CNM Dialogues In Comms- Politically Entertained: Entertainment Media and Political Public Relations

Assistant Professor Azmat Rasul will facilitate a discussion on:

Politically Entertained: Entertainment Media and Political Public Relations

Political public relations is the art of positively changing public perceptions of political leaders in democratic societies, as public relations is a natural ally of politics. To influence public perception, political organizations have public relations experts dedicated to ensuring a politician appears in the best light possible, whether in the media or at public events. Entertainment programs are one of the most convenient vehicles used to cultivate positive perceptions of politicians and attract attention of the voters. Recent academic literature suggests that young voters acquire information about political candidates through various genres of entertainment. To examine the effects of entertainment narratives on political knowledge gain and attitude change in audiences of fictionalized accounts of female politicians, I collected data from 310 participants and the results indicated that political knowledge significantly increased and general attitudes towards female politicians became more positive after exposure to biographical political movies. A proposed SEM model of the political entertainment effects process indicated that initial political knowledge transported the audience into the biographical narrative. Increased transportation was associated with greater enjoyment, as well as political knowledge gain and more positive attitudes towards female politicians. This study contributed to the existing literature on political public relations by suggesting that fictional entertainment could be used as an effective public relations tool to change political attitudes.

In another study, I examined the effects of Facebook use on political attitudes, as social media and the Internet have added a new layer to public relations and political campaigns. Candidates need a social media strategy to keep them in the minds of voters. For example, Hillary Clinton’s campaign has been creating easy-to-share social media posts to describe her student loan policies. I was interested in examining if the new and interactive modes of communication were influencing political attitudes of young voters. Data collected from 242 young adults indicated that Facebook use was positively and significantly related to various political attitudes. Facebook use led to heightened levels of political self-efficacy and political support, while political self-efficacy mediated the relationship between Facebook use and political participation among young adults. The findings suggested that use of social media platforms led to political well-being of young publics, and enhanced efficacy of the public relations strategies in political campaigns. In accordance with recent literature in political public relations, my study suggested that social media and digital space will continue to be of critical importance to the public relations practitioners.

DATE: Wednesday, 8 Nov 2017
TIME: 3:30 PM
VENUE: Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, Block AS6, #03-33, CNM Meeting Room

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