Ruonan Zhang, a visiting assistant professor in the Department of Communication, was recently recognized with an award for Best PhD Paper at the 13th Annual China Goes Global Conference.
Zhang’s paper, “Prioritizing Publics with the Maximus Political Public Relations Impact: An Investigation of US-China Trade War & Social Media Discussions,” seeks to determine China’s best strategy for distributing information about the trade dispute between the U.S. and China by looking at online and offline discussions related to the conflict.
The quantitative study revealed that people with low personal involvement but a high level of issue recognition of the trade conflict are more likely to have a positive attitude toward China's stance on the dispute. Additionally, the data suggested that online communication regarding the issue has a negative impact on attitudes toward China’s position. In the paper, Zhang concluded that the best political public relations practice would be for China to distribute information about the trade conflict through mainstream media rather than through online media channels.