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Title:
Nautical knowledge : an experimental analysis of the influence of public relations strategies in safe boating communication
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Book
Language:
English
Creator:
Guilfoil, Emily
Publisher:
University of South Florida
Place of Publication:
Tampa, Fla
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Subjects

Subjects / Keywords:
Safety communication
Public relations process model
Situational theory of publics
Theory of reasoned action
Organizational activism
Dissertations, Academic -- Mass Communications -- Masters -- USF   ( lcsh )
Genre:
non-fiction   ( marcgt )

Notes

Abstract:
ABSTRACT: This study explored the effect of public relations message strategies on beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of individuals regarding boater safety. An experiment was conducted using seven safety messages. Specifically, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action and J.E. Grunig's (1997) situational theory of publics were used to examine the communication effects of message strategies proposed by Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model. The findings of this study support the predictions of the theory of reasoned action-that salient beliefs predict attitude toward behavior and attitude toward behavior and subjective norm predict behavioral intent. Of the three attitude items measured-attitude toward message, attitude toward issue, and attitude toward organization-salient beliefs had the greatest effect on the attitude toward issue measure. Subjective norm was shown to be the stronger predictor of the three attitude items. In addition, support was found for the predictions of the situational theory of publics. The independent variables-problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement-were found to predict information seeking behaviors. However, the use of public relations message strategies in boater safety communication produced minimal effects on the same variables. It was determined that the power strategies, threat and punishment and promise and reward, would be most effective when communicating to a passive public such as the sample tested in this study. This study is significant to public relations literature because it examined how active boaters and non-boaters perceive safety messages. There appeared to be no research on the use of safe boating messages. Thus, there was no research on how public relations messages about boater safety affect boaters' attitudes, awareness, and behavioral intentions prior to the implementation of this study. Determining effective boater safety messages will help to reduce boater accidents, injuries, and fatalities in years to come (U.S. Coast Guard, 2009), making this study both necessary and original.
Thesis:
Thesis (MA)--University of South Florida, 2010.
Bibliography:
Includes bibliographical references.
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Mode of access: World Wide Web.
System Details:
System requirements: World Wide Web browser and PDF reader.
Statement of Responsibility:
by Emily Guilfoil.
General Note:
Title from PDF of title page.
General Note:
Document formatted into pages; contains X pages.

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University of South Florida
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usfldc doi - E14-SFE0004712
usfldc handle - e14.4712
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SFS0028019:00001


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Nautical Knowledge : An Experimental Analysis of the Influence of P ublic Relations Strategies in Safe Boating Communication by Emily N. Guilfoil A thesis submitted in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts School of Mass Communications College of Arts and Sciences University of South Florida Major Professor: Kelly Page Werder, Ph.D. Scott Liu, Ph.D. Michael Mit rook, Ph.D. Date of Approval: November 3 2010 Keywords: s afety communi cation public relations process model situational theory of publics, theory of reasoned a ction organizational activism Copyright 2010, Emily N. Guilfoil

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Dedication I dedicate this thesis in loving memory o f a friend lost at sea. One who grew up on the water, was educated i n boater sa fety, and determined to spend all of his time help ing friends and rel atives do what they love. During my first discussions regarding the implementatio n of this thesis, I knew that you would be the driving force to ac hieve this substantial and distinctive task. This is for you, not because you did so mething wrong that day, but as a reminder of your courage, compassion, leadership, and strength in your time of strife. Each day I am reminded of these characteristics that canno t escape yo u or your name. So, I thank you.

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Acknowledgements This thesis is an accumulation of countless hours of study in the School of Mass Communications at the University of South Florida. Thank you to the facult y, staff, and administration that provided me with both educational and professional opportunities; specifically I would like to thank the individuals instrumental in the timely completion of this thesis. Dr. Werder, thank you for assisting me during this process and especially for sharing your research interests with me. I have learned so much from you and am thankful to have worked with someone so caring about students' education and the development of our field of study. Dr. Liu and Dr. Mitrook, thank you for sharing your time an d quanti tative expertise with me. T hank you Dr. Mitrook and Dr. Wilber for allowing me to use your cla ss time to conduct my research. Thank you to all of the students in your classes who participated in my study. To Lauren, your friendship, support, and a ssistance has helped me tremendously. Th ank you for pushing me to teach while completing my academics, and for all of your proofreading required by this thesis To Matt, than k you for being patient with me throughout my studies, and especially during the rigors of thesis writing. I truly appreciate all that you have done for me. Also, thank you to all of my friends for your encouragement. Last and certainly not least, I want to thank my f amily: Dad, thank you for providing me with the opportunities and intellect t o fulfill my academic goals and for

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always being on my team! Mom, thank you for your words of wisdom and compassion, and of course for your proofreading. Mom a nd dad you have pr ovided me with love and support and have ultimately paved the way for my future. I cannot thank you enough! To Jessica and Alex, you are not only my sisters but also my best friends. I have learned so much from both of you, and I cannot expres s my thankfulness to have you in my life. To Jes and Sergio, I am so thankfu l to have Isabella as my niece. I worked diligently to model the product ion of this thesis off of your determination and dedication to Belle. This thesis would not be possible wit hout the many people that have impacted my life during my studies. Thank you to everyone mentioned and of course to those not mentioned as well.

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! Table of Contents List of Tables iii List of Figures v Abstract v i Chapter One: Introduction 1 Background 2 Theoretical Basis 4 Purpose 6 Outline 8 Chap ter Two : Literature Review 10 Public Relations Strategies 15 Informative Strategy 21 Facilitative Strategy 22 Persuasive Strategy 22 Promise and Reward Strategy 23 Threat and Punishment Strategy 23 Bargaining Strategy 24 Cooperative Problem Solving Strategy 24 Theory of Reasoned Action 25 Situational Theory of Publics 29 Hypotheses 34 Chapter Three : Method ology 36 Design of Study 38 Data Collection for Experiment 39 Instrumentation 40 Manipulation Check for Strategy Type 47 Experiment Pretest 50 Instrumentation 50 Results 51 Data Analysis Procedure 51 Chapter Four : Results 53 Preliminary Data Analysis 54 Hypotheses R elated to the Theory of Reasoned Actio n 58 Hypothesis 1 60

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! "" Hypothesis 2 62 Proposition 2.1 63 Proposition 2.2 64 Hypotheses Related to the Situational Theory of Publics 68 Hypothesis 3 70 Hypothesis 4 71 Proposition 4.1 72 Proposition 4.2 73 Chapter Five : Discussion 76 Chapter Six : Conclusion s 87 Areas for Further Research 89 Limitations of the Stud y 90 References 93 Appendices Appendix A: Experiment Script 98 Appendix B: Manipulation Check Instrument 102 Appendix C: Informative Treatment 104 Appendix D: Facilitat ive Treatment 106 Appendix E: Persuasive Treatment 108 Appendix F: Promise and Reward Treatment 110 Appendix G: Threat and Punishment Treatment 112 A ppendix H: Cooperative Problem Solving Treatment 114 Appendix I: Strategy Type Control Treatment 116 Appendix J: Instrument 118

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! """ List of Tables Table 1 Shared Text for Treatments 41 Table 2 Text for Message Strategy Type Control Treatment 42 Table 3 Operationalization of Message Treatments 4 2 Table 4 Correct Responses for Manipulation Check Across 48 Treatments Table 5 Message Frequency and Valid Percent 54 Table 6 Cronbach's Alpha for Multiple Item Indexes 55 Table 7 Correlations Between Independent and Depende nt Variables 59 of the Theory of Reasoned Action Table 8 Beliefs Predicting Attitude Variables 60 Table 9 Regression Model for Bel ief s Predicting Attitude Toward 61 Message Table 10 Regression Model for Bel iefs Predicting Attitude Toward 61 Organization Table 11 Regression Model for Beliefs Predicting Attitude Toward 61 Is sue Table 12 Beliefs Predicting Subjective Norm Variables 61 Table 13 Regression Model for B eliefs on Subjective Norm Item 1 62 Table 14 R egression Model for Beliefs on S ubjective Norm Item 2 62 Table 15 Regression Model for Subjective Norms and Attitudes 62 Predicting Information Seeking Behavior Table 16 Regression Model for Subjective Norms Predicting 63 Behavioral Intent

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! "# Table 17 Means and Standard Deviations for Attitudes Across 64 Promise and Reward and Threat and Punishment Messages Table 18 Means and Standard Deviations for Message Type Across 65 Attitude Toward Message Table 19 ANOVA for Message Type Across Attitude Toward Message 65 Table 20 Means and Standard Deviations for Message Type Across 66 Att itude Toward Issue Table 21 ANOVA for Message Type Across Attitude Toward Issue 66 Table 22 Means and Standard Deviations for Message Type Across 67 Attitude Toward Organization Table 23 ANOVA for Message Type Across Attitude Toward 67 Organization Table 24 Correlations Between Independent and Dependent Variables 69 of the Situational Theory of Publics Table 25 Independent Variables Predicting Information Seeking 70 Behavior Table 26 Regression Model for Situational Theory of Publics Variables 71 T able 27 Means and Standard Deviations for Problem Recognition 72 Item One Across Treatments Table 28 Means and Standard Deviations for Information Seeking 73 Behavior Across Treatments Table 29 Means and Standard Deviations for Problem Recognitio n 74 Measures Across Treatments

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! # List of Figures Figure 1 P ublic Relations Process M odel 18 Figure 2 Matrix for the Analysis of P ublic Relations S ymbols 20 Figure 3 Theory of Reasoned A ctio n 26

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! #" Abstract This study explored the ef fect of public relations message strategies on beliefs, attitudes, and beha vioral intentions of individuals regarding boater safety. An experim ent was conducted using seven saf ety messages. Specifically, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action and J.E. Grunig's (1997) si tuational theory of publics were used to examine the communication e ffects of message strategies pr oposed by Hazle ton and Long's (198 8) public relations process model. The fin dings of this study support the predictions of the theory of reasoned action that salient beliefs predict attitude toward behavior and attitude toward behavior and subjectiv e norm predict behavioral intent. Of th e three attitude items measured attitude tow ard message, attitude toward issue, and attitude toward organization salient beliefs had the greatest effect on the attitude towa rd issue measure. S ubjective norm was shown to be the stronger predictor of the three attitude items. In addition, s upport was found for the predictions of the situational t heory of publics. T he independent variables problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement were found to predict information seeking behaviors. H owever, the use of public relations message strategies in boater safety communication produced minimal effects on the same variables. It was determined that the power strategies, threat and punishm ent and promise a nd reward, would be most effective when co mmunicating to a passive public s uch as the sample tested in this study.

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! #"" This study is significant to public relation s literature because it examined how active boaters and non boaters perceiv e safety messages. There appeared to be n o research on the use of safe boating messages Thus, there was no research on how public relations mes sages about boater safety affect boaters' attitudes, awaren ess, and behavioral intentions prior to th e implementation of this study. Determining effective boater safety messages will help to reduce boater accidents, injuries, and fatalities in years t o come (U.S. Coast Guard, 2009), making this s t udy both necessary and origin al.

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! 1 C hapter One Introduction Accor ding to a U.S. Coast Guard report, deaths from boating accidents a re becoming mo re common in the United States. Spec i fically 4,730 a ccidents occurred in 2009 resulting in 3,358 injuries and 736 boating fatalitie s In addition, recreational boaters caused more than $36 million in propert y damage. P recau tionary m easures can redu ce accident statistics Since 86 percent of boating death s occurred on boats where the operator had not receiv ed boating safety instruction, b oating accident attorney Joseph Ma us (2009) insists that states should offer boating safety courses and educational material at little or no cost T h e U.S. Coast Guard (2009) argues however, that few boaters take advantage of t he re sources availab le to them Boater safety has become an incr easingly salient topic. S tates and safety advocacy organizations disseminate boater safety information in a continual effort to incr ease awareness and reduc e boating accidents. T hese organizations aim t o identify useful communication strategies that may help create or enhance positive attitudes about boating safety among boat owners and operators. R esearch in public relations is limited on the subject of boate r safety messages, yet there is a wealth of scholarly literature that support s the notion that di fferent message strategies produce different effects on receivers of those messages. T he purpose of this study is to replicate and extend the current understanding of public relations message strategy effect s by examining the role of message str ategies on dependent variables

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! 2 affecting individuals behaviors. This study asks whether public relations message strategies will influence problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement In addition, it seeks to determine the effectiveness of each strategy in producing positive beliefs, attitudes and behavioral intentions. Back ground Creating awareness and transfor ming behaviors related to boater safety has become so vital that organizations have been creat ed speci fically to promote boater safety and increase support for this issue The National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) and the U.S. Coast Guard are prominen t national safety organizations that produce safety related messages directed at boaters. T h e Natio nal Safe Boating Council was organized in 1958 to increase the safety of recreational boating th rough educat ion and outreach. It produces an annual safe boati ng awareness campaign and provides safe boating materials, resources, and tools to recreational boate rs and the general public. The NSBC has grown i n the United States and Canada, and currently has a membership of over 330 organizations, 65 percent of which are nonprofit organizations. Organizations are required to pay m embership fee s ranging from $50 to over $1,000 which allow the NSBC to continually develop and produce its saf e bo ating initiatives (NSBC, 2010) In May 2010 the NSBC launched its Wear It lif e jacket campaign to spread awareness that nearly 90 percent of boating accident victims will drown if not wearing a life jacke t. It also introduced th e belt pack life jacket that can be conveniently worn around an individual's waist.

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! 3 I n its 2010 2014 strategi c plan, the NSBC's goals focus on increasing boat ing safety education resources and train ing programs Its primary objective is to expand and enhance effective safe boating outreach. The NSBC has a vision to grow into the premier coalition to increase boating safety on our nation's waterways (NSBC, 2010). The Florida Fish and Wildlife Commi ssion (FWC), a member of the NSBC, was created in July 1999 as the result of a constitutional amendment approved in the 1998 General Election. The Florida Legi slature combined the staff and c ommissioner s of the former Marine Fisheries Com mission, and the e mployees and c ommissioners of the former Game and Fresh Water Fish Commission. Within five years of the amendment's pas s age the FWC established a n internal structu re emphasizing recreational boating as a component of its other state mandated initiatives. It seeks to give the general public decision making capabilities and works with volunteers, landowners, anglers, hunters, wildlife viewers, boaters, scientists, and other government agencies to spread awarenes s about safety related topics (FWC, 2010) As a result of these efforts, the FWC is able to gather and evaluate statewide boating accident statistics in an effort to ide ntify problem areas and trends (FWC, 2010). This data become the basis for the development of projects to improve boater awareness, minimize accidents, and help make waterways safe. Th e United States Coast Guard, a military maritime service within the Department of the Homeland Security has a similar mission to f oster awareness regarding the well being of individuals and the environment Develop ed in 1789 and originally called the United States Lighthouse Service, the U.S. Coast Guard's core role is to protect the

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! 4 public, the environment, and United States econo mic and security interests in any maritime region in which those interests may be at risk" (U.S. Coast Guard, 2010). The U.S. Coast Guard provides military, humanitaria n, and civilian law enforcement benefits to the American public. The Coast Guard's mes sage strategies ar e driven by its fundamental goal to "eliminate deaths, injuries, and property damage associated with maritime transportation, fishing, and recreational boating" (U.S. Coast Guard, 2010). All the organizations discussed have taken on an i ncreasingly activist role in their attempts to create positive attitud es about boater safety, which in turn might reduce the number of boating fatalities each year Organizations create communication strategie s based on their spec i fic o bjectives. They attempt to determine which techniques will r each their target audiences and which messages will produce positive behavioral change C reating effective messages to reach strategically important audiences is a critica l function of public relations (Hallahan, 2000), and f ew public relations studies have examined safe boating communication. Theoretical Basis "Theoretical models are, by definition, abstractions of reality. However, models facilitate organization of seemingly unrelated events while stimulating th e transfer of theo ry to practice" (Hazleton, Cupach, & Canary, 1987, p. 5). The application of theoretical perspectives has lead to the identification of ca use effect relationships, which has contributed to the practical and releva nt theoretical foundation of public relations scholarship Th us, this study brings together several theoretical perspectives in an attempt to better understand boater safety messaging.

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! 5 First, Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model, a theoret ical framework for an alyzing public relations messages, will be used to define public relations as goal oriented, strategic communications. "Public relations goals are a consequence of organizational goals and provide the impetus for organizational goal achievement through com munications" (Werder, 2005, p. 220). Goals are translated into message strategies which organizations use to reach intended audiences. The more vital an environment is to an organization, the more the organization's strategic goals will reflect the enviro nment (Hazleton 1993). Next, Fishbein and Ajzen's ( 1975) theory of reasoned action will explain individuals' beliefs, attitudes, and behaviors regarding public relations message strategies. Because humans are rational beings that systematically process information provided to them, t he theory assumes that attitude and behavior are related. Moreover, behavioral intentions are the single b est predictor of one's behavior and can be determined by assessing an individual's subjective norm (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). This theoretical framework concludes that in most cases, individuals will perform behaviors they find popular with others and will refrain from behaviors they regard as unpopular or unfavorable with others (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). Individuals' attitudes and beliefs about intended behaviors which have been found to be associated with message ex posure and message content, have been found to predict actual behavior Last, J. E. Grunig's (1997 ) situational theory of publics attempts to explain how, why and when individuals communicate with organizations Communication behaviors of targeted audienc es are examined by measuring how members of publics perceive situations in which they are affected by organizational consequences (J.E. Grunig &

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! 6 Hunt, 1984). Attributes of publics that predict whether a public will actively or passively engage in communica tion behaviors include problem recogni tion, constraint recogni tion, and level of involvement. These attributes act as dependent variables necessary in determining effective strategies used in public relations. Purpose This study seeks to contribute to theory driven research in public relation s by examining the influence of message strategies on individuals beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions regarding boater safety. Though there is little scholarly literature on boater s afety communication in any form including content found on the Internet there is a rich col lection of scholarship relating to how and why individuals communicate, and what motivating factor s contribute to organizational effectiveness through communication. Spec ifically, Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action and J.E. Grunig's (1997) situational theory of publics are used in this study t o assess h ow receiver variables are affected by boat er safety messages. First, Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model articulates a taxonomy of strategies organizations use to communicate with publics. The model proposes seven strategies : informative, persuasive, facilitative, promise an d reward, threat and punishment, cooperative problem solving, and bargaining. This study will focus on six of Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations message strategies to determine which strategic frame is most effective in producing positive behavior al intentions in the context of boating safety messages.

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! 7 Next t his study seeks to emphasize how communication affects people at an individual level in terms of their beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intent Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action will be used as the theoretical framework to examine these effects in the specific context of boater safety messaging. Third, th is study attempts to add to the robust body of knowledge on J.E. Grunig's (1997) situational theory of p ublics, contributing to literature regarding the importance of problem recognition, level of involvement, and constraint recognition in the information seeking and information processing behavior of publics. Werder (2003) stud ied the influence of the public relations message strategies on individuals' beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions regarding an organization's response to activism. Werder (2006) also studied the influence of Hazleton and Long's (1988) message stra tegies on attributes of publics including problem recognition, level of involvement, constraint recognition, and goal compatibility when used by an organization responding to acti vism. Schuch (2007) replicated and extended Werder's (2003, 2006) s tudies b y testing the influence of the seven publ ic relations message strategies, reframed as activist message strategies, on receiver variab les. This study attempts to replicate and extend Werder ( 2003 2006) and Schuch's (2007) studies, while deepening understa nding of Hazleton's (1988) message strategies. It seeks to analyze which strategy is more likely to positively influence the beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral in tentions of individuals regarding boater safety As such, this study tests the following hypotheses: H1 : Salient beliefs predict attitude toward behavior. H2 : Attitude toward behavior and subjective norm regarding behavior

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! 8 predict behavioral intention. P2 .1 Promise and reward strategies will produce m ore positive attitudes than t hreat and punishment strategies P2. 2 Message strategies will have a greater influence on attitude toward message than on attitude toward issue or attitude toward organization. H3 : Problem recogni tion, constraint recognition an d level of involvement influence information seeking behavior in publics. H4 : The use of message strategies in boater safety communication will influence problem recogni tion, constraint recognition, and level of involvement. P4 .1: Threat and punishment str ategies will have the strongest effect on information seeking behavior. P4 .2: Facili tative and cooperative problem s olving strategies will have the greatest influence on problem recognition. Outline Chapter two provides a more thorough examination of literature on organizations' public relations approaches to message strategies. This study takes a theory driven approach, analyzing Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action, and J.E. Grunig's (1997) situational theory of publics. This study focus es on six of the seven public relati ons message strategies (Hazleton & Long, 1988) omitting bargaining due to the inability of the study to provide feedback from participants. By definition the bargaining strategy is most appropriate for an interpersonal commun ication context. Chapter four ex plains this study's methodology and describes the procedure s used to collect and analyze data.

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! 9 An experiment was conducted using undergraduate students at a large Southeastern university as its sample. Chapter five presents the results of part icipants' responses to p ublic relations message strategies. Chapter six provides an in depth analysis o f the results. Last, chapter seven determines implications for public relations practice relating to theoretical approaches analyzed. Study limitations, and areas of focus for future research will also be discusse d.

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! 10 Chapter Two Literature Review The National Safe Boating Council (NSBC) and the United States Coast Guard are two prominent organizations that distribute safe boating communication. They have taken a n increasingly activist role in creating positive attitudes about boater safety, which in turn might reduce the number of boatin g injuries and fatalities each yea r. First, Holtzhausen (2000 ) argues that a function of public relations includes takin g on the role of activist within an organization Since organizations such as the NSBC and the U.S. Coast Guard attempt to disseminate safety information in a continual effort to create awareness, activism and the role of an organizational activist will be defined Second, a discussion regarding the shift from traditional print to online media will d etermine which mediums are effective fo r distributing strategic boater safety material. Next, a discussion regarding content will be explained the most popular content in boater safety communication being how to guides to boating,' and boating equipment use.' Last, in an attempt to better un derstand boater safety messaging, three theoretical perspectives will be discussed. Specifically, Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action and J. E. Grunig's (1997 ) sit uational theory of publics will frame hypotheses regarding both active boaters and non boaters' attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions about safe boating. Holtzhausen (2000) insists that public relations practitioners should increase participation in activism becau se it is advantageous for the public relations pro fession as

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! 11 well as beneficial to the organization and its publics. Her postmodern v iew suggests that public relations practitioners will act as o rga nizational activists to facilitate social change ( Holtzhau sen & Voto, 2002). For example, g overnment agencies along with safety advocacy groups (as discussed in chapter one) were develo ped to implement social programs for the general public. These safety focused organizations are highly involved, credi ble communicators. From Holtzhausen and Voto's perspective (2002), these groups may be viewed as activis t organizations due to their on going mission of issue advocacy and social revision. Practitioners display organizational activism throu gh situational et hical decision making and a desi re for change (Holtzhausen & Voto, 2002). According to the postmodern view, society is shaped through unseen power networks that control a n individual through social institutions, discourses, and practices ( J.E Grunig et al., 2007). "Public relations practitioners, as part of for and non profit institutions, not only form part of these unseen power networks but actively help sustai n them" ( Holtzhausen, 2000; Holtzhausen & Voto, 2002; J.E. Grunig et al., 2007, p. 365 ). Hol tzhausen (2000) argues that the best way to avoid becoming part of the power grid that promotes power elites is to act as a soc ial and organizational activist P ublic relations practitioners have the opportun ity to fulfill leadership responsibilities in so cial change movements, becoming social activists th emselves ( J.E Grunig et al., 2007) Activists join small groups based on t heir motivation and dedication towards a topic of interest (Holtzha usen & Voto 2002 ). A n activist public represent s two or more individuals who organ ize to influence another public or publics through action t hat may include education, compromise, persuasio n, pressure tactics, and force to reach goals

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! 12 for its political, social, or economic cause ( J.E. G r unig, 1992; L. A. Grunig, J.E. Grunig, & Dozier, 2002). These groups are uniquely comprised and offer a hearty wealth of knowledge on a respective topic More important activist groups are loyal to a cause rather than to a partic ular organization (Holtzhausen & Voto, 2002). A ctivist groups have two primary func tions: t o rectify con ditions recognized by the group and to maintain the organized grou p establishment (Werder, 2005). Activists' goals are achieved through strategic communication, including communicating a desired posi tion on a topic, facilitating further discussion, and soliciting others to become active in the intended cause (Werder, 200 6). Moreover, t he practitioner as organizational activist will serve as a conscience in the organization by resisting dominant powe r structures and making beneficial decisions in a particular situation (Holtzhause n & Voto, 2002). In her ( 2006 ) study, Werder examined the relationship between message variables and receiver variables and develop ed message strategies identified by Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relat ions pro cess model. Werder (2006) tested t he seven public relations strategies derived from the process model to examine their influence on the attributes of publics regarding an organization responding to activism. P ublic relations literature on activism often focuses on how organizations should respond when targeted by activist groups rather than how audiences may respond when ta rgeted by activist groups (Werder, 2003, 2006) As a result, there is minimal research in public relations concerning message effect s on the receiver of strategic messages However, S c huch's (2007) examination of mes sage strategy influence on variables related to the receiver of activist communication b ro ke ground in this specific area of

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! 13 stud y. Findings indicated that activist organizations would be most successful using persuasive and coer cive strategies, (later re ferred to as power strategies). Therefore activists may use their issue and the outcome of the issue to persuade publics to act in a guided manner (Schuch, 2007). In regards to boater safety, an organization should attempt to facilitate change by providing boaters with the information, motivation, and skills to practice safety as pa rt of their boating activities. Postmodernists' intent in public relations is to describe and explain a specific type of practitioner behavior; therefore, the role of the organizational activist in this study includes de termining effective mediums to dist ribute boater safety communication and examining communication material with the intent of design ing effective boater safety m essaging. Activist organizations seek to develop strategic communications; however, public relations m essages have evolved, shifting with the electronic data wave from print to online media. Print materials including books, newspapers, pamphlets, and brochures are not disseminated as frequently compared to material found by Internet searches (Molyneaux, O'Donnell, & Gibson, 2009). For example, YouTube was established in 2005 and now provides access to approximately 1,490 videos for searches using t he key words, "boater safety" (r etrieved August 10, 2010). Web site s offer online boater safety courses in place of classroom learning to provide a hassle free, efficient and flexible learning experience. Greenfield (2009) studied the effects of various types of media on intelligence and learning ability and determined that the use of every medium develops some cognitive skills at the sacrifice of others. Internet usage h as lead to the "widespread and

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! 14 sophisticated development of visual spat ial skills" (Carr, 2010, p. 5). Carr (2010) argues, however, that the development of visual spatial skills weakens individuals' capacity for deep processing incl uding knowledge acquisit ion, inductive analysis, critical thinking, imagination, and reflection. Greenfield's (2009) argument suggests that there are both strengths and weaknesses associated with the World Wide Web, depending on how it is utilized by it s publics and their informa tion seeking habits. "T he hallmark of the competent communicator is behavioral flexibil ity" (Hazleton, et al. 1987, p. 57). C ommunication is situational; therefore, c ommunicators should adapt messages to audiences to produce intended outcomes (Werder, 200 6). While some criticize Internet usage for teaching boating safety, others recommend Internet use for its accessibility and wealth of knowledge available to anyone. Regardless of media utilized, the most popular material created by organizations producin g boater safety material remains h ow to guides to boa ting and boati ng equipment use (Guilfoil, 2009). How to guides to boating include step by step processes demonstrative of some sort of action on the water. Such processes include launchin g a vessel in water, mooring the vessel to a dock or shoreline, driving the vessel, and learning proactive skills used while boating. Protecting one self and passengers during dangerous circumstances an d caring for the environment are also prominent in how to guides (U.S. Coast Guard, 2010). Boating equipment use focuses on physical items required by law inside the vessel. These items include, but are not limited to, life vests, flares, fire extinguisher, flashlights and lights wired in the boat, whistles or bells, boating paddles, ropes and lines,

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! 15 anchors, and boating registration and licenses. Food and water for passengers is also considered vital elements of boating equipment. Equipment required by law is predominantly used to assist boaters during times o f distress. For example, the U.S. Coast Guard directs boaters to use equipment in the following ways : f lares are used to gain attention, whistles produce sound for notification of danger or when searching for lost passengers, boating paddles provide adequa te rowing power during boat motor failures and can be used as a weapon, and anchors maintain a boat's coordinate p osition until safe conditions are met. Research conducted by Forgas (1983), argues that highly competent communicators will be more sensitive than low competent communicators in their perceptions of situational dimensions of complia nce gaining episodes (Hazleton, et al., 1987) In addition, "communication is the ethical and legitimate means for achieving goals which require social cooperation" ( Hazleton, 1993, p. 88). Activist organizations maintain a willingness to fulfill a societ al duty; therefore, t he public's coo peration is vital to reach activists' organizational goals. A central function of public relations is creating effective messages t o reach strategically important audiences (Hallahan, 2000). Public Relations Strategies Hazleton and Long (1988) define public relations as a "communication function of management through which organizations adapt to, alter, maintain, or adapt to their en vironment for the purpose of achieving organizational goals" (p. 88). This definition emphasizes communicatio n, specifically the practice of two way communication with mutual understanding across the organization. It invokes the idea that not only may a ta rgeted audience change its attitudes and beha vioral intentions, but the organization may

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! 16 also make changes based on the needs of its environment. Th e primary foci of th is pub lic relations definition, based in gener al systems theory, are communications, goals, and the organization's ability to be multidisciplinary. It is not context specific, and offers se veral simultaneous relationships among variables (Hazleton, 1992 ). "The development of theory is largely dependent upon the conceptual development of co nstructs that adequately reflect the richness and complexity of public relations practice" (Hazleton, 1992, p. 33). The promoti on of organizational change within a whole system becomes import ant in the general s ystems theory perspective and in Hazleton an d Long's (1988) public relations process model (Hazleton, 1993). At a macroscopic level considering the environment as the super system t he public relations model (see Figure 1) invokes a theoretical shift to practice, and is often described as a serie s of events (Hazleton, 1993). T he environment bec omes th e super system with three subsystems: (1) input of public relations, (2) transformation, and (3) output processe s. Specifically, the three subsystems are the organization (input) communication (transfo rmation) and audience (output) The organization al subsystem creates and gives input from the environment to the system. Input interacts with organizational goals, structure, resources, and management philosophy (Hazleton & Long, 1988) Goals are a promi nent concept for public relations because they direct behavior and create limitations in decision processes. Hazleton (1992) argues that it is likely that interdependence between organization and environment may be purposely r elated to organizational goals These goals act as references to analyze output. "Public relations goals can be expressed in terms of maintenance or change of the organization or the environment" (Hazleton, 1992, p. 41). Therefore, the more vital an

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! 17 environment is to an organization, t he more organizational goals will involve the environment. Transformation of inputs occurs during the pu blic relations decision process and includes research and analysis, problem identification, and solutio n identification (Hazleton et al., 1987 ). Transfo rmation begins with monitoring the environment and the organization, and comparing each with organizational goals (Hazleton, 1992) The communication subsystem provides a boundary spanning function among the environment, organization, and targe t audience subsystems (Hazleton et al., 1987; Hazleton, 1992). This process is selective in that "organizational goals, perceived interdependence with dimensions of the environment, and ability to process information are likely to influence the selection of inputs" ( Hazleton, 1992, p. 40). M essages must take a tangible form before comm unicated, thus communication outputs are the messages to which audiences are exposed (Hazleton, 1992, p. 43). During this step, communication goals, objectives, and campaigns come to lif e. Message output contains physical, psychological, and sociological properties (Hazleton, 1992). Physically, messages are percei ved because they are tangible. The receiver of the message places meaning on the message, hence the psychological property. Soc ially, the most important referents potential sources including opinion leaders, family, and work groups influence individual message evaluation processes (Hazleton et al., 1987). There are symbolic and semantic markers that may indicate which public relat ions strategies are used to reach a targeted audience (Hazleton, 1992). Messag es to targeted audience s located in internal and external environments act as the output.

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! 18 Figure 1 Public Relations Process Model (Werder, 2005; adapted from Hazleton & Long, 1988) "Target audience output results in environmental and organizational maintenance, adapt ation, or alteration" (Hazleton et al., 1987, p. 12). T his process has the ability to a ffect b ehaviors, which can impact structural c ha nge within an organization. It is circular Input 1. Organizational goals 2. Structure 3. Resources 4. Management philosophy Transformation PR decision process 1. Problem identification 2. Research and analysis 3. Resources 4. Solutions Output PR program 1. PR goals 2. Solution characteristics 3. Audience analysis 4. Strategy 5. Action Organizational Subsystem Input Message stimuli Transformation Audience process 1. Individual/ group states 2. Influence states Output Results 1. Maintenance a. cognitive b. behavioral 2. Change a. cognitive b. behavioral Target Audience Subsystem Dimensions 1. Legal/Political 2. Social 3. Economic 4. Technical 5. Competitive Environmental Supersystem Input PR program Transformation Communication process 1. Encoding 2. Delivery Output Message stimuli 1. Physiological 2. Psychological 3. Sociological Communication Subsystem

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! 19 in that its output gets pushed back through the environment super system and the sub system, contin ually influencing public relations activities. De fined microscopically, the three subsys tems input transformatio n, and audience will have their own cycles (Hazleton & Long, 1988). "Organizations rely on symbols to accomplish org anizational goals applicable to public relations" (Hazleton, 1993, p. 97). Public relations communication consists of one or more symbols en coded as a message by one party and decoded by another (Hazleton, 1993). Symbols are often used as organizational resources; thus, in order to be effective, both parties must understand the use of symbols in communication. Hazleton (1992) developed a matr ix for the analysis of public relations messages using symbols (see Figure 2). The left side of the matrix consists of three concepts content, structure, and function. These concepts may function independently, but are present at every point in the communi cation process (Hazleton, 1993). As referenced, messages contain physical, psychological, and sociological properties, and must take a tangible form before they can be communicated. The top of the matrix contains the physical, psychological, and sociologi cal levels of abstractions of the audience. At the psychological level, Hazleton (1992) identified six functions of messages that represent the goals of public relations regarding the impact messages have on audiences and the meaning of messages. The func tions represent general message and persuasion strategies facilitate, inform, persuade, coerce, bargain, and solve problems. Facilitate, inform, persuade, and coerce were borrowed from social change literature and represent strategies for planned change (Zaltman & Duncan, 1977). The remaining two

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! 20 functions, bargaining and solving problems, stem from J.E. Grunig's (1992) excellen ce theory. Figure 2. Matrix for the Analysis of P ublic Relations S ymbols (Werder, 2005; adapted from Hazleton, 1993) Content Structure Function Physical graphic-visual oral-aural tactile olfactory taste intensity contrast spatial order chronological order A.Attributions to Symbols repeat contradict substitute complement accent verify B.Attributions to Communicators relationship status affect Psychological A.Reference denotative connotative B.Style logical interesting emotional assertive face-preserving concise ambiguous factual A.Or ganic spatial chronological types B.Psychological cause/effect problem/solution climax anti-climax facilitate inform coerce bargain solve problems persuade Sociological rhetorical visions fantasy themes symbolic cues fantasy types sagas A.Distribution network size network shape symmetry relationship B.Frequency activity topic/symbol A.T ask Performance problem identification solution identification behavior regulation information exchange B.Group Maintenance socialization consciousness raising conflict resolution leadership

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! 21 From these six psychological functions, and based off of general systems theory, Hazleton (1992) developed a taxonomy of seven public relations strategies organizations use when communicating with publics. Similar to his definition of public relations, Hazleton's (1988) public relations mode l focuses on achieving goals using communication strategies. These goals relate to the meaning of messages determined by a single individual and the impacts that the messages produce (Hazleton, 1993). The seven strategies include : informative; facilitative; persuasive; promise and rewa rd; threat and punishment; bargaining; and cooperative problem sol ving. Strategy selection is determined by an organization's perception of the audience with which it is communic ating at a given time (Hazle ton, 1992). Each strategy has unique characteristics, and can be used more or less frequently depending on the orga n ization's motives (Page & Hazle ton, 1999). Below is an explanation of the seven public relations strategies (fro m Hazlet on, 1993; Page & Hazleton, 1999; Werder, 2003, 2005, 2006). The informative strategy is based on the presentation of neutral, unbiased f acts. Informative messages maintain neutral language, do not draw conclusions, and use natural patterns of organization to assist comprehension. The strategy assumes a rational, motivated audience and presumes that the audience will come to the appropriate conclusions. In addition, this strategy may co nfer alternative solutions to issues (Hazleton, 1993 ; Werder, 2006 ). "Research indicates that time on task and frequency of exposure to messages are positively related to learning" (Werder, 2006, p. 339). Th us, informative strategies may be used to build a foundation for future learning, create awareness of a problem, and esta blish that the problem can be solved. They are particularly useful when behavioral

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! 22 change within a target public does not have to occur quickly. Alone, howev er, an informative strategy may not be effective when an organization does not have the resources to maintain involvement long term (Zaltman & Duncan, 1977). The facilitative strategy provides reso urces to the audience, of ten becoming an enabler for the targeted audience to ac t in ways it has already been programmed to act Resources provided might be tangible or intangible, constituting a cognitive structure needed to reach a particular goal, or accomplish an intended action (Hazleton 1993). According to Werder (2006), facilitative strategies are most effective when used with a program that creates awareness among a public and offers the public availability for assistance ( p. 340). For example, an organization is using the facilitativ e strategy when it offers itself as a resource for its public to seek information. Thus, "All the information that you need can be found on our Web site," is an example of the facilitative strategy in use. The persuasive strategy pr ovides for a biased deli very of information often caused by a selective presentation of information "P ersuasion is a symbolic process in which communicators try to convince individuals to change their attitudes and behaviors regarding an issue through the transmission of a messa ge in an atmosphere of free choice" ( Perloff, 2008, p. 17). This strategy appeals to individuals' values and presumes that the audience lacks motivatio n or is resistant. The persuasive strategy provides for a call to action either implicitly or overtly an d is often effective when communicating a message that involves time constraints (Werder, 2006) Zaltman and Duncan (1977) argue that persuasive strategies are utilized when a problem is not recognized or considered im portant by a public, or when involvement is

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! 23 low. W hen a specific solution does no t seem e ffective persuasive strategies are implemented (Werder, 2006). P romise and reward and threat and punishment strategies are components of Hazle ton's power strategies, former ly known as coercive strategies (see Holtzhausen & Werder, 2009) Both promise and reward and threat and punishment strategies are considered to be coercive functions because they involve an exerc ise of power, and utilize promises or threats to gain compliance. Coercion is a technique used for forcing individuals to behave, as the coercer wants them to act. It proposes an exercise of power, and t hough it shares overlapping qualities with persuasion, Perloff (2008) argues that coercion is often perceiv ed as a more derogatory term due to the element of force contrived in the definition. Unlike persuasion, c oercion lacks the clause concerning free will to act. T hus, t he receiver acts contrary to their personal pre ferences (Perloff, 2008). Power (s ee Holtzhausen & Werder, 2009) is useful when a public's perceived need for change is low, when it is anticipated that resistance to change will occur, or when a problem's solution must be found and implemented rapidly (Werder, 2003 ). P ower strategies crea te the ability to gain compliance and assume resistance to compliance by intended publics. They assume that the source of the message controls an outcome that is important to the receiver of the message. The promise and reward power strategy uses positive coercion to gain compliance. It is linked to performance as the source of the message controls an outcome desired or liked by the receiver of the message. It includes a request for action and a related outcome that may or may not be directly related to an individual's action to carry out the request.

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! 24 The threat and punishment power strategy uses ne gative coercion as a compliance gaining technique. The source of the message controls an outcome fear ed or disliked by the receiver. This strategy may require a request for action directly or indirectly related to an individual's performance of the request. In essence, the source creates a negative message in order to coerce the intended audience to a ct or make a change in its attitudes, beliefs, or behavioral int ent ions. Schuch's (2007) analysis of activist message strategies on receivers found that the threat and punishment strategy had the greatest effect on goal compatibility. The sixth strategy bargai ning, reflects characteristics similar to J.E. Grunig's (19 92) two way asymmetrical model meaning that it uses contrasting symbols to define groups. Individuals are likely to have differing goals and d issimilar information, yet use a common me thod to reach an end. To simplify words suc h as "us" and "them" are used, and a n organized exchange of messages between two parties takes place (Hazleton, 1993 ). The bargaining strategy will not be tested in this study since it requires an organized exchange of messages between communicators Last, the cooperative problem solving strategy acts as an opposite to bargaining. Rather than using "us" and "them," to defi ne audiences, cooperate problem solving uses, "we." Werder (2006) argues that cooperation is effective when an organization and its target public feel a need for each other's participation in identification of problems and d evelopment of alternative solutions (p 341). The cooperative problem solving strategy facilitates the composition of a single, functional group with a desire to work on problems together, and f ind solutions together. (Hazleton, 1993; Werder, 2006).

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! 25 Though largely unexplored, Hazlet on and Long's public relations process model (1988) provides scholarship for the analysis of public relations message strategies. "A useful public relations model mus t facilitate partitioning of selected variables for closer investigation" (Hazleton et al. 1987, p. 5). T hus, t he taxonomy presents a visual conceptualization of the public relations behavior of organizations while maintaining communication as its centerp iece ( Hazle ton et al. 1987; Page & Hazle ton, 1999; Werder, 2005). Theory of Reasoned Action There is a need for campaigns to reduce the information deficit regarding boater safety messaging but information alone does not always change behavior. For example, Anderson (2000) conducted an experiment to test the impact of symbolic modeling and persuasive efficacy information on self efficacy beliefs and intentions to perform b reast self examination. He s tudied health communicators who model preventio n skills and instill in individuals the b elief that they can apply skills successfully under stressful conditions ( Anderson, 2000). Study findings indicated that efficacy expectations operate as cognitive mediators of intentions to adopt preventative healt h practices, and symbolic modeling enhanced perceived self efficacy and behavioral intentions. Thus, the greater the perceived efficacy, the greater are intentions to perform the behavior (Anderson, 2000). Anderson's (2000) study sheds light on the influen ce of skills training on targeted publics. "Training helps translate motivation into action, yet it is up to the public to determine how much effort to invest in refining skills" (Anderson, 2000, p. 111).

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! 26 Literature from social psychology suggests that Ajz en and Fishbein's (1980) theory of reasoned action is a practical model to measure individuals' attitudes, beliefs, and behavioral intentions as a prediction to actual behaviors (see Figure 3) Figure 3: Theory of Reasoned A ction ( Petty & Cacioppo, 1996; a dapted from Ajzen & Fishbein, 19 80) Humans are rational beings that systematically process informatio n provided to them. A calculation of the costs and benefits of engaging i n a particular action and careful thought process about how important othe rs will view the behavior under consideration takes place. Specifically (1) behavior is determined by intention to engage in behavior, (2) intention is determined by attitude toward the behavior and subjective norm, (3) attitude is determined by behaviora l beliefs and evaluations of the salient outcomes, and (4) subjective norm is determined by normative beliefs and motivation to comply with the most important referents (Fishbein & Ajzen, 2005). B ehavioral intentions are the single best predictor of one's behavior, and can be determined by assessing an individual's subjective norm (Pe tty & Cacioppo, 1996). I n most cases, individuals will perform behaviors they find popular with others and will refrain from behaviors they regard as unpopular or unfavorable with others (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996). Therefore, t hey will c oncede to social norm, which is the perception of the social pressures placed on the person to perform or not to perform the action. Human

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! 27 attitudes and behaviors are intertwined, and most individuals act consistently wi th their attitudes (Werder, 2006 ). Attitude consists of behavioral beliefs referring to the consequences of a behavior, and outcome evaluations or the evaluations of the consequences (Perloff, 2008) Attitude predicts behavi or; however, it does not always predict action. F or example, individuals wh o know that abstaining from the consumption of alcohol while boating will lead to positive outcomes should be more likely to quit consuming alcohol while boating Likewise, individu als who enjoy c onsuming alcohol while boating holding a n egative attitude toward abstaining should not n ecessarily plan to quit consuming alcohol Individuals maintaining neg ative attitudes towards abstaining from the consumption of alcohol may be lieve tha t if they quit consuming alcohol they will get seasick or temperamental two highly undesirable outcome s Subject ive norm also has two elements including normative beliefs and motivation to comply. First, n ormative beliefs refer to an individual's beliefs that other specific individuals or groups maintain about whether a behavior should or should not be performed. A decision to perform a behavior is, in essence, decided by the most popular or most esteemed r eferent. Second, motivation to comply explains the motivation for an individual to follow along with the popular or esteemed. Motivation to comply with a behav ior entails elaborate reasoning; however, motivation to comply to the most popular referent ideal ly deals with the individual's assumption that fitting in or becoming part of the popular group is necessary (Perloff, 2008) Next, behavioral i ntention is the extent to which an individual intends to perform a particular behavior. This includes the plan t o put the behavior into action. Positive

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! 28 attitudes and the subjective norm impact behavioral intent (Perloff, 2008) For example if there is a fa vorable attitude toward abstaining from the consumption of alcohol while operating a boat, and everyo ne around the situation wants to abstain, an individual is likely to comprise a plan of act ion to abstain from consuming alcohol while operating a boat. The majority of individuals have the ability to control their s ocial behavior s (Fishbein & Ajzen, 1975). As mentioned, intention to perform a behavior is a prediction for the behavior. However, behavioral intent must match exactly with the actual p redicted p erformance of the behavior in order for the prediction to be an accurate representation of the behavior (Perloff, 2008) To simplify, if one wants to predict whether individuals will abstain from consuming alco hol at the boat ramp tomorrow, one should ask individuals if they intend to abstain from consuming alcohol at the boat ra mp tomorrow. Asking individuals if they plan to abstain from consuming alcohol or to stop breaking laws is too general and would not predict the specific behavior. All variables must be congruent with the original question. Ajzen and Fishbein' s (1980) theory of reason ed action provides reasoning for behavioral predictions. However, positive and negative attitudes, and subjective norms including individuals' desires to side with the most popular referent are v ariables that should be considered when predicting behavior s. Proponents of Ajzen and Fishbein' s (1980) theoretical model argue that not all individuals have control over their behavior or that they lack the psychological capabi lity of premeditating and conducting behaviors. Still, the theory of reasoned action has been used to predict behaviors in a variety of disciplines ( Ajzen & Fishbein, 2005; Perloff, 2008)

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! 29 Sperber, Fishbein, and Ajzen (1980) studied women's occupational orientations. Brinberg and Durand (1983) examined behaviors regarding intentions to eat at fast food restaurants. A number of studies have predict ed he alth related behavi ors including Manstead, Proffitt, and Smart' s (1983) analysis of breast fe eding or bottle feeding i nfants and Anderson 's (2000) experiment regarding the impact of symbolic modeling and persuasive efficacy information on self efficacy beliefs and intentions to perform breast self examination Booth Butterfield and Reger (2004) found that theory based app roaches to public health interventions were useful for designing, implementing, and evaluating research. Specifically, their "1% or les s" nutrition intervention study found significant and predicted changes in intervention participants on intention, a ttitu de, and behavioral beliefs (Booth Butterfield & Reger, 2004, p. 581). The theory of reasoned action offers a thoroughly tested framework for analyzing the influence public relations strategies have on the beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intent ions of i ndividuals. Ajzen and Fishbein (1980) argue t hat these variables must be analyzed in the context of a specific behav ior. Since boater safety is a growing public issue, it should be considered to be of critical importance to public relations scholars and pr acti tioners. Therefore, this study focuses on the beliefs, attitudes and behavioral intenti ons o f individuals responding to boater safety messaging. Situational Theory of Publics Research suggests that the use and effectiveness of public relations message strategies depends on the attributes of the public to whom the st rategy is directed (Page & Hazle ton, 1999; Werder, 2005, 2006). C ommunication effects from a public relations perspective can be more easily answered using situational theory of publics (Wer der,

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! 30 2006). J. E. Grunig (1984) argues that by measuring how members of publics perceive situations in which they are affected by organizational consequences, communication behavior s of publics can be understood. J. E. Grunig (1978) defines a public as a g roup of people facing a similar independent situation, recognizing what is problematic in the specific situation, and organizing to do someth ing to fix the problem. Hallahan (2000b ) defines a public as a group of people who relate to an organization, and d emonstrate varying degrees of activity or passivity that may or may not interact with others concerning their relationship. Hallahan's (2000, 2000b) definition introduces varying levels of involvement in specific publics. From J.E. Grunig's (1978) definiti on, however, four types of pub lics can be identified: nonpublic, latent public, aware public, and active public ( J.E. Grunig & Hunt, 1984). Hallahan (2000b) extends J.E. Grunig's four categories introducing a fifth public, aroused. Organizational responses may need to be addressed differently to publics in each category depending on the circumstances, and considering the different levels of knowledge and involvement that these publics exhibit (Hallahan, 2000). A nonpublic does not contain any of the three c onditions of J.E. Grunig's (1978) definition of a public. It does not face a similar situation as an organization, recognize a problem in a situation, nor organize to fix the problem. Nonpublics have low levels of involvement and little knowledge about a t opic of interest to an organization, particularly because the topic is not relevant to them (Hallahan, 2000). These publics are least attentive to public relations message strategies, making this large population of individ uals difficult and costly to reac h.

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! 31 Inactive publics are the groups from which other publics are creat ed. Hallahan (2000) states "creating awareness and interest among otherwise disinterested audiences is the foundation upon which virtually all influence theories are based" (p. 465). A latent public faces a specific situation prompted by a result from an organization, but does not recognize the negative situation. J.E. Grunig and Hunt (1984) argue that as much as one third of the population could be described as either a nonpublic or latent public on any particular topic (Hallahan, 2000, p. 464). An aware public recognizes that it faces the situation and understands the problem associated with the organizational result. Last, a group becomes active when it understands all of the three aspects of J.E. Grunig's (1978 ) definition, including acknowledgement, organizing, and actively fixing the problem. Active publics talk about problems, and systematically arrange to fix them ( J.E. Grunig & Hunt, 1984). They are more opinionated than other publics, and are likely to maintain well organized opinions to guide their behaviors (J. E. Grunig, 1997). Active publics help to accomplish goals that will further impact organizations. Thus, "the stronger a public's identity with an organization, the stronger will be its reaction to what the organization says and does" (Hallahan, 2000, p. 464). R esearchers c an better understand publics by measuring how individuals in the targeted public perceive situations in which they are interested in or affect ed (J.E. Grunig 1997; Werder, 2006 ). Three factors, or independent variables, are used to predict communication b ehavior, attitude change, and behavior change (J.E Grunig, Toth, & L.A. Grunig, 2007). Developed by J.E. Grunig (1997) l evel of involvement, problem recognition, and constraint recognition become variables that determine whether a

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! 32 targeted public will ac tively or passively engage in some sort of intended behavior (Werder, 2006). Involvement, perhaps the most important variable, is defined as the extent to which an issue, problem, or situation has perso nal relevance to an individual (J.E. Grunig & Hunt, 1 984); it has the ability to explain thought processes, and behavioral intentions (Werder, 2005). Involvement may occur from actual participation in a situation, or it may arise internally (J.E. Grunig, 1997). Enhancing the relevance of the message to indiv iduals is a technique that has been shown to increase involvement and message elaboration, "particularly including appeals to fear and guilt, to self interest, and to socially important interests" (Hallahan, 2000, p. 470). High levels of involvement lead to easier identification of problem recognition. I ndividuals high in need for cognition recall more message arguments, generate a greater number of issue relevant thoughts, and seek more information about complex issues than those with low need for cogniti on ( Petty & Cacioppo, 1996) H ighly involved individuals practice more information seeking behaviors, yet individuals rarely seek out information that d oes not directly affect them (L.A. Grunig et al. 2002). Next, problem recognition, the extent to which individuals recognize a problem is facing them, is dependent upon individuals ability to cognitively perceive that a situation has consequences, notice a problem in t he situation, and craft problem solving techniques to mend the situation (J.E Grunig et al., 2007) J.E. Grunig and Hunt (1984) argue that individuals do not stop to think about situations unless they perceive that something needs to be done to remedy the situation. Therefore, the probability of communication is

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! 33 increased by problem recogniti on, and information seeking behavior takes place even in low involvement situations (J.E Grunig et al. 2007). Last, constraint recognition is the extent to which individuals perceive factors that inhibit their ability to move to action or change behavior (J.E G runig et al. 2007). This d eals with individuals' ab ility to recognize shortcomings or obstacles in a situation that may inhibit their free will to make decisi ons and act on them. Perceived high constraints are likely to reduce communication. "F or a campaign to move people to d evelop organized cognitions to perhaps change their behavio r, the campaign must show how people can remove constraints to their personally doi ng anything about the problem" (J.E. Grunig et al, 2007, p. 341). Werder's (2006) st udy found that items measuring involvement and goal compatibility were the strongest predictors of information seeking behavior. Information seeking behavior is defined as the premeditated scanning of the environment for messages about a particular topic o f interest to the targeted public. T argeted publics actively seek information if they maintain high levels of problem recognition, low constraint recognition, and high levels of involvement ( Werder, 2006; Perloff, 2008). The situational theory of publics helps to identify target publics according to their level of involvement, problem recognition and constraint recognition (J.E Grunig et al. 2007). Segmenting publics according to their level of engagement with an issue for purposes of creating effective message strategies and campaigns has proven beneficial in public relations (Werder, 2005). In addition, organizational resources can be more easily distributed to appropriate publics.

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! 34 Hypotheses This study analyzes boater safety message s trategy effect s on receiver v ariables. Four hypotheses and four propositi ons were developed based on the purpose of, and literature reviewed for, this study. The theory of reasoned action posits that salient beliefs predict attitude toward behavior and that attitude tow ard behavior and subjective norm regarding behavior predict intention. To test the predictions of the theory of reasoned action, the following two hypotheses and two propositions were tested: H1 : Salient beliefs predict attitude toward behavior. H2 : Attitude toward behavior and subjective norm regarding behavior predict behavioral intention. P2 .1 Promise and reward strategies will produce more positive attitudes than threat and punishment strategies. P2.2 Message strategies will have a greater infl uence on attitude toward message than on attitude toward issue or attitude toward organization. Akin to the situational theory of publics, information proces sing as a dependent variable will be examine d in this study. The last two hypotheses relate to J.E Grunig's (1997) situational theory of publics. H3 : Problem recogni tion, constraint recognition and level of involvement influence information seeking behavior in publics. Hypothesis three as ks whether the degree of information seeking behavior is depe ndent on the amount of proble m recognition, constraint recognition and level of involvement acquired by publics.

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! 35 H4 : The use of public relations message strategies in boater safety communication will i nfluence problem recogni tion, con straint recognition, and level of involvement. P4 .1: Threat and punishment strategies will have the strongest effect on information see king behavior. P4 .2: Facil itative and cooperative problem solving strategies will have the greatest influence on problem recognition. Hypothe sis four is a relational statement claiming that the six message strategies, derivatives of the public relations strategies developed from Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model, are in dependent variables that influence the dependent var iables of problem reco gnition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement. The two prop ositions related to Hypothesis four were developed based on previous research findings (Hazleton & Long, 1988; Werder, 2006). Propositions 4.1 and 4.2 examine whet her the public relations strategies used as independent variables will significantly affect the dependent variables, information seeking behavior and problem recognition. The next chapter provides the methodology used to test the hypotheses and propositions posited above. It provides data collection, instrumentation, and data analysis procedures used to form conclusions about the topic of study. In addition, this section will aid in forming recommendations for effective boater safety messaging, a nd limitations for future public relations studies.

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! 36 Chapter Th r ee Method ology This study explores the effect of public relations message strategies on beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of individuals regarding b oater safety. It is si gnificant to public relations literature because it examines how both active boaters and non boaters perceive safety messages. There appears to be no research on the use of safe boating messages. Thus, there is no research on how public relations messages about boater safety affect boaters' attitudes, awareness, and behavioral intentions. Determining effective boat er safety messages will help reduce boater accidents, injuries, and fatalities in years to come (U.S. Coast Guard, 2009), making this st udy both necessary and original An experiment was conducted using safety messages deriv ed from Hazleton and Long's (198 8) public relations process model. Specifically, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) th eory of reasoned action and J.E. Grunig's (1997) s ituational theory of publics were used to examine the communication effects of mess age strategies proposed by Hazle ton and Long (1988). In his Primer of Public Relations Research Stacks (2002) argues that the only way that researchers can distinctly test whether something actually causes a change in something else is by means of experimentation (p. 196). Experiments utilize both dependent and independent variables. Specifically, the independent variable causes some sort of change in the dependent variable ; thus, the dependent variable is dependent for its

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! 37 value on the independent variable (Stacks, 2002). Experiments identify specific causal variables for testing, giving the researcher control. In persuasion research, experiments are used to test the effect iveness of sources and message content on the attitudes and behaviors of intended audie nces (Boynton & Dougall, 2006). The primary objective of experimentation is to establish that two or more variables are related to one another in predictable ways (Stack s, 2002). Werder (2003) used an experimental method to test the effect s of public relations strategies on beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions, and Werder (2006 ) used a similar experimental method to test strategy influence on problem recognition, constraint recognition, level of involvement, and goal compatibil ity, all independent variables used to analyze an activist organization. Schuch (2007) also used an experimental method to test activist message strategy in fluence on the same variables. Th is stud y intends to extend Werder 's ( 2003, 2 006) and Schuch's (2007) findings by utilizing the variables: problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement to test th e influence of message strategies However there are clear distinctio ns between their studies and this study. First, Werder's (2003, 2006) studies involved an actual case of activism between two real or g anizations, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) and McDonald's. Unlike Werder's studies, S c huch's (2007) study was not based on a real activist organization or it s events. Instead, S c huch's Go pher Tortoise Advocacy Group was modeled after an actual organization, and the issue addressed by the group in her study was real.

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! 38 Second, Werder was interested in part icipants' perceptions of McDonald's after their exposure to both PETA's activism and McDonald's responses. The messages Werder used to test strategy influence were designed as McDonald's responses to PETA's activism. Schuch's messages explored participants perceptions of an activist organization in order to determine strategy effectiveness in making publics more active a nd sympathetic to the activist's cause. Like Schuch's study, this study is modeled after an actual organization, and the issue addre ssed b y the group is authentic; however, t his study seeks to examine the beliefs, attitudes and behavioral intentions of two understudied public s active boaters and non boaters This differs from Werder (2003, 2006) and Schuch's (2007) acti vist message strategy studies due to the differing publics analyzed and strategy intentions. The theory of reasoned action and the si tuational theory of publics offer th eoretical background that explains the e ffects of communication on targeted publics. Six of the seven strategies derived f rom Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model will be examined to determine effective boater safety messaging. Design of Study The organization of interest in this study, the Safe Boating Advocacy Group was modeled after a n actual boater safety organization to keep the scenario as reali stic as possible. A contrived organization and message strategies were used to avoid bias from attitudes previously existing about a familiar organization or its messages. T he Safe Boating Advocacy Group 's message content is a call to action for the general public to join the advocacy group. The issue of boater safety was chosen due to

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! 39 its geographic proximity to the participants who attend a l arge southeastern university as well as the researcher's personal interest. To examine the influence of public relations message strategies, participants were shown a message based on the strategy definitions discuss ed in the literature review. Each mess age was presented in the form of a screen shot from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group's Web site After reading and analyzing the screen shot, participants rate d their problem recogni tion, constrain t recognition, level of involvement and the intent to seek i nformation about safe boating Participants also rate d their beliefs, attitudes, and behav ioral intentions toward the Safe Boating Advocacy Group using measures determined b y the theory of reasoned action. The instrument used for the pretest and experiment can be found in A ppendix J of the Appendices. Date Collection for Experiment Participants were undergraduate students enrolled in a mass communication course at a large southeastern university The sample totaled 329 p articipants. Of these, 87 (26.4 %) were male, 231 (70. 2%) were female, and 11 ( 3.3 %) did not report their gender The age of the p articipants ranged from 17 to 39, with an average age of 20 Of the 32 9 pa rticipants, 203 (61.7%) were White/Caucasia n, 30 (9.1%) were Black/ African American, 42 (12.8%) were Hispanic, 24 (7.3%) were Asian/ Pacific Islander, 3 (.9%) were Native A merican, 14 (4.3%) reported an e thnicity other than the five choices listed above, an d 13 (4.0%) did not report their ethnicity This report on e thnicity corresponds with the U.S. Census Bureau st atistics on e thnicity for the state of Flo rida (U .S. C ensus Bureau, 2010), maki ng this study's experimentation and results presumably credible.

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! 40 The experiment took place i n a large lecture hall, at the beginning of class, and each participant was randomly assigned to one of the eight different treatment cond itions. T he use of booklets containing a message from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group derived from one of t he public r elations strategies and the instrument designed to measure the receiver variables of interest allowed for variation among conditions. At the beginning of each booklet participan ts were provided with an informed consent stat ement, an explanation of the st udy's purposes, and instructions for completing the experiment. Participation in the experiment was voluntary and no incentives were given to participants. The s cript used for the pretest and experiment is located in Appendix A. Instrumentation P articipants were exposed to one of eight different messages from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group. Six of the messages were manipula tions of the public relations strategies indentifie d in the literature review, while the seventh message was unrelated to the organization's campaign in ord er to control for strategy type. The eighth item was the overall control, which tested the absence of a message to determine whether using a message would indeed create greater effects than no message at all. The seven tangi ble messages we re presented in the format of Web screen shot s that would typically be found on a W eb site produced by the Safe Boating Advocacy Group. Each booklet was coded with a number from one to eight For each number, a different message of a screen shot of the Safe Boating Advocacy Group's Web site could b e found. Thus, participants who received a booklet coded with a one' received the overall control for the experiment. The overall control had no messag e so participants were instructed to disregar d the lack of message and begin the questionnaire. Participants

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! 41 receiving a booklet coded with a two' received the message strategy control, those with a booklet numbered three' received the informative treatment, the booklet numbered four' contained th e facilitative message, those assigned a booklet numbered five' received the persuasive message, booklet six' contained the promise and reward message treatment, booklet seven' contained the threat and punishment treatment, and participants randomly ass ig ned booklet eight' received a screen shot with the cooperative problem solving messag e. Coding the booklets from one to eight was a way for the researcher to differentiate the message treatments without participants' knowledge that each booklet contained a different treatment item. All seven treatme nts had identical photos and layout. The six strategies derived from the public relations strategy taxonomy and the control treatment shared the exact text in the main bo dy of the treatment explaining the mission of the Safe Boa ting Advocacy Group (see Table 1 ). The main body of the six strategy treatment s, and the control treatment contained 61 words and six lines of text. The content of the control treatment screen shot was unrelated t o tha t of the six academic public relations strategies though the format was the same as the strategy treatments (see T able 2 ). The message control treatment contained 39 words and five lines of text. Table 1 S hared Text for Treatments Shared Text for Treatm ents The Safe Boating Advocacy Group was established in 2006 by a group of recreational boaters and others concerned with boater safety. The Advocacy Group offers safety education and outreach; encourages the study of statistical data for future sa fe boating campaigns; conducts active public information groups and education programs, and creates how to guides to boating' for recreational boaters throughout the southeastern United States.

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! 42 Table 2 Text for Message Strategy Type Control Treatment Message Strategy Type Control Captain Joe will be hosting clinics on offshore angling at Pete's Pier in Crystal River, Florida from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. during the first and last weekends in May. Proceeds from the clinics will benefit the Florida Fish and Wildlife Commission's research programs. Table 3 Operationalization of Public Relations Message Strategie s Message Strategy Strategy Definition Message Content Informative Based on the presentation of unbiased facts. These messages do not draw conclusions, but presume the public will infer appropriate conclusions from accurate data. They are characterized by objectivity and the use of neutral language. Ninety percent of drowning fatalities due to boating accidents could have been prevented if the victim was wearing a life jacket.' Facilitative Makes resources available to a public that allow it to act in ways that it is already predisposed to act. Resources may be tangible items, such as tools or money, or they may be directions or information needed to accomplish specific tasks. All of the resources you need to learn about the importance of safe boating and how you can become a safe boater can be found in this Web site.' Persuasive Is c haracterized by appeals to a public's valu es or emotions. This strategy may include a selective presentation of information, and messages are directive in the sense that they provide a call for action either indirectly or directly. When boating fatalities occur friends and family members are lef t to suffer the loss of a loved one. Help reduce boating fatalities by joining our organization and learning about boater safety.' Power: Promise & Reward Uses positive coercion and involves the exercise of power to gain compliance. It includes a request for action and a related outcome that may be directly or indirectly linked to an individual's Studies show that 90 percent of boating accident victims will drown if not wearing a life jacket. When you join our organization, you will receive a free t shirt and boating safety information kit.'

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! 43 performance of the request. The source of the message controls an outcome desired or liked by the receiver of the message. Power: Threat & Punishment Uses negative coercion and involves the exercise of pow er and threat to gain compliance. It includes a request for action and a related outcome that may be directly or indirectly linked to an individual's performance of the request. The source of the message controls an outcome feared or disliked by the receiv er of the message. Studies show that 90 percent of boating accident victims will drown if not wearing a life jacket. If you don't join our organization and learn about boater safety, you may become the next boating fatality!' Cooperative Problem Solving Demonstrates a willingness to jointly define problems and solutions to problems. These messages are characterized by an open exchange of information to establish a common definition of the problem, common goals, and sharing po sitions and responsibilities about the issue. These strategies use inclusive symbols, such as we' and us.' We are cooperating closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to spread awareness about the importance of safe boating. If you would like to help us in th is cooperative effort, please join our organization. Together, we can reduce boating injuries and fatalities.' The messages used to test the manipulation for strategy type, along with the operational definitions of the strategies are provided in Table 3. The eighth condition, the overall condition, did not contain a message from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group; it did not have a treatment or message. All of the eight treatment conditions used the same instrument to measure the variables of interest. After viewing a message strategy from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group, the participants were asked to complete a questionnaire. Located directly following the

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! 44 instructions on the instrument, participants were asked to check the a ppropriate category for the following question: Do you have access to a boat on a regular basis (Yes___ No___)? Next, the instrument contai ned items measuring attributes of publics. Items were created to measure problem recognition, level of involvement, constraint recognition, and information seeking behavior. The instrument also contained items to measure participant's beliefs and subjectiv e norm. Attributes of publics, and items measuring participant's beliefs and subjective norm were rated on a 7 point Likert type scale from 1 ( strongly disagree ) to 7 ( strongly agree ). Seven point semantic differential scales were used to measure participa nts' attitudes toward the message strategy, and attitudes toward the behavior. Items measuring the independent and dependent variables of situational theory of publics were replicated from previous literature with slight modifications to fit the context of the present study. Similarly, items measuring beliefs, attitudes to message, attitude to issue, attitude toward the organization, subjective norm, and behavioral intent were modified from previous studies on the theory of reasoned action, with slight modi fications to fit the context of this study. Specifically, p roblem recognition, the first variab le tested, was measured using four statements. These statements were: 1) I believe t here is a p roblem with the way people perceive the importance of boater safet y; 2) I do not believe that operating without the proper safety equipment on board is a boat is a threat to individuals; 3) I believe there is a problem with current methods to fa cilitate boater safety messages; 4) I do not view boater safety as a problema tic issue

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! 45 Level of involvement was measured by the following five statements: 1) I am personally affected by situations involving boating; 2) I am concerned about boater safety, but a m not personally affected by it; 3) I do not have any involvement wi th situations involving boating; 4) I do not have any involvement with situations involving safety precautio ns; 5) Being a safe boater affects me. To measure constraint recognition, the third variable tested, the following four items were used: 1) I do not think there is anything I can do to prevent boating accidents; 2) I am able to make a difference in situations involving safe boating; 3) My actions will reduce the likelihood of getting into a boating accident; 4) My actions will be too inconsequential t o impact the amount of recreational boating accidents that occur annually in the U.S. Information seeking behavior was measured using the following items: 1) I plan to seek out additional information about ways that I can become a safer b oater; 2) I plan t o visit a Web site for further informati on on safety skills for boating; 3) I would send an email requesting further inform ation on situations involving boater safety Behavioral intent wa s measured using the above information seeking items; specifically b ehavioral intent w a s measured using the above six statements: 1 ) I would forward an email about situations involving safe boating practices to my friends ; 2 ) I would donate money to fa milies who experienced an injury in their family due to a boating accide nt ; 3 ) I would donate money to families who experienced a death in their family due to a boating accident ; 4 ) I would attend a meeting of the U.S. Coast Guard ; 5 ) I would take a boater safety course on the Internet ; 6 ) I would take a boater safety course i n a classroom.

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! 46 Participants' salient beliefs were measured using the following items: 1) I believe boater safety is important ; 2) I believe communicating messages about boater safety is important ; 3) I believe boating accidents are a growing problem ; 4) I believe recreational boaters should take safety education seriously ; 5) I believe there should remain a mutual respect between a boater and the water. Subjective norm was measured using the following items: 1) If aware of situations involving boating acc idents, people who are important to me would think there is a problem; 2) If my friends and family knew about the Safe Boating Advocacy Group, they would want me to support it. Using a 7 point semantic differe ntial scale, attitude toward the message, attit ude toward the organization, and attitude toward the issue was measured The following items were used to measure attitude toward the message : 1) Messages from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group are not informative/ formative; 2) Messages from the Safe Boatin g Advocacy Group are unbalanced/ balanced; 3) Messages from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group are not credible/ credible; 4) Messages from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group are untrustworthy/ trustworthy. At titude toward the organization was measured using the following three items co ncerning the S afe Boating Advocacy Group : 1) My attitude toward the Safe Boating Advocacy Group is unfavorable/ favorable; 2) My attitude toward the Safe Boating Advocacy Group is negative/ positive; 3) My attitude toward the Safe Boati ng Advocacy Group is bad/ good. The remaining three items measured attitude toward the issue; specifically, situations involving boater safety: 1) My attitude toward situations involving boater

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! 47 safety is unfavorable/ favorable; 2) My attitude toward situations involving boater safety is negative/ positive; 3) My attitude toward situations involving boater safety is bad/ good. In addition to the previous items measured, participants were asked to provide demographic responses for gender, age, and e thni city, major, class standing, and birth state. Gender, e thnicity, and class standing required participants to circle the most appropriate category. For the gender question, participants were instructed to circle eith er male' or female.' For the e thnicity question, participants were instructed to circle one of the six choices: 1) White, Caucasian; 2) African American; 3) Hispanic; 4) Asian Pacific Islander; 5) Native American; 6) Other. For the class standing question, participants were instructed to circle one of the six choices: 1) Freshman; 2) Sophomore; 3) Junior; 4) Senior; 5) Graduate student; 6) Other. Age, major, and birth state required open ended responses. Participant s' ages represented ordinal responses, and m ajor and birth state reflected nomin al responses. Manipulation Check for Strategy Type Prior to conducting the hypotheses tests a manipulation check was admini stered to determine individuals level of understanding of the Safe Boating Advocacy Group's messa ge strategies derived from Hazle ton and Long's (1988) public relations process model. The messages used to test manipulations for strategy type a re provided in Table 3 The text box where the strategy message text wa s presented contained between four and six lines of text and 20 and 40 w ords. The manipulation check determined whether messages from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group satisfactorily matched the academic definitions for each message.

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! 48 Participants wrote the number of the strategy that best matched and defined the Safe Boating Ad vocacy Group's message. Items were replicated from previous studies (Werder, 2003, 2006; Schuch, 2007) and adapted for the context of this study. See A ppendix J for I nstrument. Si xty three undergraduate students from research and writing classes in the Sch ool of Mass Communications partici pated in the manipulation check Eighteen out of 31 (58 %) student s in the research class got all matching items correct Six students mi ssed one or two matching items (19 %). Seven students missed four or more out of the six matching items (22 %). Thirty two students from the writing course compl eted the manipulation check. Nineteen students got all of the mat ching items correct (59 %) and nine students missed one or two match ing items (28 %). Four students attempting the ma nipulation check missed three or mor e ou t of the six matching items (1 %). Thirty seven out of 62 (60%) students successfully identified all of the corresponding treatments and definitions, and 15 out of 62 students (24%) missed one or two matching items. Nearly 84 percent (83.9%) of students attempting the manipulation check understood the ma tching exercise missing no more than two of the items. The results of the manipu lation check are shown in Table 4 Table 4. Correct Responses for Manipulation Check Ac ross Treatments Treatment Condition Number of Participants with Correct Response Percent Correct Threat & Punishment 58 93.54 Promise & Reward 52 83.87 Cooperative Problem Solving 51 82.25 Facilitative 50 80.64 Informative 47 75.80 Persuasive 45 72.58 Total: 62 100%

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! 49 The threat and punishment strategy performed the best. Of the 62 participants 58 (94 %) correctly matched th e threat and punishment message. The promise and reward message and the cooperative problem message percentages were also high. Of the 62 participants, 52 (84%) correctly matched the promis e and reward message, and 51 (82 %) correctly matched the cooperative problem solving message. Of the 62 participants, 50 (81%) correctly matched the facilitative mess age with its academic definition. Findings indicated that the majority of student s successfully completed the exercise; however, m essage s are often multifaceted. S light differences between the six academic definitions may be difficult for a layperson to de termine. Moreover, the definition represented in the message treatment from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group may have be en diffic ult to discern as each message focused o n a call to action to join the a dvo cacy organization. Time allotted is perhaps anoth er reason for the mixed findings, specifically fo r the students missing more than two of the matching items The researcher allotted approximately five minutes for the manipulation check. Though the researcher asked if more time was needed to complete the manipulation check, s ome participants may have needed more time to complete the matching exercise. Due to the percentage of participants who scored well on the matching exercise (8 4%), it was determined that the experiment would be conducted using the operational definitions examined in the manipulation check.

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! 50 Experiment Pretest Following the manipulation check, a pretest was conducted using the same undergraduate students st udying mass communication Thirty students in the research course and 31 students in the writing course, totaling 61 students participate d in the pretest Instrumentation There were no incentives, nor did participation influence or effect course grades. The researcher asked for verbal consent for participation to keep students anonymous and responses confidential. See Appendix A for Experiment S cript. The pretest took place during regularly scheduled class time. The researcher arrived befor e class to ensure that proper seating, writing utensils, and experiment documents were prepared and available. Once students entere d the room and sat in their seats the pretes t began. The pretest took approximately 20 minutes. The researcher stood in fro nt of the students and read the consent form aloud. After reading the consent form script, the researcher paused for one minute to allow students in the classroom the option to decline participation and step outside of the room until the completion of the pretest. None of the students declined participation. T he researcher read the instructions for the questionnaire, and verified that all participan ts thoroughly understood their role in the pretest. After the researcher's explanation concluded, participan ts b egan the pretest (see Appendix J: Instrument). Participants were instructed to remain seated and quiet for the duration of the pretest. After all participants completed the questionnaire, the researcher collected the data and

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! 51 thanked the students for t heir participation. The researcher instructed the participants to proceed wit h regularly scheduled class time and exited the classroom. Results Pretest results were examined to ensure the variability in m ean scores across the variables measured in this study. A series of one way ANOVAs were run for each item in the ques tionnaire. The results indicate variability in mean score s for the message types. Significant differences were found for one of t he con straint recognition items, CR4, F (7, 53)=2.184 p = .050. This item stated, "My actions will be too inconsequential to impact the number of recreational boating accidents that occur annually in the U.S." The variability in responses was determined to be adequate to proceed with this study. In addition, no modifications were made to the questionnaire for the a ctual experiment. The sample of students from the pretest was added to the sample of students that participated in the actual experiment. Therefore, the 61 responses for the pretest were added to the number of responses for the actual experiment, totaling 329 responses from undergraduate mass communication students at a large southeastern university Data Analysis Procedure Data was analyzed using SPSS 16 .0 f or Windows. An alpha level of .05 was required for significance in all of the statistical procedures. Partially completed questionnaires were used, so the number of responses varied for each statistical test. Before hypotheses were tested, analysis of the reliability of scales used to measure the variables of interest was performed using Cronbach's alpha and Pearson's r P rocedures to test the hypotheses included correlations analysis using Pearson's r linear regression analysis, and analysis of variance (ANOVA).

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! 52 The multiple item sets measuring salient beliefs, subjective norm, attitude toward message, attitude toward organization, attitude towar d issue, behavioral intent, information seeking behavior problem rec ognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement were assessed for internal consistency using Cronbach's alpha and Pearson's correlation coefficient. When applicable, multiple item sets were collapsed to create composi te measures for further testing.

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! 53 Chapter Four Results This study replica ted Werder 's ( 2003, 2006) and Schuch's (2007) public relations studies, and deepened understanding of Hazleton's (1988) message strategies. It analyzed which public relations strategies were more likely to influence the beliefs, attitudes and behavioral in tentions of individuals regarding boater safety As such, this study tested the following hypotheses: H1 : Salient beliefs predict attitude toward behavior. H2 : Attitude toward behavior and subjective norm regarding behavior predict beh avioral intention. P2 .1 Promise and reward strategies will produce more positive attitudes than t hreat and punishment strategies P2. 2 Message strategies will have a greater influence on attitude toward message than on attitude toward issue or attitude toward organization. H3 : Problem recogni tion, constraint recognition, and level of involvement influence information seeking behavior in publics. H4: The use of message strategies in boater safety communication will influence problem recogni tion, constrain t recognition, and level of involvement. P4 .1: Threat and punishment strategies will have the strongest effect on information seeking behavior.

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! 54 P4 .2: Facilitative and cooperative problem solving strategies will have the greatest influence on problem recogn ition. Preliminary Data Analysis Message strategies tested in this study were randomly assigned to participants. Forty seven participants were randomly assigned the message control treatment, and 44 participants r eceived the overall control. Forty two st udents received either the informative, facilitative, or persuasive message treatments In addition, t he promise and reward and the threat and punishment message treatments were equally random ly assigned to participants. The r esults of message treatments a ssigned to pa rticipants are shown in Table 5 Table 5 Message Frequency and Valid Percent Treatment Condition Frequency Percent Valid Percent Cumulative Percent Overall Control 44 13.4 13.4 13.4 Message Control 47 14.3 14.3 27.7 Informative 42 12.8 12.8 40.4 Facilitative 42 12.8 12.8 53.2 Persuasive 42 12.8 12.8 66.0 Promise & Reward 38 11.6 11.6 77.5 Threat & Punishment 38 11.6 11.6 89.1 Cooperative 36 10.9 10.9 100.0 Total 329 100.0 100.0 Before conducting testing for hypotheses, Cronbach's alpha was used to assess the internal consistency of the multiple item indexes for salient beliefs, subjective norm, attitude toward message, attitude toward organization, attitude toward issue, behavior al intent, information seeking behavior, problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement. Reversed items were transformed before performing the reliability analysis. Pearson's r was used to conduct a correlation analysis on items use d to measure

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! 55 indexes with less than three items Several items were collapsed because the a lpha indicated high internal consistency items in the index The results of the analysi s are shown in Table 6 and explained more thoroughly in tables below. Table 6 Cronbach's Alpha for Multiple Item Indexes Variable Cronbach's alpha # Pearson's r r, p Number of items Salient Beliefs .8 5 4 Subjective Norm r =.48, p .00 1 2 Attitude Toward Message .85 4 Attitude Toward Organization .93 3 Attitude Toward Issue .93 3 Behavioral Intent .87 7 Information Seeking Behavior r =. 84, p .00 1 2 Problem Recognition .39 4 Constraint Recognition .72 3 Level of Involvement .71 4 T he five items included to test salient beliefs produced an alpha scale reliability coefficient of .83. Results indicate that internal consistency of the five item beliefs index is strengthened by omitting item 16 on the questionnaire, B3, "I believe boatin g accidents are a growing problem." The r esulting four item index yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .85. In addition, t he two items included to measure subjective norm produce d a Pearson's r of .48, p .001 The attitude item s were split into three categories: attitude toward message, attitude toward be havior, and attitude toward i ssue. Results indicate that attitude toward message yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .85. Attitude toward behavior yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .93, and the attitude toward i ssue items yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .93.

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! 56 Nine items were included to measure beha vioral intent. Results indicate that internal consistency of the nine item index would be strengthened if the que stions were collapsed into two categories: 1) a seven item index for behavioral intent, and 2) a two item measure of information seeking behavior. The resulting seven item index testing behaviora l intent yielded a Cronbach's alpha of .87. The two remaining information seeking item s yielded a Pearson's r of .84, p .001 The four items included to measure problem recognition yielded an alpha scale reliability coefficient of .39. Due to the low internal consistency of the items used to measure problem recognition, the decision was made to use the four items as single item meas ures of problem recognition in testing of hypotheses. The four items included to measure constraint reco gnition produce an alpha scale reliability coeff icient of .70. Results indicate that by dropping item 13 on th e questionnaire, CR4, the alpha coefficien t was increased to .72. Therefore, "My actions will be too inconsequential to impact the number of recreational boating accidents that occur an nually in the U.S," was omitted from the multiple item index of constraint recognition. The five items used to measure level of involvement produce an alpha scale reliability coefficient of .50. Results indicate that the internal consistency of the five item level of involvement in dex would be strengthen ed if item six on the questionnair e, I2, was omitted. This ite m states "I am concerned about boater safety, but am not personally affected by it." After omitting I2, t he four remaining items produced an alpha scale reliability of .71.

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! 57 According to Stacks (2002), correlation coefficients express how much one v ariable explains another. Correlations below .30 are considered weak," those between .40 and .70 are considered "moderate," those between .70 and .90 are considered "high," and correlation coefficient s .90 and greater are considered "very high" (Stacks, 2 002). Though alphas .80 to 1.00 indicate high reliability (Stacks, 2002) a correlation coefficient of .70 or above is usually considered an ac ceptable measure o f construct s (Nunnal l y, 1978). However, l ower thresholds including an alpha coefficient of .50 or greater is often determined to be an adequate measure of scale rel iability in the social sciences (Nunnal l y, 1978). According to Stack's (2002) internal reliability coefficient explanation, the theory of reasoned action and the variables used to measure it have prove n reliable in numerous stud ies (Sperber et al., 1980; Brinberg & Durand, 1 983; Manstead et al. 198 3; Anderson, 2000). For example the theory of reasoned action has be en used as a predict ion for individuals' behavio ral intent regarding healt h (Manstead et al., 1983) nutrition (Brinberg & Durand, 1983) women's occupati onal orientations (Sperber et al., 1980) and the effects of efficacy (Anderson, 2000) In this study, t h e Cronbach's alphas for the t hree attitude items ranged from .85 to .93 in dicating very high reliability. The situational theory of publics however, has f aced criticism in regards to the items that measure its constructs. Specifically, researcher s critique the theory due to the weak interna l reliability produced by the items measuring problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement the three independent variables tested in this study. The four items included to test problem recognition produced an alpha scale reliability coefficient of .39 demonstr ating "weak" inte rnal reliability. The three item

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! 58 index for constraint recognition yielded an alpha scale reliability of .72 demonstrating "moderate" internal reliability. Like the problem recognition variable the level of involvement variab le produced a "moderate" internal reliability of .71. T he complexity of testing these perceptions perhaps suffices as reasoning for the weak to moderate internal reliability found among the a bo ve listed independent variables used to test the premise of the situational t heory of publics. Hypotheses Related to the Theory of Reasoned Action As aforementioned, the coefficient values for the items measuring the theory of reasone d action constructs demonstrate high internal reliability. The decision was made to use the collaps ed indexes de veloped for the salient beliefs, subjective norm, and behavioral intent items in hypothesis testing for this study. The three attitude measures attitude toward the message, attitude toward the organization, and attitude toward the issue were used as separate measures of attitudes in this study. Before testing the hypotheses related to the theory of reasoned action, a cor relation analysis was conducted to examine the relationship between the independent and dependent variables of the theory. Re sults indicate that all variables are positively correlat ed. The greatest correlation is found between attitude toward issue and attitude toward organization, r = .649, p .001. All correlations were sign ificant and are shown in Table 7

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! 59 Table 7 Corr elations Between the Independent and Dependent Variables of the Theory of Reasoned Action Variable B Att. Mess Att. Org Att. Issue SN1 SN2 Beh. Intent Info. Seek B Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N 1 329 .281 000 310 .384 .000 316 .452 .000 317 .267 .000 327 .334 .000 328 .267 .000 323 .111 .045 325 Attitude Mess. Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .281 .000 310 1 310 .502 .000 309 .402 .000 309 .141 .013 310 .271 .000 310 .197 .000 310 .164 .004 310 Attitude Issue Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .452 .000 317 .402 .000 309 .649 .000 316 1 317 .090 .112 317 .328 .000 317 .309 .000 316 .212 .000 317 Attitude Org. Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .384 .000 316 .502 .000 309 1 316 .649 .000 316 .163 .004 316 .348 .000 316 .316 .000 315 .213 .000 316 SN1 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .267 .000 327 .141 .013 310 .163 .004 316 .090 .112 317 1 327 .479 .000 327 .233 .000 323 .282 .000 325 SN2 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .334 .000 328 .271 .000 310 .348 .000 316 .328 .000 317 .479 .000 327 1 328 .452 000 323 .485 .000 325 Beh. Intent Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .267 .000 323 .197 .000 310 .316 .000 315 .309 .000 316 .233 .000 323 .452 .000 323 1 323 .703 .000 323 Info. Seek Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .111 .045 325 .164 .004 310 .213 .000 316 .212 .000 317 .282 .000 325 .485 .000 325 .703 .000 323 1 325 Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2 tailed) *B= Beliefs *Att. Mess. = Attitude Toward Message *Att. Org. = Attitude Toward Organization *Att. Issue = Attitude Toward Issue *SN1 = Subjective Norm Item One *SN2 = Subjective Norm Item Two *Beh. Intent = Behavioral Intent *Info. Seek= Information Seekin g Behavior

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! 60 Hypothesis 1 Hypothesis one states that s alient beliefs predict attitude toward behavior. A series of linear regression analyses were conducted to tes t this hypothesis and the premise of the theory of reasoned act ion. Spec i fically, three regressions were per formed; each with one of the three attitude measures attitude toward the message, attitude toward the organization and attitude toward the issue entered as the criterion variable, to demonstrate support for H1. In each t est, the attitude measure the dependent variabl e was regressed on the measure of salient beliefs the predictor variable. Salient b eliefs wa s the only predictor variable entered in the regression equation for these three separate t ests. In the first test the results indicate that nearly 8 % of the variance in attitude toward the message is due to salient beliefs R 2 = .079 Adj. R 2 = 076 F (1, 308)= 26.395 p 001 In the second test nearly 15 % of the variance in attitude toward the organization is due to salient beliefs R 2 = 147 Adj. R 2 = 144 F (1, 314)= 54.193 p .00 1 In the third test 20% of the variance in attitude toward the issue is due to salient beliefs R 2 = .204 Adj. R 2 = .202 F (1, 315)= 80.910 p !.001 All three tests indicate that salient beliefs ha ve a significant effect on the at titude measures, but beliefs has the strongest effect on attitude to ward the issue according to the R 2 values, R 2 = .204 The results are shown in Table s 8 11 and indicate that beliefs influence the dependent variables of attitude toward the message, attitude toward the organization, and attitude toward the issue Table 8 Beliefs Predicting Attitude Variables Dependent Variable R R Square Adjusted R Square Std. Error of the Estimate Attitude Toward Issue .452 a .204 .202 1.08497 Attitude Toward Organization .384 a .147 .144 1.11002 Attitude Toward Message .281 a .079 .076 1.08625

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! 61 Table 9 Regression Model for Beliefs Predicting Attitude Toward Message Dependent Variable B SE B t(308) Sig. Attitude Toward Message .326 .063 .281 5.138 .000 Table 10 Regression Model for Beliefs Predicting Attitude Toward Organization Dependent Variable B SE B t(314 ) Sig. Attitude Toward Organization .472 .064 .384 7.362 .000 Table 11 Regression Model for Beliefs Predicting Attitude Toward Issue Dependent Variable B SE B t( 315) Sig. Attitude Toward Organization .563 .063 .452 8.995 .000 Next regression analysis was used to determine if salient beliefs have an effect on the subjective norm items, SN1 and SN2 Item 19 on the questionnaire, subjective norm item one states, "If aware of situations involving boating accidents, people who are important to me would think there is a problem. Item 20 on the questionnaire, subjective norm item two states, "If my friends and family knew about the Safe Boating Advocacy Group, they would want me to support it." Both tests ind icate a significant effect on subjective norm due to beliefs but the R 2 value R 2 = .111 is larger for SN2. Therefore, the result s, shown in Table s 12 14 indicate that beliefs hav e the strongest effect on subjective norm item two. Table 12 Beliefs Predicting Subjective Norm Variables Variable R R Square Adjuste d R Square Std. Error of the Estimate SN1 .267 a .072 .069 1.315 SN2 .334 a .111 .109 1.405

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! 62 Table 13 Regression Model for Beliefs on Subjective Norm Item 1 Variable B SE B t( 325 ) Sig. SN1 .371 .074 .267 5.003 .000 Table 14 Regression Model for Beliefs on Subjective Norm Item 2 Variable B SE B $ t (324 ) Sig. SN2 .506 .079 .334 6.388 .000 Finally a regression analysis was conducted to test the effect of the two subjective norm items and the three attitude measures on i nformation seeking behavior. T he results of the regression analysis were significant R 2 =.262, Adj R 2 =.250, F (5, 303)=21.526, p 001. However, only SN2 made a significant contribution to the unique item variance, = .446 p 001. The results indicate that both subjective norm items are stronger predictors of i nformation seeking behavior than the attitude measures. Of the attitude measures however, att itude toward the organization i s the strongest predictor for information seeking behavior. The resul ts are shown in Table 15 Table 15 Regression Model for Subjective Norms and Attitudes Predicting Information Seeking Behaviors. Independent Variable B SE B t(307) Sig. Subjective Norm 2 .426 .058 .446 7.381 .000 Subjective Norm 1 089 .059 .085 1.504 .134 Attitude Toward Issue .063 .078 .054 .812 .418 Attitude Toward Message .018 .073 .014 .245 .807 Attitude Toward Organization .01 4 .0 83 .01 2 .168 .867 Hypothesis 2 Hypothesis two states that a ttitude toward behavior and subjective norm regarding behavior predict behavioral intention. T he effec t s of the two subjective norm items, and the three attitude measures on b eh avioral intent were examined, as the theory of reasoned action proposes. Linear regression analyses were used to test this hypothesis. Behavioral

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! 63 intent the dependent variable, was regressed on the attitude measures attitude toward message, attitude toward the issue, an d attitude toward organization and the two subj ective norm items SN1 and SN2 The regre ssion equation indicates that 24 % of the variance in behavioral intention is explained by t he independent variables, R 2 = .252 Adj. R 2 = .24, F ( 5, 303)= 20.423, p .00 1 Subjective norm item two, "If my friends and family knew about the Safe Boating Advocacy Group, they would want me to support it," i s the most significant item acting as a unique predictor of behavio ral intent. Results indicate that subjective norm influences behavioral intent more than attitude toward behavior in this study. The om nibus test indicates the theory of reasoned action i s supported, with a very high Adj. R 2 of .240. T h e coeffici ent test indicates that only subjective norm item two (SN2) contributes to th e unique item variance for the b eh avioral i ntent measu re, meaning that it is the strongest predictor of b eh avioral intent. T he results are shown in Table 16 Table 16. Regression Model for Subjective Norm s Predicting Behavioral Intent Independent Variable B SE B t(307) Sig. Subjective Norm 2 .316 .052 .372 6.115 .000 Attitude Toward Issue .126 .070 .120 1.806 .072 Attitude Toward Org anization .118 .075 .112 1.585 .114 Subjective Norm 1 .034 .053 .037 .644 .520 Attitude Toward Message .016 .065 .015 .252 .801 Proposition 2.1 Proposition 2.1 states that p romise and reward strategies will produce more positive attitudes than t hreat and punishment strategies To test this proposition, an independent samples T test was conducted to determine if significant differences in mean

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! 64 scores for the promise and reward message and the threat and punishment message were found across the attitude measures. First, a Levene's test for equality of variance was conducted to determine if the population variances for the two groups were equal across the dependent variables. The test produced no significant results ( F=. 779, p = .381; F = 010, p =. 921; F = 1.005, p = .320). N either the promise and reward nor the threat and punishment message s produced si gnificant effects; therefore, P2.1 is not supported. However, t he promise and r eward message has the greater mean across all three attitude measures attitude tow ard message, attitude toward organization and attitude toward issue compared to the threat and punishment message. The results of the T t est are shown in Table 17 Table 17. Means and Standard Devi ations for Attitudes Across Promise and Reward and Threat and Punishment Messages Strategy N M SD ATTMESS Promise & Reward Threat & Punishment 37 37 4.9122 4.6689 1.18177 1.06238 ATTORG Promise & Reward Threat & Punishment 37 37 5.3694 4.9369 1.19356 1.34449 ATTISSUE Promise & Reward Threat & Punishment 37 37 5.2523 5.1081 1.28237 1.12780 Proposition 2.2 Proposition 2.2 states that m essage strategies will have a greater influence on attitude toward message than on attitude toward issue or attitude toward organization. To test this proposition, a series of ANOVAs were conducted with strategy type as the independent variable and the three attitude measures entered as dependent variables. The results of the fi rst ANOVA are not significant, F ( 7, 302)= 1.608, p = .133, % 2 = .036. The strength of the relationship between message type and attitude toward

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! 65 message, as assessed by % 2 is weak, accounting for about 4% of the variance in the attitude toward message measure. However, post hoc comparisons indicate that significant differences in mean scores for the attitude toward message measure exist across strategy type. The mean and stand ard deviation for message type for the attitude toward mess age measure are shown in Table 18 Specifically, four message types produced significantly higher mean scores for the attitude toward message measure than the overall control treatment : persuasive, informative, cooperative problem solving and promise and reward treatments (see Table 19). Table 18 Me ans and Standard Deviations for Message Type Across Attitude Toward Message Message Type N M SD Persuasive 41 5.0671 1.00627 Cooperative Problem Solving 35 4.9643 1.05046 Promise & Reward 37 4.9122 1.18177 Informative 40 4.8188 1.00637 Message Control 43 4.7326 1.03710 Facilitative 41 4.7012 1.19402 Threat & Punishment 37 4.6689 1.06238 Overall Control 36 4.3056 1.41183 Table 19 ANOVA for Message Type Across Attitude Toward Message Message Type M Diff. SE Sig. Overall Control Message Control .4270 .25354 .093 Informative .5132 .25783 .047 Facilitative .3957 .25634 .124 Persuasive .7615 .25634 .003 Promise & Reward .6066 .26274 .022 Threat & Punishment .3634 .26274 .168 Cooperative Problem Solving .6587 .26641 .014

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! 66 The resu lts of the second ANO VA also indicate no significant difference F ( 7, 309)= .850, p = .546, % 2 =. 019. The strength of the relationship between message t ype and attitude toward issue, as assessed by % 2 i s weak, accounting for about 2% of the varianc e in the attitude toward issue measure. However, post hoc comparisons indicate that significant differences in mean scores for the attitude toward issue measure exist across strategy type. The mean and standard deviation for message type for the attitude toward issue measure are show n in Table 20 Specifically, the results indicate that the persuasive message produced a signi ficantly higher mean than the over all control as shown in Table 21 Table 20 Means and Standard Deviations for Message Type Across Attitude Toward Issue Message Type N M SD Persuasive 41 5.4878 1.46837 Facilitative 41 5.3333 1.20876 Informative 40 5.3083 1.19206 Message Control 46 5.2609 1.10423 Promise & Reward 37 5.2523 1.28237 Cooperative Problem Solving 35 5.1524 1.01731 Threat & Punishment 37 5.1081 1.12780 Overall Control 40 4.8917 1.26173 Ta ble 21 ANOVA for Message Type Across Attitude Toward Issue Message Type M Diff. SE Sig. Overall Control Message Control .3692 .26299 .161 Informative .4167 .27201 .127 Facilitative .4417 .27034 .103 Persuasive .5961 .27034 .028 Promise & Reward .3606 .27747 .195 Threat & Punishment .2164 .27747 .436 Cooperative Problem Solving .2607 .28155 .355

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! 67 Finally, results from t he third ANOVA indicate no sign i ficant results in message strategies across attitude toward organization F ( 7, 308)=1 .552 p =. 149 % 2 = .034 The strength of the relationship between message type and attitude toward organization as assessed by % 2 i s weak, accounting for about 3 % of the varianc e in the attitude toward organization measure. Specifically, the results indicate that the persuasiv e and promise and reward strategies produced significantly higher means than the ov erall control, as shown in Table 22 However, s ignificant differences in mean scores indicated by post hoc comparisons, for the attitude toward organization measure exist a cross strategy type. Table 22 Means and Standard Deviations for Message Type Across Attitude Toward Organization Message Type N M SD Persuasive 41 5.5285 1.22696 Promise & Reward 37 5.3694 1.19356 Facilitative 41 5.2033 1.15921 Cooperative Problem Solving 35 5.1698 1.04475 Informative 40 5.1167 1.07430 Message Control 46 5.0797 1.05920 Threat & Punishment 37 4.9369 1.34449 Overall Control 39 4.8034 1.40741 Table 23 ANOVA for Message Type Across Attitude Toward Organization Message Type M Diff. SE Sig. Overall Control Message Control .2763 .25963 .288 Informative 3132 26842 244 Facilitative 3998 26680 .135 Persuasive 7250 26680 .007 Promise & Reward 5660 27374 040 Threat & Punishment 1335 27374 626 Cooperative Problem Solving .2607 .28155 .057

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! 68 Hypotheses Related to the Situational Theory of Publics Though the internal reliability of the items measuring the constructs of the situational theory of publics is not as s t rong as those measuring the th eory of reasoned a ction, Nunnally (1978) argues coefficient values .70 or above are adequate for items measuring the situational theory of publics Specifically, an alpha coefficient of .50 or greater is often determined to be an adequat e measure for scale reliability (Nunnally, 1978). Prior to hypotheses testing on the situational theory of publics, a correlation analysis was conducted to examine the linear relationship between the independent and dependent variables of the theory. Results indicate that al l variables were positively correlated with the exception of constraint recognition. Constrain t recognition has a negative correlatio n with the other variables which is explained by the premise of the theory. The greatest c orrelation i s found between prob lem recognition item one and problem recognition item three r =. 390 p !.001 All correlations are signif icant and are shown in Table 24

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! 69 Table 24 Correlations Between Independent and Dependent Variables of the Situational Theory of Publics Variable IS PR1 PR2 PR3 PR4 LI CR IS Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N 1 352 .168 .002 325 .046 .410 325 .074 .182 325 .257 .000 324 .341 .000 324 .339 .000 324 PR1 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .168 .002 325 1 329 .072 .191 329 .390 .000 329 .177 .001 328 .094 .089 328 .102 .065 328 PR2 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .046 .410 325 .072 .191 329 1 329 .077 .166 329 .211 .000 328 .000 .996 328 .089 .107 328 PR3 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .074 .182 325 .390 .000 329 .077 .166 329 1 329 .150 .006 328 .019 .727 328 .034 .538 328 P R 4 Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .257 .000 324 .177 .001 328 .211 .000 328 .150 .006 328 1 328 .221 .000 327 .302 .000 327 LI Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .341 .000 324 .094 .089 328 .000 .996 328 .019 .727 328 .221 .000 327 1 328 .568 .000 327 CR Pearson Correlation Sig. (2 tailed) N .339 .000 324 .102 .065 328 .089 .107 328 .034 .538 328 .302 .000 327 .568 .000 327 1 328 Correlation is significant at the 0.01 level (2 tailed) *IS= Information Seeking Behavior *PR= Problem Recognition *LI= Level of Involvement *CR= Constraint Recognition

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! 70 Hypothesis 3 Hypothesis three states that problem recogni tion, c onstraint recognition and level of involvement influence information seeking behavior in publics. To test this hypothesis, multiple reg ression analysis was conduct ed. The two item information seeking measure the dependent vari able, w as regressed on the measures of t he four problem recognition items, t he composite level of involvement measure, and the composite constraint r ecognition measure. These six measures wer e entered as predictor variables. The results indicate that 16.6 % of the variance in the information seeking variable is accounted for by the six predictor variables entered i n the regression analysis R 2 = 181, Adj. R 2 =. 166, F (6, 315)= 11.635, p .00 1 Table 25. Independent Variables Predicting Information Seeking Behavior Dependent Variable R R Square Adjusted R Square Std. Error of the Estimate Information Seeking Behavior .426 a .181 .166 1.30560 According to the regression mo del, the results suggest that level of i nvolveme n t is the strongest predictor of information seeking behavior, $ = .203, t (320 )= 11.635 p .001, followed by constraint recognition which has a nega tive Beta weight, $ = .169, t (320 )= 11.635 p = .008 This indicates that constraint recognition has an inverse relati onship with the information seeking measure. I tem four on the questionnaire, PR4 also makes a significant contribut ion to the regression equation, $ = .146, t (320 )= 11.635, p = .009. This item states, "I do not view boater safety as a problematic issue." The results indicate that the independent variables problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement influence individuals' information

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! 71 seeking behavior regarding safe boating. Therefore, H3 is support ed. Table 26 Regression Model for Situational Theory Variables Independent Variable B SE B $ t(320) Sig. PR1 .118 .061 .108 1.917 .056 PR2 .009 .041 .012 .225 .822 PR3 .009 .078 .006 .111 .911 PR4 .142 .054 .146 2.622 .009 Involvement .195 .060 .203 3.253 .001 Constraint Recognition .165 .062 .169 2.652 .008 Hypothesis 4 Hypothesis four states that message strategies in b oater safety communication influence problem recogni tion, constraint recogni tion, and level of involvement H ypothesis four tested the effect of message type on the situational theory of publics independent variables: problem recognition, constraint recognition, and leve l of involvement as suggested by the situational theory of publics. To test this hypothesis, a series of one way ANOVAs were conducted. These tests yield ed no significant differences in mean scores for the independent variables based on message type. However, t he results indicate that the message strategies produced the strongest effect on problem recognition item one, F (7, 321)= 1.290, p = .254 followed by problem recognition item four, F (7, 320)=.811, p = .578. Problem recognition item one states, "I believe there is a problem with the way people perceive the importance of boater safety." Problem recognition item four states, "I do not view boater safety as a problematic issue." An evaluation of mean scores indicates that the threat and punishmen t strategy produced the highest mean score for problem recognition item one ( M = 4.84, SD = 1.128) followed by problem recognition item three ( M =4.47, SD = 1.084). The means and standard deviations for problem recognition item one are shown in Table 27

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! 72 Table 27 Means and Standard Devi ations for Problem Recognition Item One Across Treatments Treatment Condition N M SD Threat & Punishment 38 4.84 1.128 Cooperative Problem Solving 36 4.56 1.252 Message Control 47 4.51 1.397 Informative 42 4.50 1.366 Facilitative 42 4.45 1.273 Persuasive 42 4.33 1.373 Promise & Reward 38 4.24 1.364 Overall Control 44 4.07 1.149 Proposition 4.1 P roposition 4 .1 states that t hreat and punishment strategies will have the strongest effect on information seeking behavior. ANOVAs were used to test this proposition. The results indicate no significant differences on information seeking be havior across message types F (7, 317 )= .957, % 2 =.021 p = .463. In addition, t he th reat and punishment message did not produce the highest mean for information seeking behavior. The cooperative message produced the highest mean score ( M =2.9167, SD = 1.48565), followed by the persuasive message ( M =2.8902, SD = 1.31107). Of the eight treatments used in this study, the threat and punishment message produced the fifth highest mean for information seeking behavio r ( M =2.6316, SD =1.51873); thus, proposition 4.1 is not supported. The results from the mean and standard deviation scores for in formation seeking behavior across message treatments are shown in Table 28

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! 73 Table 28 Means and Sta ndard Deviations for Information Seeking Behavior Across Treatments Treatment Condition N M SD Cooperative Problem Solving 36 2.9167 1.48565 Persuasive 41 2.8903 1.31107 Facilitative 41 2.8415 1.36674 Message Control 47 2.6596 1.51121 Threat & Punishment 38 2.6316 1.51873 Promise & Reward 37 2.5946 1.44260 Overall Control 44 2.4659 1.39933 Informative 41 2.2805 1.36953 Proposition 4.2 P roposition 4 .2 states that the f acilitative and cooperative problem solving strategies will have the greatest influence on problem recognition. Four measures were used to test problem recognition Problem recognition item one PR1, states, "I believe there is a problem with the way people perceive the i mportance of boater safety." Problem recognition item two, PR2, states, "I do not believe that operating without the proper safety equipment on board a boat is a threat to individuals." P roblem recognition item three, PR3, states, "I believe there is a problem with current methods to facili tate boater safety messages." Problem recognition item four PR4, states, "I do not view safety as a problematic issue." As discussed in H4 the results of the ANOVAs indicated that message strategies did not produce significa nt differences in mean scores, but t he evaluation indicates that the threat and punishment strategy produced the highest mean for the first problem recognition item, PR1 ( M = 4.84, SD = 1.128). The mean and standard deviation scores for problem recognition across all t reatments are shown in Table 27 in Hypothesis 4. The mean for the informative strategy i s the great est for PR2 ( M = 5.79, SD = 1.646). The mean score for the t hreat and punishment strategy i s the greatest for PR3

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! 74 ( M = 4.47, SD = 1.084). Finally, the cooperative p roblem solving strat egy produced the greatest mean for PR4 ( M = 4.81, SD = 1.390). According to the mean scores and standard deviations for the four item problem recognition measurement proposition 4. 2 is minimally supported since PR4 indicates that the cooperative probl em strategy has the greate st mean of the eight treatments. The means for the facilitative strategy across the four pr oble m recognition items fall among the middle of the strategies. Thus, the facilitative strategy has the third highest mean for PR1 the fourth highest mean for PR2 the third highest me an for PR3 and the fourth highest mean for PR4 The se results are shown in Table 29 Table 29 Means and Standard Deviations for Problem Recognit ion Measures Across Treatments Treatment Condition PR1 M PR1 SD PR 2 M PR2 SD PR3 M PR3 SD PR4 M PR4 SD Overall Control 4.07 1.149 5.75 1.793 4.25 .751 4.48 1.486 Message Control 4.51 1.397 5.47 1.743 4.04 1.083 4.72 1.556 Informative 4.50 1.366 5.79 1.646 4.12 1.194 4.20 1.600 Facilitative 4.45 1.273 5.50 1.929 4.17 1.057 4.69 1.645 Persuasive 4.33 1.373 5.67 1.748 4.24 .983 4.79 1.279 Promise & Reward 4.24 1.364 5.39 2.007 4.29 1.160 4.74 1.369 Threat & Punishment 4.84 1.128 5.58 1.898 4.47 1.084 4.74 1.369 Cooperative Problem Solving 4.56 1.252 5.47 2.077 4.36 .931 4.81 1.390 PR= Problem Recognition

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! 75 A comprehensive discussion is required to fully understand the results presented in this chapter. The results of the data analysis for the four hypotheses, and four propositions tested in this study will be discussed in Chapter 5. Following this discussion, conclusions will be drawn and recommendations for or ganizations will be discussed. Limitations concerning this study and a reas for future research will also be discussed

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! 76 Chapter Five Discussion The objective of this study was to explain the communication effects of public relatio ns strategies derived from Hazle ton and Long's (1988) public relations process model using Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action and J.E. Grunig's (1997) s ituational theory of publics. To examine message strategy effect on individuals regarding safe boating communication, four hypotheses and four propositions were tested. Isolating the variables of interest via experimentatio n was an ideal way to verify that expected relationships truly existed (Stacks, 2002, p. 198). The predictions of the theory of reasoned action that salient beliefs predict attitude toward be havior, and attitude toward behavior and subjective norm predict behavioral intention were the first two hy potheses tested. T hese predictions were supported by the results of this study. In tests related to H1, s alient beliefs were found to p redict at titude toward behavior. Twenty percent of the variance in attitude to ward the issue was due to salient beliefs. Therefore, r esults indicated that salient beliefs had the greatest effect on the attitude toward issue measure among the three attitude items measured attitude toward message, attitude toward organiza t ion, and att itude toward issue. This may be due to the importance of the topic tested, an d /or the absence of information provided about the mock organization used in this study. Participants were not provided information about the activist organization, except for a c all to action statement on the treatment. The

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! 77 importance of the safety related issue boater safety, may have been more important to participants in this study than the organization or the message type used to communicate about the issue. Next, sa lient beliefs were tested on two subjective norm i tems. Subjective norm item one, SN1, stated "If aware of situations involving boating accidents, people who are important to me would think there is a problem." Subjective norm item two, SN2, stated, "If my frie nds and family knew about the Safe Boating Advocacy Group, they wo uld want me to support it." Results indicated that salient beliefs had a significant effect on both subjective norm items, but a stronger effect on SN2. Finally, the effect s of both subjective norm items, and all three attitude measures on information seeking behavior were tested. Again, results related to the premise of the theory of reasoned action were significant, and both subjective norm items were stronger predictors th an the three att itude measures. More important subjective norm item two, SN2, was the strongest predictor across items. Hypothesis 2 stated that attitude toward behavior and subjective no rm predict behavioral intention. S ubjective norm was the greatest p redictor of behavioral intent across the independent variables tested the three attitude items and the two subjective norm item s In Werder's (2003) study, attitude toward behavior was found to be the stronger predictor of behavioral intent ; however, in S chuch's (2007) study, subjective norm was found to be the stronger predictor of behavioral intent Like Schuch's (2007) study, subjective norm proved to be the strongest predictor of behavioral intent in this study and t here are several reasons to support this finding.

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! 78 As mentioned, and supported in H1 the issue addressed proved to be more important than the organization or the pubic relations messages created by the researcher. Boater safety h as become more salient to the members of the community by the local media's response to recent boating accidents in the Tampa Bay area and in th e state of Florida (see U.S. Coast Guard, 2010). Since Florida is surrounded by water, the importance of precautionary measures involving waterways is a continuous topic of discussion. For example, opinion leaders, activist groups, organizations, media, and the general public discuss the importance of practicing precautionary safety measures regarding outdoor activities year round (NSBC, 2010; U.S. Coast Guard, 2010). Ther efore, the more significa nt the issue, the more frequent the topic of conversation on the media's agenda. Another explanation regarding subjective norm could be the population used in this study. The average participant was a 20 year old undergraduate college student. It is likely that participants in this study placed importance on how others viewed their behavior, particularly how others perceived their choices during the experiment. Specifically, participants may have thought that the most important referents media and/or peers wanted them to respond in favor of increasing safety awareness. Results indicating that the two subjective norm items were the strongest predictors of attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors is perhaps this study's greatest contribu tion to public relations research. H uman attitudes and behaviors are often intertwined (Werder, 2006); however, literature posits that individuals will perform behaviors they find popular with others and will refrain from behaviors they regard as unpopular or unfavorable with others (Petty & Cacioppo, 1996 ; Werder, 2003 ). Participants perhaps

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! 79 conceded to social pressure, and the percept ions of the societal norm to make the right' choices regarding safety. Perhaps this occurrence takes place more frequently than researchers acknowledge, or issue relevant topics even geared toward passive publics produce a greater impact on individuals than less important topics on active publics. Hallahan (2000) argues organizational responses may need to be addressed differ ently to publics in each category depending on the circumstances, and considering the different levels of knowledge and involvement that these publics exhibit. Proposition 2.1 predicted that p r omise and reward strategies would produce more positive attitud es than t hreat and punishment strategies. Sinc e results indicated that the type of message strategies used to communicate about the issue produced no signific ant differences in the variables tested in this study, it is hard to speculate about the importanc e of specific message types used to create effective communication about boater safety. There is, however, limited evidence to suggest that organizations involved in boater safety issues can achieve better results in developing positive attitudes among pub lics with some strategies more than others. Of the promise and reward and threat and punishment messages, the promise and reward message yielded greater mean scores across all three attitude measures attitude toward message, attitude toward organization, and attitude toward issue. T his i s perhaps due to the positive tone of the message and the suggestion that some reward would be provided to the message receiver (see Hazleton & Long, 1988). The threat an d punishment treatment stated, "Studies show that 90 percent of boating accident victims will drown if not wearing a life jacket. If you don't join our organization and learn about boater safety, you may be come the next boating fatality!"

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! 80 The promise and reward treatment stated, "Studies show that 90 percen t of boating accident victims will drown if not wearing a life jacket. When you join our organization, you will receive a free t shirt and boating safety kit." Both promise and reward and threat and punishment strategies are considered to be coercive funct ions because they involve an exerc ise of power (Perloff, 2008), and bot h messages openly demonstrate a problem as well as a solution to the problem. However, each strategy exploits promises or threats negative s or positive s to gain compliance. It is likely that the positive versus negative nuance of the messages is a reason for the three higher attitude means reported for the p romise and reward mes sage. Proposition 2.2 predicted that message strategies would have a greater influence on attitude toward the message than on attitude toward the issue or attitude toward the organizatio n. Individuals form attitudes toward messages from organizations, and these attitudes may influence salient beliefs, which influence attitudes toward behavior and behavioral i ntent (Werder, 2003). In this study, t he strength of the relationship between message type and each of the attitude measures was weak, but the strength of the relationship between message type and attitude toward message produced a slightly higher variance (4%) than attitude toward issue (2%), and at titude toward organization (3%); therefore P2.2 was partially supported. Specifically, four message types informative, persuasive, promise and reward, and cooperative problem solving produced significantly highe r means for the attitude toward message measure than the overall control treatmen t. The results of this study, unlike Werder's (2003) study revealed that activist message strategies do not necessarily influence attitude toward strategy. However, the result s do indicate that messages created by organizations are better than no

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! 81 message at a ll, and of the messages, the persuasive and informative have the greatest effect on attitude toward the message. Like Werder's (2003) study, the threat and punishment had t he least influence of all the strategies in this study. The persuasive strategy provides for a biased delivery of information often caused by a selective presentation of information This strategy appeals to individuals' values and presumes that the audience lacks motivatio n or is resistant. The persuasive strategy provides for a call to action either implicitly or overtly and is often effective when communicating a message that involves time cons traints (Werder, 2006). Zaltman and Duncan (1977) argue that persuasive strategies are utilized when a problem is not recognized or considered important by a public, or when invo lvement is low. According to this study's results that boater safety is indeed a relevant issue, the second part of Zaltman and Duncan's (1977) argument to use persuasion when involvement is low explains why the persuasive message was found to have the greatest effect on attitude toward the message. Specifically, only 67 (20.4%) of the 329 participants in this study have access to a boat on a regular basis. Two hundred forty three (73.9%) participants do not have access to a boat, and 19 (5.8%) did not respond to the question. Since nearly 75% of responses indicated that participants do not have access to a boat on a regular basis, it is likely that participants primarily have low levels of involvement regarding boating. H ypotheses 3 and 4, as well as P4.1 and P4 .2, focus on the premise of the situational theory of publics. Previous r esearch related to the theory indicate d that t he items that measure the constructs of the theory often demonstrate low int ernal reliability (Aldoory & Sha, 2007) This study is no different, demonstrating weak to moderate

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! 82 internal reliability for the items used to test the independent variables of the theory. The four items included to test problem recognition produced an alpha scale reliability coefficient of .39 demonstrating "weak" inte rnal reliability. The three item index for constraint recognition yie lded an alpha scale reliability of .72 demonstrating "moderate" internal reliability. The level of involvement variable produced similar results as the problem recognition variable with an alpha c oefficient of .71, "moderate" internal reliability. The complexity of testing per ceptual variables per haps suffices as reasoning for the weak to moderate internal reliability among the independent variables associated with the situational theory of publics. In addition, the wording of the items used to measure the situational theory constructs may be difficul t to determine for participants, especially because these items target different topics For example, level of involvement item four, I4, stated, "I do not have any involvement with situations involving safe ty precautions." Level of involvement item 5, I5, stated, "Being a safe boater affects me." The first involvement statement uses the words, safety,' and, precautions.' The second involvement statement uses the word s boater,' and, affects.' These relat ional items ask unique questions stemming from having involvement toward safety in general to having invo lvement regarding boater safety. Hypothesis 3 stated that problem recogni tion, constraint recognition and level of involvement influence information seeking behavior in publics. This hypothesis was supported by the results of this study, increasing the validity of the relationships predicted by the theory. Specifically, n early 17% of the variance in information seeking beh avior w as found to be due to the three independent variables problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement.

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! 83 As discussed in the literature review, level of involvement has been found to be the strongest predictor of information seeking beh avior among the independent variables in the situational theory of publics ( Grunig, 1997; Werder, 2005; Schuch, 2007 ; Aldoory & Sha, 2007 ). This premise is supported by the results of this study Constraint recognition was found to have an inverse relationship with the information seeking measure, and was th e second strongest predictor; this, too, s upports previous research related to the theory. Petty and Cacioppo (1996) argue that h igh levels of involvement lead to eas ier identification of a problem I ndividuals high in need for cognition recall more message arguments, generate a greater number of issue relevant thoughts, and seek more information about complex issues than those with low need for cognition ( Petty & Caci oppo, 1996) As the premise of the theory suggests, h ighly involved individuals practice more information seeking behavior s Important, however, is that individuals rarely seek out information that does not directly affect them (L.A. Gru nig et al., 2002 ). As previously mentioned, results indicate d that only 67 (20.4%) of the 329 participants in this study have access to a boat on a regular basis. The access to a boat response demonstrates the minimal involvement among participants, a significant indicator of behavioral intent regarding boating and safety. I tem four on the questionnaire, PR4 also made a significant contribution to the regression equation. This item stated "I do not view boater safety as a problematic issue. As mentioned in previous discussions, issue relevant items have been found to demonstrate more significance than items measuring the organization or the message

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! 84 throughout this study. L iterature related to the role of activism supports the importance of issue relevant to pics in public relations research (Holtzhausen, 2000). Activists join small groups based on their motivation and dedication tow ard a topic of interest (Holtzhausen & Voto, 2002 ). A n activist public seeks to influence another public or publics through ac tion ( J.E. G runig, 1992; L.A Grunig et al., 2002). More important activist groups are loyal to a cause rather than to a particular o rganization (Holtzhausen & Voto, 2002), and activists' goals are achieved via strategic planning and implementation of a d esired pos ition on a topic. Organizational activists strive to solicit others to become active in an issue specific cause (Werder, 200 6 ). Proposition 4.1 stated that t hrea t and punishment strategies would have the strongest effect on information seeking behavior. T he coo perative problem solving message produced the highest mean score, fol lowed by the persuasive message; however, evidence suggested that the proposition did garner limited support. The cooperative message stated "We are cooperating closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to spread awareness about the importance of safe boating. If you would like to help us in this cooperative effort, please join our organization. Together, we can reduce boating injuries and fatalities." Like this study, the coope rative problem solving message was found to have the strongest effect on information seeking behavior in Werder's (2005) study on the perceived attributes of publics on pub lic relations message strategies Her findings indicated that the cooperative proble m solving strategy was successful when it was perceived that the target public had high problem recognition. In this study, support for problem recognition item four an independent variable was achiev ed.

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! 85 Nonetheless, o f the eight treatments used in this st udy, the threat and punishment message pr oduced the fifth highest mean score o n information seeking behavior. Proposition 4.2 stated that facilitative and cooperative problem solving strategies would have the greatest influence o n problem recognition Fou r problem recognition items were tested. Results indicated that the threat and punishment strategy produced the greatest influence on the first problem recognition item tested. This item stated, "I believe there is a problem with the way people perceive the importance of boater safety." The mean score for the informative strategy was the greatest for problem re cognition item two. This item stated, "I do not believe that operating without the proper safety equipment on board a boat is a threat to individuals." The mean score for the threat and punishment strategy wa s the greatest in problem recognition item three and this i tem stated, "I believe there is a problem with current methods to facilitate boater safety messages." Finally, the cooperative p roblem solving strategy produced the greatest mean score for the fourth problem recognition item, "I do not view saf ety as a problematic issue." The mea n scores for the facilitative message across the fo ur problem recognition items were located am ong the middle of the message strategies : T he facilitative message had the third highest mean score for problem recogni tion item one, the fourth highest mean score for problem recognition item two, the third highest mean score for problem recognition item three, and the fourth highest mean score fo r problem recognition item four. Thus, t he facilitative strategy did not hav e the highest mean score for any of the four problem recognition items, and the cooperative problem solving stra tegy produced the highest mean score f or just one of the four problem recognition items. Since the threat

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! 86 and punishment strategy had the highes t mean scores for two of the problem recognition items, results indicated that it had the greatest influence on problem recognition. This is logical since threat and punishment strategies work well on passive audiences where the source creates a negative message in order to coerce the intended audience to a ct or make a change in its attitudes, beliefs, or behavioral intent ; therefore, proposition 4.2 was not supported.

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! 87 Chapter 6 Conclusions E xperiment s are conducted to establish that two or more variables are related to one another in predictable ways. Stacks (2002) argues that experimentation requires the testing of theoretical relationships in such a way as to be sure that what is expe cted by the researcher is the case because the relationships truly exist; not because something irrelevant influenced the relationships (p. 198). Experimentation provides for a foundatio n to claim that the intended message strategies have truly caused a change in the p ublic 's perce ption or behavior, and this was a goal for this study. This study contributed to theory driven research in public relations by examining the influence of message strategies on individuals' beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions regarding boater safety. A co l lection of scholarship relating to how and why individuals communicate, and what motivating factor s contribute to organ izational effectiveness through communication was discussed. Specifically, Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action and J.E. Grunig's (1997) si tuational theory of publics were used t o assess h ow receiver variables affected boater safety messaging. The premise s of both theoretical frameworks tested the theory of rea soned action and the situational theory of publics yielded complex, yet specific findings. As discussed, the theory of reasoned action has be en tested over a spectrum of disciplines, and is used as a prediction for individuals' behavioral intent. Findings in this study

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! 88 overwhelmingly supported the th eory, all of its variables demonstrating high internal reliability. Specifically, salient beliefs were found to significantly influence t he three attitude items measured attitude toward message, attitude toward issue, and attitude to ward organization. Of the attitude measures, s alient beliefs demonstrated the greatest effect on the attitude towa rd issue mea sure In addition, t his study determined that subjective norm most effectively predicted individuals' behavi oral intent regarding safe boating, and this may be due to the emphasis that the most important referents have placed on boater safety as a salient issue. The situational theory of publics though often critiqued for the low internal reliability measuring its independent variables, also produced appealing findings that may extend public relations Like Werder's (2003) and Schuch's (2007) study the results of this study indicated t hat level of involvement w as the best predictor for information seeking behavio rs. This is a crucial finding since practitioners continuously strive for organizati onal effectiveness, and a vital aspect of strategic public relations is model ing mes sages to reach intended publics (Hallahan, 2000). T he manufacturing of a mock org anization, the Safe Boating Advocacy Group, and use of message strategies coinciding with Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model created noteworthy results. It is recommended that organizations use coercive strategies, now known as power strategies, to communicate information about issue relevant topics. Specifically, organizations creating messages about boater safety for passive audiences should consider using the threat and punishment and promise and reward strategies P articipants in this study correctly matched the threat and punishment strategy more than an y other strategy during the manipulation check. This

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! 89 strategy o ften demonstrated a strong relations hip with the variables measured, especially items measuring problem recognition. In addition, r esults indicated that the promise and reward strategy produced more positive attitudes than the threat and punishment strategy across the three attitude measures attitude toward issue, attitude toward organization, and attitude toward message Similarly, r esults from Schuch's (2007) examination of message strategy influence on variables related to the receiver of activist communication indicated that activist organizations would be most successful using persuasive and coercive strategies. Schu ch (2007) argues that a ctivists can use their issue and the outcome of the issue to persuade publics to act in a guided manner. The organizations defined in chapter two of this study, the NSBC and the U.S. Coast Guard, have taken an increasingly activist r ole in creating positive attitudes about boater safety, which in turn might reduce the number of boating injuries and fatalities each year. Areas for Further Research T his study's findings indicated that messages produced by an organization are better than simply not communicating at all. The overall control, in which participants did not receive a message from the organization, was continuously found to have the least significant effect on individuals' information seeking behaviors and behavioral intent. A s discussed, messages should be geared to the correct audience and the content of the messages must be understood and cognitively processed by the receiver of the message. Strategy use and effectiveness should be tested in diverse settings, using a variet y of methodologies in order to gain a better understanding of how message strategies cont ribute to public relations. Enhancing the relevance of the message to individuals is a technique that has been shown to increase involvement and message elaboration

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! 90 (Hallahan, 2000). Research ers should develop more thorough messages that coincide with the academic definitions propose d by Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model. T he use of highly involved recreational boaters or individuals employed in boating related professions may be more of an appr opriate sample for future studies concerning boater safety messagi ng Nonetheless, t he replication and exte nsion of studies, using thoroughly tested theoretical framework, enhances the validity of public relations as a strategic process. Limitations of the Study Several limitation s o f this study must be addressed, t he me ssa ge strategies and the sample, the two obvious limitations. The messages produced little significant differences in means across treatment conditions in this study. The manipulation check determined that the majority of participants grasped the matching exercise and successfully matched the treatment m essage operational definition with its correct conceptual definition; however, the results from the actual experiment suggest ed otherwise. This limitation is likely due to the lack of research on the strategies or the lack of differentiation created in the wording for each message treatment. In addition, p articipants' role in the experiment to analyze the messages may not have been thorou gh ly acknowledged nor understood. Future studies need to focus on participants' ability or inability to cognitively process message s prior to the researcher requ iring feedback. T he sample of college students used as participants for t he study is a third limit ation. The results cannot be generali zed beyond the subjects tested. Though the use

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! 91 of students in undergraduat e mass communication courses indeed creates a large sample of the population for particip ation, a segmented portion of the entire campus does not necessarily constitute a random sample of the entire student population at a large southeastern university Although they may be seen as a primary demographic target group for communication about this issue colle ge students do not represent the entire pu blic of recreational boaters, boater safety or ganizations, advocacy groups, and individuals with some sort of boating interest. The fourth limitation concerns the motivation of the sample to wholeheartedly participate in the study without receiving an y incentive s. T opics not of high priority or interest to participants will receive less attention than topics important to individuals in the sample. In addition, L.A. Grunig et al. (2002) argue that individuals rarely seek out information that does not dir ectly affect them. The second in volvement question, number six on the questionnaire stated "I am concerned about boater safety but not personally affected by it." According to the comparison of strategy type with all of th e variable s tested problem recog nition, constraint recognition, level of involvement, and information seeking behavior the results f or this item produced the most si gnificant results Participants' l evel of involvement toward safety and boating undoubtedly influenced responses. Participa nts were found to be a passive audience in regards to boater safety, the Safe Boating Advocacy Group, and its related message strategies. Therefore, a limitation to this study is the very sample itself.

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! 92 S ubjective norm was measured in this study, but perh aps it is a limitation as well. Due to the wording and content of the treatments, it is unknown if participants responded in ways in which the most important referent s peers, and the media would suggest. Last, the issue of selection bias an error in choosing the individuals or groups to take part in the study, is a limitation. Participants were randomly assigned treatment conditions, and two contro l groups were utilized; however there is the possibility that some participants had preexisting attitudes regarding safety, and specifically, preconceived attitudes about boater safet y. Therefore, it is likely that some participants responded to the questionnaire based on their own attitudinal responses rather than drawing conclusions from the treatment con di tions created for this study. Even with the stated limitations, this study intends to add to theory driven research in mass communicat ion. Specifically, it extends the role of Hazleton's (1992) public relations strategies to an un der studied topic, boa ter safety and add s to the robust amount of literature on the theory of reasoned action and the situa tional theory of public s.

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! 93 References Ajzen, I. (2005). Attitudes, personality, and behavior (2 nd Ed.). Milton Keynes, England: Open University Pres s/ McGraw Hill. Ajzen, I., & Fishbein, M. (1980). Understanding attitudes and predicting social behavior. Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc. Aldoory, L. & Sha, B. (2007). The situational theory of publics: Practical applications methodological challenges, and theoretical horizons. In E.L. Toth (Ed.), The future of excellence in public relations and communication management: Challenges for the next generation (pp. 339 355). Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Anderson, R. B. (2000). Vicarious and persuasive influences on efficacy expectations and intentions to perform breast self examination. Public Relations Review 26 (1), 97 114 Andreasen, A. (1994). Marketing social change: Changing behavior to promote health, so cial development, and the environment. San Francisco: Jossey Bass. Booth Butterfield, S., & Reger, B. (2004). The message changes belief and the rest is theory: The "1% or less" milk campaign and reasoned action. Preventative Medicine, 39 581 588. Boynton, L., & Dougall, E. (2006). The methodological avoidance of experiments in public relations research. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Prism 4 (1). Retrieved August 24, 2010, from http://praxis.massey.ac.nz/prism_on linejourn.html Brinberg, D., & Durand, J. (1983). Eating at fast food restaurants: An analysis using two behavioral intention models. Journal of Applied Social Psychology 13 459 472. Carr, N. (2010). The Web shatters focus, rewires brains Wired Magazine p. 1 6. Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1975). Belief, attention, intention, and behavior: An introduction to theory and research. Reading, MA: Addison Wesley. Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (2005). Theory based behavior change interventions: Comments on Hobbis and Sutton. Journal of Health Psychology, 10 27 31.

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! 94 Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (2009). Boating Safety Resource Center. Retrieved August 10, 2010, f rom http://myfwc.com Forgas, J. P. (1983) Social skills and the perception of interaction episodes. British Journal of Clinical Psychology 22 195 207. Green, S., Salkind, N., & Akey, T. (2000). Using SPSS for Windows: Analyzing and understanding data. ( 2 nd Ed ) Upper Sa ddle River, N.J.: Prentice Hall, Inc. Greenfield, P. (2009). Technology and informal education: What is taught, what is learned. In N. Carr, The W eb shatters focus, rewires brai ns (p. 1 6). Wired Magazine, 2010. Grunig, J. E. (1978). Defining publics in public relations: The case of a suburban hospital. Journalism Quarterly 55, 109 118. Grunig, J.E. (1992). Excellence in public relations and communication management. Hillsdale, N.J.: L awrence Erlbaum Associates Inc. Grunig, J.E. (1997). A situation theory of publics: Conceptual history, recent challenges, and new research. In D. Moss, T. McManus, & D. Vercic (Ed.), Public relations research: An i nternational persp ective (p. 3 48). Boston: International Thomson Business. Grunig, J. E., & Hunt, T. (1984). Managing public relations New York: Holt, Rinehart, & Winston. Grunig, J.E., Toth, E. L., & Grunig, L.A. (2007). The future of excellence in public relations and communication management: Challenges for the next generation. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Grunig, L.A. (1992). Activism: How it limits the effectiveness of organizations and how excellent public relations departments resp ond. In J.E. Grunig (Ed.), Excellence in public relations and communication management (p. 503 530). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Grunig, L.A., Grunig, J.E., & Dozier, D.M. ( 2002). Excellent public relations and effective organizati ons: A study of communication management in three countries. Mahwah, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates, Inc. Guilfoil, E. (2009) Boater Safety Public Service Announcements: A Qualitative Content Analysis. Retrieved August 10, 2009. Qualitative Methods, Fa ll 2009. Hallahan, K. (2000). En hancing motivation, ability, and opportunity to process public relations messages. Public Relations Review, 26 (4), 463 480.

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! 95 Hallahan, K. (2000b). Inactive publics: The forgotten publics in public relations. Public Relations Review 26 449 512. Hazle ton, V. (1992). Toward a system theory of public relations. In H. Avenarius & W. Ambrecht (Eds.), 1 st Public Relations eine Wissenschaft? [Is public relations a science?] [ p. 33 46]. Berlin: Westdeutscher Verlag. Hazle ton, V. (1993). Symbolic Resources: Processes in the development and use of symbolic resources. In W. Armbrecht, H. Avenarius, & U. Zabel, Kann Image Gegenstand einer Public Relations Wissenschaft sein? [Image and PR] [ p. 88 100]. Berlin: Westdeuts cher Verlag. Hazleton, V., Cupach, W. R., & Canary, D.J. (1987). Situation perception: Interactions between competence and messages. Journal of Language and Social Psychology 6 (1), 57 63. Hazleton, V. & Long, L.W. (1988). Concepts for public relatio ns education, research, and practice: A communication point of view. Central States Speech Journal, 39 77 87. Holtzhausen, D. (2000). Postmodern values in public relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 12 93 114. Holtzhausen, D. R., Voto, R (2002). Resistance from the margins: The postmodern public relations practitioner as organizational activist. Journal of Public Relations Research 14 (1), 57 84. Holtzhausen, D. R. & Werder, K. P. (2009). An analysis of the influence of public relations department leadership style on public relations strategy use and effectiveness. Journal of Public Relations Research 21 (4), 404 427. Lauzen, M. M. (1997). Understanding the relation between public relations and issues management. Journal of P ublic Relations Research 9 (1), 65 82. Long, L.W. & Hazle ton, V. (1987). Public relations: A theoretical and practical response. Public Relations Review 3 13. Manstead, A. S. R., Proffitt, C., & Smart, J. L. (1983). Predicting and understanding mot hers' infant feeding intentions and behavior: Testing the theory of reasoned action. Journal of Personality and Social Psychology 44 657 671. Maus, J. (2009). Florida boating accidents and deaths on the rise. Knol Stuff. Retrieved October 5, 2009, fro m http://knolstuff.com Molyneaux, H., O'Donnell, S., & Gibson, K. (2009). YouTube vlogs: An analysis of the

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! 96 gender divide. Media Report to Women Spring 2009. Nunnal l y, J. (1978). Psychometric theory. New York: McGraw Hill. Page, K. G., & Hazlet on, V. (1999). An empirical analysis of the factors influencing public relations strategy usage and effectiveness. Paper presented to the Public Relations Division, International Communication Association, San Francisco CA. Pearson, R. (1990). Ethical values or strategic values? The two faces of systems theory in public relations. Public Relations Research Annual Report 2 (10), 219 234. Perloff, R.M. (2008). The dynamics of persuasion New York: Rutledge. Petty, R.E. & Cacioppo J.T. (1996). Attitudes and persuasion: Classic and contemporary approaches. Boulder, CO: Westview Press. Rose, G. (2007). Visual methodologies: An introduction to the interpretation of visual materials. T h ousand Oaks, CA: Sage Pub lications. Schuch, A. (2007). An experimental analysis of activist message strategy effect on receiver variables. Unpublished M.A. thesis. University of South Florida. Sperber, B. M., Fishbein, M., & Ajzen, I. (1980). Predicting and understanding women's occupational orientations: Factors underlying choice intentions. In Perloff (3 rd Ed.) The dynamics of persuasion (p. 134). New York: Rutledge. Stacks, D. W. (2002). Primer of public relations N ew Y ork : Guilford Press. State of Florida (2010). P ublic Resource of the American Safety Council for Florida Residents and Visitors. Retrieved August 13, 2010, from http://www.stateofflorida.com/ U.S. Census Bureau (2010). U.S. Census Bureau: Fact Sheet. Retrieved on October 16, 2010, from http://factfinder.census.gov/home/saff/main.html?_lang=en U.S. Coast Guard (2009). Boating Safety Resource Center : Accident Statistics. Retrieved on August 10, 2010, from http://www.uscgboating.org/statistics/default.aspx Werder, K. P. (200 3 ). Responding to activism: An experimental analysis of public relations strategy influence on beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions. Paper presented at the meeting of the Public Relations Division, International Commu nication Association, San Diego, CA.

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! 97 Werder, K.P. (2005). An empirical analysis of the influence of perceived attributes of publics on public relations strategy use and effectiveness. Journal of Public Relations Research 17 (3), 217 266. Werder, K. P. (2006). Responding to activism: An experimental analysis of public rel ations strategy influence on attributes of publics. Journal of Public Relations Research 18 (4), 335 356. Werder, K. P. (2008). The effect of doing good: An experimental analysis of the influence of corporate social responsibility initiatives on belie fs, attitudes, and behavioral intention. International Journal of Strategic Communications 2 115 135. Wesch, M. (2007). Digital Ethnography. Kansas State University. Created May 18, 2007. Retrieved on November 2, 2009, from http://mediatedcultures.net/ksudigg/?p=108 West, S., Finch, J., & Curran, P. (1995). Structural equation models with nonnormal V ariables p 56 75. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Zaltman, G., & Duncan, R. (1977). Strategies for planned change New York: Wiley.

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! 98 A ppendix A: Experimental Script

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! 99 1. Beginning of Experiment Activity a) Obtain copies of Instrument for Mass Communication and Society students. b) Ensure that an adequate number of seats are availab le in classroom prior to experiment day. c) Have all experiment related materials available prior to m eeting students. d) Verify that appropriate suppleme ntary equipment, accessories, and devices are present to conduct experiment and record data. e) Meet students in their classroom before regularly scheduled class begins. 2. User Study Execution : Initial Preparation a) Give students tw o minutes to find a seat in classroom, turn off all electronic devices, and get f ocused for class. b) Greet students ( participants) and introduce researcher (myself) that will be conducting the study. c) Formally welcome participan ts to the study and explain p urpose of experiment. d) Explain importance of study, researcher's role, and content of questionnaire by reading the following: On the next page of this booklet, you will see a message from a snapshot of the Safe Boating Advocacy Group's Web site Please spend a few minutes reading the message. After you have read the message, please complete the questions about your opinion regarding boater safety and the Safe Boating Advocacy Group found on pages 3 7 of this booklet. Your opinion is most important and wi ll help to understand what people like you think about boater safety. Please read the informed consent statement below for information on your rights as a participant in this study. Your help is greatly appreciated

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! 100 in understanding the views people like yo u have about safe boating! e) Reiterate the Informed Consent Statement below: Informed Consent Statement This research is be ing conducted by Emily Guilfoil under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Werder, 813 974 6790, School of Mass Communications, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33620. Your responses are voluntary and will remain confidential to the extent provided by law. You do not have to answer any questions you do not wish to answer, a nd you have the right to withdraw consent at any time without consequence. There are no anticipated risks associated with your participation in this research and you will receive no compensation for your participation. Neither your course status nor your g rade will be affected by your decision to participate or not to participate in this stud y. If you have any questions concerning the procedures used in this study, you may contact the principle investigator at e mail address eguilfoi@mail.usf.edu or supervising professor at kgpage@usf.edu Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant can be directed at the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board 813 974 5638. e) A llow one minute for students opting out of participation to quietl y leave classroom until completion of study. f) Read the following instructions to participants: Instructions Please answer the following questions by circling the number from one to seven that best describes your agreement with the statement. Be sure to answer all items, reading each question carefully, and circling only one number on a single scale.

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! 101 g) Explain that questionnaire will take approximately 20 minutes to complet e. h) Inst ruct participants to notify re searcher upon completion of questionnaire. 3. Questionnaire a) A sk participants to fill out questionnaire and explain that they should ask for clarification if they do not understand a particular question. b) Ensure that participan ts know to ask questions if confused. c) En courage participants to spend a minute or two fa miliarizing themselves with instructions to gain a better understanding of how to answer each section. d) If a participant asks a question, init ially try to draw his or her attention to the instructions section. e) If problems persist, the researcher may need to help the participant directly. Write down any occurrences, specifying problems encountered by participants. f) When participants have compl eted the study, recover instruction sheets and questionnaires. Have particip ants pass both documents to end of row for easy collection. 4. End of the Experiment Activity a) Collect all questionnaires, instruction sheets, and notes together in one manila folder. b) Thank students for par ticipating and explain that experiment has concluded. c) Ask non participating students to enter back into classroom. d) Explain that class is n ow moving on to its regularly scheduled agenda. e) Exit classroom f) Back up experimental data to secondary data source.

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! 102 Appendix B: Manipulation Check Instrument

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! 1 03 Items 1 6 in the left column are definitions for six public relations message strategies. The items in the right are messages f rom the Safe Boating Advocacy Group. Please write the number of the strategy that best matches and defines each message in the right column _____________________ ___________________________________________________ ____ Background: More than 4,730 boating accidents occurred in 2009, resulting in 3,358 injuries and 736 deaths. Studies indicate that boater safety education and precautionary measures can reduce the ris k of boating accidents ______________________________________________________________________________________ 1. An informative strategy is based on the presentation of unbiased facts. Informative messages do not draw conclusions, but presume the public will infer appropriate conclusions from accurate data. They are characterized by objectivity and the use of neutral language. 2. A facil itative strategy is accomplished by making resources available to a public that allow it to act in ways that it is already predisposed to act. Resources may be tangible items, such as tools or money, or they may be directions or information needed to accom plish specific tasks. 3. A persuasive strategy is characterized by appeals to a public's values or emotions. This strategy may include a selective presentation of information. It may use language that is not neutral and reflects the importance of the iss ue and/ or the involvement of the source in the situation. Persuasive messages are directive in the sense that they provide a call for action either indirectly or directly. 4. A promise and reward strategy uses positive coercion and involved the exercise of power to gain compliance. It includes a request for action and a related outcome that may be directly or indirectly linked to an individual's performance of the request. This strategy implies that the source of the message controls an outcome desired o r liked by the receiver of the message. 5. A threat and punishment strategy uses negative coercion and involves the exercise of power and threat to gain compliance. It includes a request for action and a related outcome that may be directly or indirectly linked to an individual's performance of the request. This strategy implies that the source of the message controls an outcome feared or disliked by the receiver of the message. 6. A cooperative problem solving strategy reflects a willingness to jointly define problems and solutions to problems. These messages are characterized by an open exchange of information to establish a common definition of the problem, common goals, and to share positions and responsibilities abo ut the issue. These strategies use inclusive symbols, such as we' and us'. ________ We are cooperating closely with the U.S. Coast Guard to spread awareness abo ut the importance of safe boating. If you would like to help us in this cooperative effort, p lease join our organization. Together, we can reduce boating injuries and fatalities .' ________ Studies show that 90 percent of boating accident victims will drown if not wearing a life jacket. If you don't join our organizatio n and learn about boater sa fety, you may become the next boating fatality!' ________ Studies show that 90 percent of boating accident victims will drown if not wearing a life jacket When you join our organization, you will receive a free t shirt and boating safety information ki t.' ________ When boating fatalities occur f riends and family members are left to suffer the loss of a loved one. Help reduce boating fatalities by joining our organization and learning about boater safety.' ________ All of the resources you need to learn about the importance of safe boating and how you can become a safe boater can be found in this Web site.' ________ Ninety percent of drowning fatalities due to boating accident s could have been prevented if the vi ctim was wearing a life jacket.'

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! 104 Appendix C : Informative Treatment

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! 106 ! ! ! ! ! ! ! Appendix D : Facilitative Treatment

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! 108 ! Appendix E : Persuasive Treatment

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! 110 Appendix F : Promise and Reward Treatment

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! 112 Appendix G : Threat and Punishment Treatment !

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! 114 Appendix H : Cooperative Problem Solving Treatment !

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! 116 Appendix I : Strategy Type Control

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! 118 Appendix J : Instrument

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! 119 Strategy Strategy # Total # Boater Safety Questionnaire On the next page of this booklet, you will see a message on the Safe Boating Advocacy Group's W eb site Please spend a few minutes reading the message. After you have read the message, please complete the questions about your opinion regarding boater safety and the Safe Boating Advocacy Group found on pages 3 7 of thi s booklet. Your opinion is important and will help to understand what people like you think about boater safety. Please read the informed consent statement below for information on your rights as a participant in this study. Your help is greatly appreciated in understanding the views people like you have about safe boating! INFORMED CONSENT STATEMENT This research is be ing conducted by Emily Guilfoil under the supervision of Dr. Kelly Werder, 813 974 6790, School of Mass Communications, University of South Florida, 4202 E. Fowler Ave., Tampa, FL 33620. Your responses are voluntary and will remain confidential to the extent provided by law. You do not have to answer any questions you do not wish to answer, and you have the right to withdraw consent at any time without consequence. There are no anticipated risks associated with your participation in this research and you will receive no compensation for your participation. Neither your course status nor your grade will be affected by your decision to participate or not to participate in th is study. If you have any questions concerning the procedures used in this study, you may contact the principle investigator at e mail address eguilfoi@mail.usf.edu or supervising professor at kgpage@usf.edu Questions or concerns about your rights as a research participant can be directed at the University of South Florida Institutional Review Board, 813 974 5638.

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! 120 Please check the appropriate category: Do you have access to a boat on a regular basis? Yes_____ No____ PART 1 Instructions: Please answer the following questions by circling the number from one to seven that best describes your agreement with the statement. Some of the questions may appear to be similar, but th ey do address somewhat different issues. Be sure to answer all items, reading each question carefully, and circling only one number on a single scale. Problem Recognition: 1) I believe there is a problem with the way people perceive the importance of bo ater safety. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 2) I do not believe that operating without the proper safety equipment on board a boat is a threat to individuals. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 3) I believe there is a problem with current methods to facilitate boater safety messages. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 4) I do not view boater safety as a problematic issue. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree Level of Involvement: 5) I am personally affected by situations involving boating. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 6) I am concerned about boater safety, but am not personally affected by it. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 7) I do not have any involvement with situations involving boating. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree

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! 121 8) I do not have any involvement with situations involving safety precautions. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 9) Being a safe boater affects me. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree Constraint Recognition: 10) I do not think there is anything I can do to prevent boating accidents. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 11) I am able to make a differe nce in situations involving safe boating. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 12) My actions will reduce the likelihood of getting into a boating accident. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 13) My actions will be too inco nsequential to impact the number of recreational boating accidents that occur annually in the U.S. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree Salient Beliefs: 14) I b elieve boater safety is important. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 15) I believe communicating messages about boater safety is important. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agr ee 16) I believe boating accidents are a growing problem. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 17) I believe recreational boaters should take safety education seriously. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree

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! 122 18) I believe there should remain a mutual respect between a boater and the water. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree Subjective Norm: 19) If aware of situations involving boating accidents, people who are important to me would think there is a problem. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 20) If my friends and family knew about the Safe Boating Advocacy Group, they would want me to support i t. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree PART 2 Information Seeking Behavior/ Behavioral Intent: 1) I plan to seek out additional information about ways that I can become a safer boater. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 2) I plan to visit a Web site for further information on safety skills for boating. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 3) I would send an email requesting fur ther information on situations involving boater safety. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 4) I would forward an email about situations involving safe boating practices to my friends. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 5) I would donate money to families who experienced an injury in their family due to a boating accident. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree

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! 123 6) I would donate money to families who experienced a death in their family due to a boating accident. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 7) I would attend a meeting of the U.S. Coast Guard. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 8) I would take a boater safety course on the Internet. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree 9) I would take a boater safety course in a classroom. Strongly Disagree 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Strongly Agree PART 3 Instructions: Please answer the following questions by circling the number from one to seven that best describes your agreement with the statement. For example, circling one on the scale indicates the most negative response and circling seven on the scale indicates the most positive response. Be sure to answer all items, reading each question carefully, and circling only one number on a single scale. Attitude Toward Strategy: 1) The message I read from the Safe Boating Advocacy Group is : Not Informative 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Informative Unbalanced 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Balanced Not Credible 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Credible Untrustworthy 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Trustworthy Attitude Toward Behavior: 2) My attitude toward the Safe Boating Advocacy Group is: Unfavorable 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Favorable Negative 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Positive Bad 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Good

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! 124 3) My attitude toward situations involving boater safety is: Unfavorable 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 F avorable Negative 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Positive Bad 1 : 2 : 3 : 4 : 5 : 6 : 7 Good PART 4 Demographics: 1) Gender (please circle): Male Female 2) Age : __________ 3) Ethnicity (please circle): White, Caucasian Black, African American Hispanic Asian Pacific Islander Native American Other__________ 4) Major: __________ 5) Class Standing (please circle): Freshman Sophomore Junior Senior Graduate Other______ ___ 6) Birth State (please spell out): ___ ___ __ Thank you for your participation in this study


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ABSTRACT: This study explored the effect of public relations message strategies on beliefs, attitudes, and behavioral intentions of individuals regarding boater safety. An experiment was conducted using seven safety messages. Specifically, Fishbein and Ajzen's (1975) theory of reasoned action and J.E. Grunig's (1997) situational theory of publics were used to examine the communication effects of message strategies proposed by Hazleton and Long's (1988) public relations process model. The findings of this study support the predictions of the theory of reasoned action-that salient beliefs predict attitude toward behavior and attitude toward behavior and subjective norm predict behavioral intent. Of the three attitude items measured-attitude toward message, attitude toward issue, and attitude toward organization-salient beliefs had the greatest effect on the attitude toward issue measure. Subjective norm was shown to be the stronger predictor of the three attitude items. In addition, support was found for the predictions of the situational theory of publics. The independent variables-problem recognition, constraint recognition, and level of involvement-were found to predict information seeking behaviors. However, the use of public relations message strategies in boater safety communication produced minimal effects on the same variables. It was determined that the power strategies, threat and punishment and promise and reward, would be most effective when communicating to a passive public such as the sample tested in this study. This study is significant to public relations literature because it examined how active boaters and non-boaters perceive safety messages. There appeared to be no research on the use of safe boating messages. Thus, there was no research on how public relations messages about boater safety affect boaters' attitudes, awareness, and behavioral intentions prior to the implementation of this study. Determining effective boater safety messages will help to reduce boater accidents, injuries, and fatalities in years to come (U.S. Coast Guard, 2009), making this study both necessary and original.
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