Fall 2012 Issue

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Facebook Pages and Benefits to Brands

By Elizabeth E. Bushelow

Facebook fan pages allow a brand to create an online community of brand users through the social networking site. By pressing Facebook's "like" button, a Facebook user can become a fan of the page and can interact with the brand and other consumers. This research aimed to examine whether liking and interacting with a Facebook fan page has an effect on brand loyalty and purchase intentions, and Facebook fan pages create an online brand community. An analysis of 104 online survey responses indicates that interaction with fan pages is not a strong indicator of consumer brand loyalty or purchase intentions, suggesting that brand communities are not formed on the basis of liking a page. Faculty mentor: Dr. Derek Lackaff

The Invisible Become Visible: An Analysis of How People Experiencing Homelessness Use Social Media

By Mary Yost

This research examined how people experiencing homelessness use the social media platforms of blogs, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Through 15 interviews at a day shelter in a central North Carolina city, the author discovered that people experiencing homelessness use Facebook for three main reasons: to remain connected with family and friends, to find support, and to share ideas in a safe space. This research conclude that homeless service providers should offer classes that teach their clients how to use social media websites. Also, people experiencing homelessness may be more likely to use a wider variety of social media websites if service providers post valuable information for their clients on those web pages. Faculty mentor: Dr. Naeemah Clark

The Interactive Indulgence: The Use of Advergames to Curb Childhood Obesity

By Shannon King

As childhood obesity rates in the United States continue to rise, health professionals and pro-health advocates are looking to utilize interactive media tactics for childhood obesity prevention. This study analyzed the viewpoints of interactive media agency professionals regarding the strategy, measurement, and future potential of advergames. Research was conducted through intensive interviews with agency professionals. This study found that advergames can influence an audience's behavior through their various interactive elements and entertaining platforms. Application of Fisher's Narrative paradigm provides additional insight into the persuasive nature of advergames. Successful advertising campaigns utilize integrated forms of media, with interactive media technologies serving to complement traditional media. Despite the ever-changing media landscape, advergames may prove to be a sustainable strategy for childhood obesity prevention. Faculty mentor: Dr. Vic Costello

Image Restoration in Political Sex Scandals: What to Do (and What Not to Do) When You're Caught with Your Pants Down

By Margaret Moran

This study sought to apply a Crisis Communications lens to the area of American political sex scandals. Applying William Benoit's "Theory of Image Restoration" to 24 American sex scandals, ranging from 1987 to 2011 and all of which received significant national attention, this study examined each official’s public statements in response to allegations of sexual impropriety and coded them for their adherence to the five strategies outlined in Benoit’s work. The study found "Evading Responsibility" to be most frequently used, while "Denial" was the least utilized of his tactics. This study served to help answer the question of whether or not today’s politicians are held to a higher standard, and what this means for the future of political accountability. Faculty mentor: Dr. Michael Frontani

Crisis Management and Sports in the Age of Social Media:
A Case Study Analysis of the Tiger Woods Scandal

By Blair Bernstein

Tiger Woods saw his reputation crumble as reports of infidelity leaked to the press in November of 2009. This research evaluated the crisis management strategies of Woods and his crisis management staff, as well as social media's role and reaction to the scandal. The eight press statements issued by Woods between Nov. 29, 2009, and Aug. 23, 2010, served as the primary documents for this case study analysis. Results found that mortification was the most frequently used crisis management strategy. Despite the criticism Woods received for his handling of the crisis, social media research indicates that his team's approach has been effective in shifting online conversations away from the scandal and back to Woods and golf. Faculty mentor: Dr. Michael Frontani

Corporate Use of Environmental Marketplace Advocacy:
A Case Study of GE's 'Ecomagination' Campaign

By Kristi Lee Jacobsen

This study explored the concept of marketplace advocacy within the context of General Electric’s "Ecomagination" environmental campaign. The study looked at what makes marketplace advocacy campaigns successful, how these campaigns are used to conceal environmental issues, and what concerns the public has with the corporations that implement these campaigns. The results indicated that marketplace advocacy is a powerful strategic communications tool that can be used by corporations to successfully alter public opinion and impact policy surrounding environmental concerns and issues. Faculty mentor: Dr. Barbara Copeland

Coupons of the 21st Century: The Golden Age of the Daily Deal Industry

By Kathleen Donnelly

Since their introduction in the late 1800s, coupons have transformed drastically to appeal to the changing needs and behaviors of the common consumer. Although still existing, the classic paper coupon went digital with the introduction of the Internet. Now, companies such as Groupon and LivingSocial offer discount gift certificates in a "deal-of-the-day" format. This research focused on the unique features of daily deal promotions and the impact they have on persuading consumers to purchase goods and services. Additionally, this research analyzed how Groupon and LivingSocial use social networking as a relationship-building tool to reach consumers on a local and national level. The case study analysis found both companies rely on witty advertising content to relate to consumers as well as actively utilize social media sites for feedback from customers. Faculty mentor: Dr. Vic Costello

Anime: From Cult Following to Pop Culture Phenomenon

By Samantha Nicole Inez Chambers

This study examined the scope of influence that Japanese anime had on American people born in the '80s and '90s. Relying on secondary research and a survey using a convenience sample of 107 students and young adults, this study found that anime conveys a negative image associated with violence and fringe culture, but people see anime as more of an art form than tasteless violent film. The study also found that piracy, though not overly common, was still practiced in the case of Japanese media, but some major studios are not impeding these fansubbing (fan-made subtitles) movements. They believe that fansubbing promotes their brand and that merchandising can help recover the profits lost on film sales. Faculty mentors: Dr. Michael Frontani and Byung Lee

U.S. Media's Failure to Set the Agenda for Covering Sex Trafficking

By Danielle Martinelli

The sex trafficking industry poses a clear and present threat in society, but the American public seems to be unaware of the gravity of the issue within the U.S. Analyzing the agenda setting theory by focusing on stories on the New York Times and CNN websites gives evidence that the media failed to inform the public. The public’s lack of awareness was found to be due to the presence of social media and the birth of online newspapers. For a bigger impact, the media can create a social consensus through more high profile articles and personal stories and place them in prominent, high trafficked areas of their websites. Faculty mentors: Dr. Amanda Gallagher and Dr. Michael Frontani