UGA researchers receive grants to study talent management of millennial PR practitioners and leaders

Two faculty members at the Department of Advertising and Public Relations in the Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication have received $26,500 in funding from the Plank Center for Leadership in Public Relations at the University of Alabama to carry out two large research projects on public relations. The research grant includes support of a full time doctoral student, Holley Reeves, as a research assistant to work on both projects for the academic calendar year of 2014-2015.

In one of the two funded research projects, Bryan H. Reber, assistant department head and professor of public relations, and Juan Meng, assistant professor of public relations, will research issues related to recruitment and retention of millennials in public relations.

“We want to find out how millennials want to be engaged when they start their careers in the public relations profession,” Meng said. “They are a very unique generation of multi-taskers. They've been educated through digital media and social media.”

During the first phase of the Millennial research project, the research team will conduct in-depth interviews with both Millennial PR practitioners and senior executives who are responsible for identifying and nurturing professional talent. Such in-depth interviews will capture the insights from both groups about their knowledge of talent management. The research team will use the information identified in the interviews to lay out the foundations for the second phase of the project, which will consist of online surveys and panel research on a larger national sample of Millennial PR practitioners.

“We want to find out the effective strategies organizations can use to keep the Millennial professionals engaged. We also want to find out possible pedagogical approaches to prepare our graduates to be better future leaders, as this is the central focus of my research” Meng said. The Millennial project will span two academic years, from 2014-2016.

The other research project will focus on grasping a larger picture of leadership performance in public relations and communication management. Led by Meng and Bruce K. Berger, professor emeritus of advertising and public relations at the University of Alabama, the one-year study will survey 450-500 senior and middle-level public relations executives from around the United States.

“The ultimate goal is for us to get their knowledge of public relations leaders' performance inside the organization, plus how that relates to their feeling of support of organizational culture, and how that affects their own feelings on job engagement, trust of their employers and overall job satisfaction,” Meng said. “We want to find a way to help the profession develop better leaders.”

The Plank Center is currently the only institute funding the projects, but the researchers are actively seeking additional funding from other sources.

Date: November 14, 2014
Author:  Stephanie Moreno,
Contact:  Juan Meng,