Bridging Strategy for Public Engagement: Understanding the Effects of Bridging Strategy on Staunch and Hostile Publics’ Behavioral and Relational Outcomes
This study focuses on students as potential extreme publics – staunch publics, or those who evaluate a positive relationship with the university, and hostile publics, those who evaluate negative relationship with the university. The impact of the university’s communication strategy on perceptions of authenticity, organizational capacity, likelihood of being staunch or hostile publics, and student publics’ communicative actions for or against the university were examined. Surveys conducted with 611 university students reveal that students are more likely to be staunch supporters of the university when the latter adopts a bridging strategy. These staunch publics were also more likely to engage in positive communicative actions about the university. Conversely, hostile publics, those who evaluated their relationships with the university negatively, were more likely to engage in negative communicative actions. Practical implications for public relations practitioners, including recommendations about communication practice to encourage more publics to become fans are discussed.