among chapter members (M = 3.4, SD = 1.28), colleagues (M = 2.56, SD = 1.24), and administration (M = 2.57, SD = 1.26). An ANOVA test determined no significant difference between gender or employment status. A moderate positive correlation was found between chapter size and the respondents’ agreement that their administration understood the minimum chapter standards, r(132) = .195, p < .05, though the same relationship was not reflected in university size.
When asked about what training resources were used when assuming the role of PRSSA faculty adviser, respondents were most likely to use the PRSSA chapter handbook at 58.2% (n = 85), followed by advising materials on the PRSSA national website at 50.0% (n = 73). Respondents also consulted with a former PRSSA faculty adviser at the same university at 46.6%, or another university at 22.6% (n = 33). Respondents were least likely to reach out to the PRSSA national office at 17.8% (n = 26) or PRSA parent chapter office at 14.4% (n = 21). Respondents also indicated “other” training resources at 8.2% (n = 12) that included faculty adviser training available at the PRSA national conference (n = 2) or previous experience with professional or student organizations (n = 4). More than 17% (n = 25) of respondents did not use any training resources when assuming the role of PRSSA faculty adviser (see Figure 1).
Training Resources that PRSSA Faculty Advisers Used When Assuming Their Role
What are the Most Significant Challenges for PRSSA Faculty Advisers?
Workload The first step of examining the impact of PRSSA faculty advising was to ask tenured and tenure-track respondents to explain their expected workload breakdown in the context of teaching, research, and service as described in their respective faculty handbooks. Overall, the mean was 52.9 % for teaching, research 27.1%, and service 20.0%. The second step was to ask the same respondents their actual workload to determine if PRSSA faculty advising caused deviations from the expected workload. The mean percentages for actual workload were 51.4% for teaching, 19.1% research, and 29.5 % service. Differences between expected workload and actual workload in research and service were noted among all respondents, regardless of the size of the chapter they advised (see Table 1).
Expected and Actual Workloads of PRSSA Faculty Advisers by Chapter Size
PRSSA Chapter Size by Members
Expected Teaching Load
Actual Teaching Load
Expected Research Load
Actual Research Load
Expected Service Load
Actual Service Load
Less than 10
Time Commitment When asked about their weekly time engaged in PRSSA faculty advising duties, 62.2% (n = 89) of respondents spent between one and three hours per week engaged in advising duties, followed by four-to-six hours per week at 16.8% (n = 24), and less than one hour per week at 16.1% (n = 23). Respondents who spent at least seven hours per week engaged in PRSSA faculty advising duties came in at 4.9% (n = 7). When taking a deeper look at what duties comprised the time spent in advising, 36.6% is spent attending PRSSA chapter and executive board meetings, followed by chapter communication at 15.9%, planning on- and off-campus events at 13.7%, PRSSA member recruitment at 9.7%, completing and submitting documentation to maintain chapter status with the PRSSA national office or university at 8.8%, training the chapter executive board at 7.0%, review and submission of documentation for PRSSA chapter awards at 3.8%, and 5.0% of time was spent engaged in other duties like writing thank-you notes, advising individual PRSSA members, and writing recommendation letters for chapter members (see Figure 2). There was a moderate positive correlation between PRSSA chapter size and the amount of time faculty advisers spent on related duties each week, r(150) = .249, p < .001.
Percentage of Time Committed to PRSSA Faculty Advising Duties
Compensation Compensation was examined in terms of expected workload and financial accommodations. Most PRSSA faculty advisers received some type of workload compensation for their service. Partial fulfillment of service was the most common form of compensation at 59.4% (n = 85), followed by a course release at 7.7% (n = 11), or total fulfillment of service requirements at 5.6% (n = 8). In contrast, 22.4% (n = 32) of respondents receive no workload compensation for their service as PRSSA faculty adviser. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) test found no significant difference in workload compensation along the factors of gender or chapter size. A significant association existed between faculty status and workload compensation, X2 (8, N = 142) = 23.046, p = .003. More lecturers indicated that they received a course release (n = 10) than tenure-track (n = 1) or junior (n = 0) faculty. Lecturers were also more likely to receive no compensation (n = 16) than tenure-track (n = 5) or tenured (n =10) faculty (see Figure 3).
Workload Compensation by Faculty Status
In terms of financial compensation, 66.0% (n = 89) of respondents indicated their university fully paid their PRSA membership dues and an additional 2.9% (n = 4) received partial payment. Advisers who received no financial compensation accounted for 32.4% (n = 45) and 14 respondents declined to answer the question.
What Factors have the Greatest Impact on PRSSA Faculty Advisers’ Role Satisfaction? Respondents were asked to indicate the level of agreement, from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, with the statement, “I find satisfaction in being a PRSSA faculty adviser.” Respondents at least somewhat agreed with the statement (M = 4.18, SD = 1.047). Various statistical tests (t-test, ANOVA, correlations) were conducted to determine what factors might impact role satisfaction among PRSSA faculty advisers. No significant differences were found along factors of gender, faculty status, chapter size, or university size. A moderate positive correlation was found with how many hours per week respondents engaged in PRSSA advising duties, r(130) = .232, p < .001.
Meeting Expectations Respondents were asked their level of agreement, from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, to statements about their confidence in meeting expectations as a PRSSA faculty adviser. Respondents indicated high confidence in meeting personal expectations (M = 4.43, SD = .910), as well as the expectations of their PRSSA chapter (M = 4.48, SD = .886), colleagues (M = 4.62, SD = .715), and administration (M = 4.58, SD = .742). An independent samples t-test found no differences in confidence between gender. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) found a significant difference in confidence in meeting administration expectations between faculty status, F(2, 128) = 4.140, p = .018, with lecturers expressing the greatest confidence (M = 4.77, SD = .505), by tenured faculty (M = 4.56, SD = .852), and tenure-track faculty expressing the least confidence (M = 4.33, SD = .838). A moderate positive correlation was found between chapter size and meeting colleagues’ expectations, r(136) = .280, p<.001, as well as between chapter size and meeting administration expectations, r(136) = .305, p<.001. University size also had a positive, though smaller, correlation with meeting administration expectations, r(129) = .191, p<.05. Moderate positive correlations were found between role satisfaction and confidence to meet personal expectations and the expectations of others, with each correlation equal or greater than r(130) = .364, p < .001 (see Table 2).
Role Satisfaction and Meeting Expectations as PRSSA Faculty Adviser
Work and Life Balance Respondents were asked their level of agreement, from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, with statements about their ability to balance PRSSA faculty advising with teaching, research, and service responsibilities, as well as their personal life. The mean response for all items indicated respondents experienced lesser agreement with confidence in balancing PRSSA faculty advising with teaching (M = 3.68, SD = 1.321), research, (M = 3.29, SD = 1.250), service (M = 3.96, SD = 1.261), or their personal life (M = 3.78, SD = 1.198). An independent samples t-test found significant differences between male and female faculty advisers in their level of agreement toward balancing advising with teaching, as well as personal life. Female respondents (M = 3.55, SD = 1.333) indicated less agreement than males (M = 4.05, SD = 1.224) in balancing PRSSA faculty advising with teaching, t(129) = 1.980, p = .05. Additionally, female respondents (M = 3.60, SD = 1.176) indicated less agreement than males (M = 4.25, SD = 1.156) in balancing PRSSA faculty advising with their personal life, t(128) = 2.852, p = .005. A one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) test found no significant difference between faculty status. A moderate positive correlation was found between chapter size and agreement of balancing PRSSA faculty advising with service, r(129) = .178, p < .05, though no significant correlation was found for university size. Moderate positive correlations were found between role satisfaction and confidence in balancing workload/personal life with PRSSA faculty advising, with each correlation equal to or greater than r(130) = .343, p < .001 (see Table 3).
Role Satisfaction and Work/Life Balance as PRSSA Faculty Adviser
Advising PRSSA in the First Year on the Job Respondents were asked their level of agreement, from 1 = strongly disagree to 5 = strongly agree, to the statement, “First year faculty should not advise PRSSA.” Respondents (n =131) expressed limited agreement with statement (M = 3.57, SD = 1.342). Various tests (t-test, ANOVA, correlations) were conducted to determine differences among the factors of gender, faculty status, chapter size, university size, Carnegie classification of the university, compensation for advising, confidence in meeting expectations, balancing PRSSA advising with work/personal life, and personal satisfaction in advising PRSSA. Moderate negative correlations were found in relation to the balance with teaching responsibilities, r(129) = -.223, p < .05, balance with research responsibilities, r(129) = -.288, p < .001, and personal life, r(129) = -.236, p < .001 (see Table 4.)
Correlations Between “First Year Faculty Should Not Advise PRSSA” and Work/Life Balance
Discussion The current study provides a multidimensional perspective about the shared concerns and challenges of PRSSA faculty advisers. Through the theoretical lens of CARE—competence, autonomy, relatedness, and equity—the authors advocate for the following recommendations to benefit the advisers and members of the PRSSA organization.
Enhance Training and Support Services to Build the Feeling of Competence PRSSA faculty advisers’ satisfaction in their roles was significantly correlated to two key factors: a) confidence in meeting expectations and b) ability to balance PRSSA advising duties with other workload requirements and personal life. Meeting expectations at unique levels—personal, chapter, colleagues, and administration—all had a significant positive correlation on a PRSSA faculty adviser’s sense of satisfaction in their role. Meeting expectations reflects the SDT needs of satisfaction of competence (Filak & Pritchard, 2007) and relatedness (Ryan et al., 1995), as well as the emotional satisfaction that can stem burnout (Brown & Roloff, 2011; Brown et al., 2014). In examining the impact of faculty status on confidence in meeting expectations of administration, lecturers expressed the greatest confidence. As lecturers often have significant industry experience and/or membership with PRSA, that experience might provide a better foundation of organizational knowledge and best practices in the PRSSA faculty advising role. Chapter size also demonstrated a smaller, yet significant, correlation with meeting the expectations of colleagues and administrators.
As membership recruitment can be a strong indicator of success, additional training resources, support services, and adviser mentorship programs should be proactively implemented for PRSSA faculty advisers who do not have previous experience with PRSA or PRSSA. Support services provide a strong foundation for chapter success and, in turn, improve satisfaction among faculty advisers (Filak & Pritchard, 2007), especially those who are junior faculty. A female assistant professor commented, “When I became an adviser last year, it would have been great to have some sort of guide…an idea of expectations would be nice.” While the PRSSA national website does contain written resources for faculty advisers, more efforts are needed from PRSSA national leadership to proactively identify new faculty advisers and provide comprehensive support service. As a female lecturer shared, “I don’t seem to receive a lot of support, email, materials from PRSSA National. Often feel like I am on my own to figure it all out.”
There was a significant negative correlation between a PRSSA faculty adviser’s ability to balance their advising duties with their other work duties or personal life and their belief that first year faculty should advise PRSSA. This is important because while nearly 30% of PRSSA faculty advisers who responded to this survey were tenure-track assistant professors, there was no correlation between faculty status and the level of agreement that first-year faculty should not advise PRSSA. That could be a potential indicator that advisors who are unable to balance advising with other work and/or their personal duties are experiencing burnout and would not recommend the experience to others.
Recommendations Four key initiatives should be implemented by the PRSSA national office to improve the feeling of competence among PRSSA faculty advisers, which is positively correlated with job satisfaction. First, the PRSSA national office should empower faculty advisers to manage their chapter directory listing on the organizational website and add a feature to the chapter information page that notes when it was last updated. By maintaining a current directory, the national office can ensure communication is reaching the correct individuals. Second, more video training or synchronous training sessions should be offered by the PRSSA national office to ensure effective orientation of new faculty advisers and improve the understanding of the PRSSA mission, minimum chapter standards, and best practices of chapter management. Those materials should be clearly identified on the PRSSA national website and distributed as an electronic orientation package to new faculty advisers. Third, a district ambassador program, similar to the PRSSA national committee (PRSSA, n.d.-e), will allow ambassadors to act as a liaison between faculty advisers and PRSSA national leadership. Fourth, a faculty adviser mentorship program should be established by the PRSSA national office to pair veteran advisers with new advisers at different universities. While informal mentorships within universities might pair outgoing and incoming PRSSA faculty advisers, these relationships might not be an option when a current faculty adviser leaves the university. Through offering cross-university mentorship programs, the PRSSA national office can start new advisers on the right foot with community support and guidance. Finally, the authors recommend that first-year faculty should not advise PRSSA in a sole capacity but in a co-adviser capacity, when possible. As first-year faculty are often acclimating to the expectations of a new university and possibly a new city, a one-year transition period of co-advising will offer new faculty the time to become acquainted with PRSSA members, understand chapter expectations, and build vital networks in the professional community.
Support Autonomy in Meeting Unique Chapter Needs In examining how PRSSA faculty advisers came into their roles, there was a common conflict between the guidelines of the PRSSA national office and internal practices of university departments. The national PRSSA Chapter Handbook states that the faculty adviser should be elected annually by the chapter membership (PRSSA, n.d.-c, p. 12), but fewer than than 10% of advisers came into their role through an election process. In contrast, more than half of the advisers have the role written into their job descriptions or were appointed by department supervisors. An appointment process circumvents the input of chapter members to select an adviser who understands the needs of the organization and an ability to provide effective counsel for successful chapter management. A common challenge for smaller universities is that there might only be one or two faculty who are qualified to assume the role of adviser. That scenario leads to another common aspect of faculty advising, in that more than 70% of advisers have no timeline determined for their role. An undetermined timeline can potentially lead to job burnout (Brown & Roloff, 2011) especially when no incentives or compensation exist for advising PRSSA.
Recommendation As fewer than 10% of faculty advisers are currently elected to their role, this is an unnecessary policy that does not align with university needs. The authors recommend the elimination of the faculty adviser election requirement or engage in stronger educational efforts that explain why yearly elections of PRSSA faculty advisers are necessary to the health of individual chapters.
Foster Relatedness between PRSSA Stakeholder Groups Support from colleagues, administration, and the PRSSA national office are crucial to the success of chapters, which can potentially have a dramatic positive impact on the PRSSA faculty adviser’s confidence in meeting expectations and greater role satisfaction. As the results of this study demonstrated, greater understanding is needed from colleagues and administration about the mission and minimum standards of PRSSA. A female assistant professor shared, “I do not get any support. It is really hard to get other faculty members excited about what PRSSA is doing or encourage their students to get involved.” That understanding is especially important from administrators as they are often in the position to assign the faculty adviser and provide financial support to the organization through departmental funding. Respondents indicated they disagreed that administrators understood the minimum standards of PRSSA. While the PRSSA chapter might meet the university standards for a student organization, administrators might not understand that the chapter does not meet the minimum standards of the national PRSSA organization and, thus, runs the risk of having its status revoked. As an organization that charges $55 in 2019 for national dues, it is also important that students receive value-added chapter programming and support that justifies students’ financial investment. A female lecturer shared, “I don’t think our university has any idea what the PRSSA National values or expectations are. In general, PRSSA National’s expectations are much more stringent than any the university requires of us.”
Recommendations While the PRSSA national board does include representation of one national faculty adviser, there is a missed opportunity to implement shared governance that is representative of a diverse community of PRSSA faculty advisers. The PRSSA national office should adopt an organizational philosophy that prioritizes stakeholder democracy (Deetz, 1995) where organization management, faculty advisers, student leaders, and university administration are working in consort to address common concerns and find mutually beneficial solutions. The authors recommend the establishment of an advisory board comprised of current PRSSA faculty advisers that includes a broad representation based on chapter size, geographic location, faculty status, and university Carnegie classification. The advisory board should meet, at minimum, once per semester to address ongoing issues and to identify emerging issues that impact the PRSSA organization. In addition to the establishment of the advisory board of PRSSA faculty advisers, the PRSSA national office should implement a yearly stakeholder summit that includes representation of the national student executive board, university administration, college relations committees of PRSA local chapters, professional advisers, and faculty advisers.
Advocate for PRSSA Faculty Adviser Equity When analyzing the common qualities of PRSSA faculty advisers, nearly half of PRSSA faculty advisers teach four or more classes in addition to their advising duties. That workload can create a physical and emotional strain on advisers who feel like they are asked to do more than their colleagues. Equity emerged as the common thread through many shared challenges of PRSSA faculty advisers
PRSSA faculty advisers face specific challenges regarding their workload, time commitment, and financial obligations related to their role. In examining the breakdown of workload along the context of teaching, research, and service, survey respondents indicated their expected workload (as described in their faculty handbook) and actual workload. There was minimal difference between expected and actual workload for teaching. In contrast, there was an inversion when examining the expected and actual workloads for research and service. This is important to note because PRSSA faculty advising increases the service workload for faculty, which is taking away from time that would be dedicated to research. This time imbalance includes the spontaneous demands of extra-role labor such as student recommendation letters and award applications that Brown and Roloff (2011) warned contribute to teacher stress and burnout. A male assistant professor offered this insight, “Advising PRSSA is at the bottom of my list. My other duties and workload is considered a higher priority by the university.”
In terms of actual time commitment, the vast majority of PRSSA faculty advisers spend between one and three hours per week on advising duties. When put into the context of a 40-hour week, that compromises between 2.5% to 7.5% of the workweek that is dedicated to PRSSA advising duties. Yet, 21.7% of faculty advisers spend more than four hours each week engaged in chapter duties. While PRSSA is commonly promoted as a “student-led organization,” it should be noted that faculty advisers might shoulder a significant level of day-to-day management duties when executive boards are small, thus increasing their time commitment beyond their service expectations. A male associate professor stated,
When you focus on the PRSSA Chapter, in building it and sustaining it, it becomes a part-time job that can easily consume 20 hours a week in peak periods of work. This has actually been an unhealthy tension that negatively impacts [the] service load, which puts the total workload out of balance.
In addition to the issue of time commitment, it is important to note the financial obligation required of PRSSA faculty advisers. As of 2020, national membership in the PRSA costs $260. Additional survey comments suggest that advisers are also active in local PRSA chapter, district, or national-level service commitments. Interest group or local chapter memberships may add $100 or more for each additional membership. A trip to the PRSSA or PRSA international conferences (including the PRSA Educators Academy’s Super Saturday conference) is an additional layer to the financial investment wherein the adviser incurs an expense for hotel, airfare and ground transportation, conference registration fee, meals, social events, and celebration dinners or other events which are all charged a la carte and, then per organizational policy, awaits reimbursement if it is offered at all.
Despite the efforts through the national PRSSA office (PRSSA, n.d.-b) and PRSA Foundation (PRSA Foundation, 2020) to incentivize student engagement within PRSSA chapters through scholarships, grants, and awards, PRSA traditionally does not offer membership or conference discounts for PRSSA faculty advisors (though a limited PRSA national dues waiver was offered in the fall of 2020 due to COVID-19). Nearly one-third of faculty advisers who participated in this study indicated their university did not cover the cost of PRSA membership fees. Given the research findings that the vast majority of advisers are lecturers or junior faculty, the expense of PRSA membership might be a financial hardship to those who can least likely to afford it. The issue of financial compensation, minimally for dues, should be addressed by both the PRSSA national organization and university administrations to ensure PRSSA faculty advisers do not experience a financial burden as a result of their service.
As research is often prioritized over service in tenure-and-promotion review, PRSSA faculty advising poses a potential threat to maintaining an active research agenda. That aligns with Waymer’s (2014) finding that “females are carrying a larger service responsibility than their male counterparts at a potentially critical time in the tenure process” (p. 412). This study found the actual service load was significantly increased, and actual research load was decreased, in comparison to the stated expectations of the university faculty handbook. As a female tenure-track assistant professor shared, “One of the most frustrating parts is seeing the workload of other faculty members in the department. If they don’t advise an org like PRSSA, they are able to accomplish a lot more research, or have time to pursue other areas of service.”
Nearly 60% of PRSSA faculty advisers receive partial credit to their service requirement with their advising duties, but 24.5% receive no time compensation. That inconsistency can lead to feelings of inequality and frustration among advisers because there is no consistency in how their role applies in the annual review or tenure-and-promotion process. One female assistant professor added context to this conundrum, “There are some schools that already grant their advisors course releases— so I do feel there should be consistencies and a recommendation by PRSSA— to recognize advisors.” That sentiment was also reflected by a female associate professor,
Frankly, if the strategic aim is to build a chapter that achieves Star status, regularly attends nationals, and generates teams for Bateman competitions, the faculty likely needs a course release to facilitate it, and the department needs to incorporate PRSSA into the annual budget to support the chapter.
Adding service assignments to advising can push PRSSA faculty advisers well beyond the expected service requirements, causing a situation where a) less time is given to research, b) there is a diminished work-life balance, or c) the PRSSA faculty adviser is not able to provide substantial counsel to maintain chapter success. The added stress of having to intentionally forego some PRSSA chapter advising standards to maintain career equilibrium ties to the emotional toll of not keeping promises (in this case, to the PRSSA chapter and stakeholders expecting chapter success) that Brown and Roloff (2011) warn contribute to burnout. Administrators need to communicate with PRSSA faculty advisers to understand how much time is spent advising and assign other service duties only in proportion to the overall expected service workload as determined by the university faculty handbook. This is best summarized by responses from a male lecturer, “I am not evaluated at all on PRSSA service for my evaluation. It’s all teaching evaluation. Those courses are often a priority, meaning I tackle PRSSA when everything else is done.”
An unexpected finding that emerged in this study was the impact of emotional labor on role satisfaction of PRSSA faculty advisers. Job-focused emotional labor is the “emotional display” that employees perform in a “people-centric” job with expected emotional duties (Brown et al., 2014). Emotional labor is another possible concern for advising. Teaching is already a job known to cause possible high negative emotional labor tolls due to sustained interaction with students of varying needs (Brown & Roloff, 2011; Brown et al., 2014; Zhang & Zhu, 2007), and adding advising creates another service component requiring sustained student interaction. “Teachers experience repeated interactions with the same students in a way that is both long-term and intense” (Brown et al., 2014, p. 207). As a female full professor said, “There is a lot of coaching and supporting, and it cannot be done in absentia.” Administrators should be sensitive to the extra-role labor and emotional labor of advising a student organization that can extend a faculty member’s service contribution beyond university expectations.
Recommendations As the issue of equity emerged as the primary concern among PRSSA faculty advisers, the authors offer several recommendations to address this issue. First, the PRSSA national office should permanently waive a) the PRSA membership fee, b) local chapter membership fee, and c) PRSSA national conference registration fee. The waiving of those fees relieves the financial burden many faculty advisers personally shoulder and recognizes the value PRSSA faculty advisers bring in service to their respective chapters.
Second, the PRSSA national office should strongly advocate for time compensation for faculty advisers. As this study has demonstrated, PRSSA faculty advisers who receive little-to-no compensation in regard to time commitment often struggle to balance advising duties with other faculty job expectations. As a result, faculty advising might become a low-level priority that can be detrimental to growth of individual chapters. At minimum, the PRSSA national office should advocate for PRSSA faculty advisers to receive full credit for service requirements or, ideally, a course release for advising PRSSA. To manage a successful chapter might be compared to teaching a year-long campaigns class that can be aligned to specific learning outcomes in the public relations curriculum. By advocating for equitable time compensation, the PRSSA national office will provide necessary resources to faculty advisers to provide effective counsel to their chapters that support membership growth, improved programming, and greater participation in national initiatives and events.
Finally, the PRSSA national office should issue an informational document that can be distributed to university administration as an educational tool about the PRSSA organization and its expectations for university chapters. This document should provide a) the mission and scope of PRSSA, b) minimum PRSSA chapter standards, c) a detailed description of faculty adviser duties, d) minimum expectations of the time commitment to PRSSA faculty advising, e) financial obligations to be a PRSSA faculty adviser, and e) recommendations to fairly compensate PRSSA faculty advisers. The document should be developed with the input of the PRSSA faculty advisor board previously recommended in this paper.
Conclusion This study represents a first wave of research by the authors about the opportunities and challenges of PRSSA faculty advising. As this study illustrates, PRSSA advising is an experience from which most faculty gain a strong sense of satisfaction. Yet, there are specific challenges that must be addressed to ensure that faculty are supported and compensated fairly. The confidence in meeting the expectations has a direct impact on role satisfaction of PRSSA faculty advisers. Greater efforts should be implemented to provide advisors with the tools, resources, and support—at both the university level and via the PRSSA national office—to help faculty advisers, especially those new to the role, succeed in their efforts. This paper serves as a collaborative tool for current and future advisers, university administrators, and PRSSA national leadership to understand the common challenges PRSSA faculty advisers experience. Likewise, this study allows for faculty members to create strategies for chapter and student-level improvements based on the reported experiences of other advisers based on their chapters. This research serves as a tool through which to create a more controlled investment of time and energy into the service realm of faculty requirements for promotion and/or tenure.
Certain limitations existed in this study. Though best efforts were made by the authors to ensure all faculty advisers could participate in the study, only a small number (n = 2) of faculty advisers of large PRSSA chapters (>100 members) participated in the study. Greater participation from large chapter advisers might have provided insights into best practices that could be shared to benefit small chapters’ development and growth. In addition, a parallel faculty adviser study was launched by the PRSSA national office during the same timeline of phase two of this study, which might have limited participation in the qualitative questionnaire. While the PRSSA national office did launch new initiatives in 2019 in an effort to address concerns expressed by faculty advisers through its own research, the results of this research were not made public. There are key issues found in this study related to role satisfaction, as well as work and life balance, that remained unaddressed by PRSSA national. Finally, information requests by the authors to provide organization membership data were denied by the PRSA national offices.
Future research by the authors will focus on solutions to address the challenges identified in the current study. Specifically, the issues of emotional and extra-role labor appear to hold importance to many PRSSA faculty advisers, and the authors will pursue additional research to explore those issues in more depth. In addition, further research should explore the role of the professional adviser as a partner who helps shoulder the load of advising duties. Through collaborative participation between PRSSA national leadership, university administration, current and present faculty advisers, and chapter leadership, future research holds the potential to create a more rewarding and successful experience for PRSSA faculty advisers and their chapters.
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