John Wirtz wins award

Professor John Wirtz wins PRIDE awardAssistant professor John G. Wirtz and Illinois alumna Thais M. Zimbres (MS '13, advertising) received the 2018 PRIDE Research Award for Innovation, Development, and Educational Achievement at the National Communication Association annual convention in Salt Lake City in November 2018.  

The PRIDE award recognizes the journal article published the previous academic year that made the most significant contribution to public relations scholarship. More than 100 articles were considered for the award, before the committee selected the Wirtz and Zimbres article.

“It’s very gratifying when your peers recognize the value and impact of your research,” Wirtz said. “When Thais and I began working on the project several years ago, I believed that we were addressing an important issue in the public relations field. So, it’s gratifying to see this belief validated by other public relations scholars.”

The Wirtz and Zimbres article presents the first systematic review of research that used principles of dialogic communication to analyze organizational websites, blogs, and social media. Dialogic communication is an approach to organization-stakeholder communication that emphasizes honesty, openness, and mutual respect.

“When we started the project, I had no idea it would be so relevant to today’s political climate,” Wirtz said. “Dialogic communication embodies the moral imperative that public relations practitioners should embrace honesty, transparency, and accountability. Despite the poor example set by some current and previous PR practitioners and political spokespersons, as a field, we can—and must—do better.”

The 2018 PRIDE Award is the third time an article Wirtz has written or co-authored has been recognized for scholarly impact and excellence. Another dialogic communication article was honored by the Public Relations Society of America in 2013 as one of the top five articles published in 2012-13. Wirtz was also co-author of an article that received the Franklin H. Knower Distinguished Article Award in 2008 in recognition of its contribution to the fields of nonverbal and interpersonal communication.

Pictured is Professor John Wirtz (left) with Erich Sommerfeldt, associate professor at the University of Maryland and chair of the award committee.