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Additionally, this study identifies and describes the new types of blogger publics, which theoretically advances the research on the segmentation and identification of publics. This proposed model suggests that bloggers’ journalistic behavior activate issues in the blogosphere. At the same time, this model emphasizes that even if journalistic communication over the blogosphere facilitates the issue activation, it varies depending on bloggers psychological competence and issue involvement. Particularly, this study integrates the numerous communication activities that constitute issue activation with the concept of journalistic behavior. This concept maintains that even if journalism studies have argued that blogging can result in the formation of new journalism (Blood, 2002a; Gillmor, 2004; Kerbel & Bloom, 2005), individual blogger’s level of journalistic behavior is a crucial yardstick for judging whether bloggers are influential key publics to organizations. This means that unless bloggers behave journalistically, they are merely equal to private online diary users. In addition, the blog self-efficacy concept has value because it circumscribes bloggers’ journalistic behaviors. These new criteria for segmenting blogger publics – blog self-efficacy and journalistic behavior – are useful in understanding how members of blogger 609 publics perceive choices about their possible courses of action, and how they view communicative constraints.
In practical terms, this proposed model may help public relations practitioners to discern the dominant publics in the blog context for a focal organization. In specific, the BPS model offers the practitioners useful tools to investigate the journalistic practices of blogger publics. Analyzing the journalistic practices of blogger publics is more proactive than waiting for a group to dispute issues relevant to an organization, which opens greater opportunities for public relations to develop relationships with potential target blogger publics. To deal effectively with an issue in the blogosphere, practitioners need to develop an understanding of both the strength of journalistic behavior and the state of blogger publics in which a particular issue evolves. The practitioners should also keep in mind that diverse journalistic communications of blogger publics are available worldwide and facilitate active blogger publics’ abilities to influence others, mobilize people to action, and create new issues and publics. Moreover, public relations practitioners must understand which blogging patterns activate issues, and try to develop positive relationships with the key blogger publics at ordinary times.
These findings also have limitations. First, the proposed model should be verified in diverse issues and cultural contexts. This study is conducted regarding one issue, the food security problem in Korea, and may thus pose limitations for interpreting the emergence of blogger public types in general. Additionally, the method of online sampling may not be representative of other blogger populations. However, it is rarely possible to sample systematically given there are no lists for blog populations; replication studies for this model are thus needed. Second, in addition to the variables of the BPS model, there are several candidate variables. For instance, levels of knowledge on issues may relate to other specific blogger publics, and valence of hostility or goodwill of publics to an organization will classify bloggers in detail. Because some publics could be either supportive of or hostile to the current organizational stance, they would also be different in journalistic communication patterns in problem solving. These can be future research topics in line with the research program to find ‘to whom’ the blog- related public relations practices should be directed.
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