The purpose of this paper is to explore the linkages between public relations efforts and policymaking activity during a non-election setting.
Using a time-lag design, this study used content analysis to examine public relations materials and policymaking activity during the first six months of US President Barack Obama’s second term. The public relations data were collected from the official White House website and social media. The policymaking data were collected from congressional calendars of business.
The data revealed varying degrees of support across the three levels of agenda-building for issues, attributes, and issue/attribute co-occurrence. Contrary to the expected relationship that public relations drives policymaking activity, the data suggest that policymaking activity was a stronger predictor of public relations material.
This study provides modest support for time-lag agenda-building effects across three levels. However, future experimental research is needed to truly assess causal relationships. Future research should also explore alternative sources of data for policymaking activity.
This study demonstrates that the efficacy of information subsidy types is not uniform and should be chosen strategically. Traditional subsidy types were most effective for driving issues, while digital subsidy types provided more useful outlets for driving issue attributes.
This study contributes to political public relations scholarship by exploring the temporal relationships between public relations efforts and policymaking activity in a non-election setting. The time-lag design serves as an exploratory inquiry into the agenda-building process.
Schweickart, T., Neil, J., Kim, J. and Kiousis, S. (2016), "Time-lag analysis of the agenda-building process between White House public relations and congressional policymaking activity", Journal of Communication Management, Vol. 20 No. 4, pp. 363-380. https://doi.org/10.1108/JCOM-01-2016-0001Download as .RIS
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