Professor named associate editor for social media research center

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- An assistant professor in the College of Communications at Penn State was named an associate editor for an innovative social media research center that will maintain an online database of high-quality, newsworthy studies that pertain to social media and related topics.

Marcia W. DiStaso, an assistant professor in the Department of Advertising/Public Relations, will help maintain the interactive database for the Social Science of Social Media Research Center, created by the Institute for Public Relations.

The website begins with summaries of more than 30 articles or books about social media from public relations research literature. Plans are under way to add information about social media research from practitioners and academic disciplines, including journalism, mass communication, business and the social sciences. Each article summary includes and extended abstract, comments about the research methodology, key findings and implications for the practice.

The site also provides opportunities for public relations practitioners, business leaders and academics to comment on the research, explain how they will use it and suggest additional research.

"Organizations cannot ignore social media anymore," DiStaso said, "but learning how to best handle this rapidly changing environment can be tricky. By accessing the research center, public relations professionals and academics can learn what is happening in social media research that affects companies. To make it easy, the studies are briefly described in terms of what it means to the profession."

DiStaso is also a senior research fellow in the Arthur W. Page Center for Integrity in Public Communication, a research center housed in the College of Communications, and chairwoman of the Financial Communications Section of the Public Relations Society of America.

Her research focuses on the topics of social media and financial services. She is currently working on research that highlights what needs to be done to obtain a mutually beneficial relationship between Wikipedia and public relations professionals.

The research team for the social media center also includes Donald K. Wright, the Harold Burson Professor and chairman in public relations at Boston University, who serves as editor, and Tina McCorkindale, an assistant professor of communication at Appalachian State University, who serves as associate editor.

For more information, visit The steering committee for the center consists of APCO Worldwide, Hormel, Johnson & Johnson, Rockwell Automation and Southern Co.

The Institute for Public Relations is an independent foundation dedicated to the sciense beneath the art of public relations and focused on research that is applicable in communications practice. Its research is available free at and provides the basis for the organization's professional conferences and events.

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Last Updated January 09, 2015