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Predictors of strategic influence among college sports public relations directors in college athletic departments: the impact of managerial orientation and leadership personality trait, skill, and style




Moore, Joseph H., author
Quick, Don, advisor
Hallahan, Kirk, advisor
Gloeckner, Gene, committee member
Champ, Joseph, committee member
Cunconan, Terry, committee member

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The College Sports Information Directors (CoSIDA) noted the need for PR directors to be held in higher esteem and to have more strategic influence in their athletic departments. This dissertation sought to provide some information to help CoSIDA accomplish its goal. Participants were drawn from the entire membership of the College Sports Information Directors of America (CoSIDA). An online survey to which 273 college sports public relations directors responded investigated current demographic characteristics as well their perceptions of strategic influence within college athletic departments in the U.S. The survey was drawn from the works of Berger and Reber in 2006, Blake and Mouton in 1985, Broom and Smith in 1979, Northouse in 2007, Richmond and McCroskey in 1990, and Stoldt in 1998. The survey results suggested the modern college sports public relations director is male, 30-49 years old, has a bachelor's degree in journalism or communications, and most likely makes $35-$45,000. Participants identified most closely with the media relations role, had a responsive (versus assertive) personality, were more developed in technical (versus conceptual or human/relational) leadership skills, and possessed a task-oriented (versus relationship-oriented) leadership style. Respondents reported exercising moderate amounts of influence and that they rank second only to compliance officers in terms of their influence on athletic directors. Respondents varied in their opinions but generally thought their influence had increased and were largely satisfied with the influence they exert. The strongest predictors of strategic influence were serving in the manager (versus technician) role, being male, directly reporting to the athletic director, and having frequent contact with the AD. Assuming a publicity producer role (versus manager role) was negatively correlated with strategic influence. College sports public relations directors who are more assertive (versus responsive), who have developed conceptual leadership skills (versus technical or human/relational), and who have a relationship-oriented (versus task-oriented) leadership style believe they have more of a chance of gaining a seat at the decision-making table. The study concluded college sports PR directors who develop skills as strategic communicators and managers are more likely to gain influence in the future. Implications and suggestions for further research are discussed.


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sports public relations
sports information director
strategic influence
college athletics


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