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«13TH INTERNATIONAL PUBLIC RELATIONS RESEARCH CONFERENCE “Ethical Issues for Public Relations Practice in a Multicultural World” Holiday Inn ...»

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By constructing a research design based on framing analysis, patterns of attribution, credibility in both organizations’ pro-social messages, assumed corporate social responsibility, and the relationship between activist publics and the organization were identified. As this study shows, the dominant frames and attributions that were identified in the news coverage can shape readers’ perceptions of the environmental issue and the groups that are deeply involved in setting policies.

By assessing the relationships between the frames, this study not only incorporated its findings into the greater theoretical framework of conflict and crisis literature, but contributed to the relevance of the framing of conflict in PR and mass communication scholarship. PR practitioners may especially gain insights that news media frame large organizations in the private sector differently from conflicting organizations in the public sector, relative to the crisis 371 and historical association at hand. The findings offered in this study further assist industry professionals in their knowledge of crisis and conflict frames, which may help in the development of PR strategy and conflict resolution. For PR scholars and practitioners, understanding elements of organizational conflict and crisis is of great importance not only due to the value of brand reputation, but also due to the influence of news media on public memory, and the ultimate framing of accountability. Lastly, the identification and comparison of the frames and attributes assigned to the conflict in this study will not only assist scholars and industry professionals in broadening their understanding of how media report conflict, but more importantly how public debates centered on government policies are formulated, especially in a crisis framework.

Future research This study may be further enriched with the incorporation of a quantitative content analysis. In the near future, an expansion of this study shall include an analysis of time variation in the framework of conflict contingency between major American and British newspapers. A comparative study may lend insight to cross-cultural differences in the framing of this conflict.

In supplement, a series of in-depth interviews from members of BP and Greenpeace could support and challenge the findings derived from my content analyses. It should be noted that these additional angles to my current study are held under high consideration to further enhance and expand the scope of this investigation.

372

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Whatchoo Talkin' ‘Bout, Jenny?: Analyzing Messages in Jenny Craig and the 50 Million Pound Challenge’s Online Weight-Loss Programs

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Abstract

Guided by situational theory of publics, this study analyzed the messages on Jenny Craig and the 50 Million Pound Challenge weight-loss Web sites to determine if, and how, the sites are enabling Black women to remove constraints and promote information seeking in their weightloss efforts. Black women have the highest rate of obesity in the country, and previous studies have concluded that culturally-sensitive factors such as family/social support, costs, and cultural relevance are variables needed in messages in order to engage Black women in the message and potentially move them to action. A content and rhetorical analysis of the home pages of Jenny Craig and the 50 Million Pound Challenge Web sites revealed that Jenny Craig lacks culturallysensitive factors that motivate Black Women to attune to its message, whereas the 50 Million Pound Challenge succeeds. Implications for designing culturally-sensitive messages are discussed, as well as limitations of this study and possible direction for future research.

376

Introduction

Obesity is an international and national health concern (International Obesity Taskforce, 2009). Approximately 300 million people globally and 68 million nationally are obese (American Heart Association, 2008; International Obesity Taskforce, 2009). The rise in obesity (Body Mass Index ≥ 30) has contributed to a rise in health care costs and heart disease, diabetes, cancer, stroke, respiratory problems, osteoarthritis, gynecological problems, and death (Centers for Disease Control, 2009). Black women particularly are disproportionately affected compared to White women. Approximately 52% of Black women are affected by obesity compared to 30% of White women, which translates into higher morbidity and mortality rates among Blacks (American Hearth Association, 2008; Fitzgibbon et al., 2008). Furthermore, Black women are less likely to engage in exercise and regular physical activity than White women (Befort et al., 2008; Nies, Vollman, & Cook, 1999) Black women desire to lose weight but are less likely than other racial/ethnic groups to participate in health-promoting behaviors, weight loss interventions, or weight loss (Befort et al., 2008; Clark et al., 2001; Kumanyika, 1987). Overall, researchers found that social and economic factors play a significant role in the target audience’s motivation to attune to a message in weight-loss programs and subsequently lose weight (Aldoory, 2001; Mastin & Campo, 2006;

Springston & Champion, 2004).

Consumers are increasingly seeking health promotion behaviors on the Internet to help improve health outcomes (Baek & Yu, 2009; Evers et al., 2003). Among Black Americans, women more than men prefer health-related Web sites to gain control of their health (Cline & Haynes, 2001). Online weight-loss programs are one avenue that women take to achieve their weight-loss goals (Warner & Procaccino, 2007). Furthermore, online weight-loss sites function rhetorically, as locations of persuasive arguments about their programs and about their publics, or audiences. Web sites also project social identities as sites of engagement. One way of conceiving social identity is through the Burkean concept rhetorical definition that examines the nature of being through a negotiation of self-identification with the perceptions of others.

Essential elements of the social identity of Web sites would include the home page, with its arrangement of message, design and voice/authority.

Although many exist, only a few weight-loss Web sites are culturally-targeted to Black women (Tsai et al., 2009). Research shows that factors including familial support, minimal costs, and familiar dietary patterns are important messages to incorporate into weight-loss messages for Black women. However, many mainstream commercial weight-loss Web sites stress individuality, costly fees, and unorthodox meals as a part of their program (Tsai & Wadden, 2005), which may decrease Black women’s involvement in mainstream weight-loss program messages (Thomas, Moseley, Stallings, Nichols-English, & Wagner, 2008).

Situational theory of publics predicts a person’s likelihood of information seeking and participation with an organization based on the person’s problem recognition, involvement and constraint recognition (Aldoory & Sha, 2008; Cameron, & Yang 1991; Grunig, 1978). An individual will actively seek information and take action if she recognizes obesity to be a serious problem (high problem recognition) directly affecting her (high involvement) and there are minimal barriers that inhibit her ability to lose weight (low constraint recognition).

377 Thus, this study examined messages, visuals, and strategies used in two weight-loss Web sites, Jenny Craig and the 50 Million Pound Challenge, to investigate how the two online programs are targeting Black women. Jenny Craig is one the largest nonmedical commercial weight-loss programs in the U.S. (Tsai & Wadden, 2005), and the 50 Million Pound Challenge campaign is Public Relations Society of America’s 2008 Silver Anvil Award winner (PRSA, 2008). Guided by situational theory, this study will employ content and rhetorical analyses to assess Jenny Craig’s approach in targeting Black women and compare it to the 50 Million Pound Challenge program, which is culturally-targeted to Blacks through messages that address socioeconomic, cultural, and environmental factors.



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