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Fröhlich, Romy; Jungblut, Marc (September 2014): Methodological Framework of WP6. Strategic Communication Development, structure and context of frames – The analysis of verbal communication material of strategic communicators in PR and Propaganda.
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Work Package six analyzes strategic communication as purposefully designed communicational advocacy that is distributed on the behalf of an organization or an institution. Our main research interests is the identification of semantic patterns in strategic content and their potential migration into other discourses – the media coverage, political debates and public discourses - and vice versa. Additionally, we seek to investigate strategic communication’s potential impact on a conflict’s dynamic and, consequently, it’s potential for de-escalation. Finally, we also apply a gender sensitive approach and analyze the portrayal of gender in strategic communication. To fulfill these objectives, we make use of an innovative multi-step content analytic approach. In a qualitative pilot-study we identified idiosyncrasies within the language used in strategic content. Our sample of strategic communication mainly consists of two groups of texts: (1) contents that simulate journalistic language and, thus, can be labeled PR and (2) messages that often use strongly connoted expressions and can be referred to as propaganda. Within our qualitative pilot study we created rules and guidelines for the identification of semantic patterns – frames, evidential claims and agendas for action – while taking the two groups of texts and its different use of language into account. In our quantitative computer-based content analysis we will use an updated version of the AmCat program called JAmCat to identify frames, agendas for actions and evidential claims in a large corpus of texts. Our main research interest consists of five dimensions. First, (1) we will analyze strategic communication in different countries on a case-based perspective focusing on the content’s idiosyncrasies in different conflict cases. In doing so, we will (2) analyze strategic communication’s narrative in different conflict phases (for example escalation, de-escalation) and examine (3) the construction of similar ideas and semantic patterns over different conflicts, debates and the conflicts’ time frames. We then will (4) compare the contents distributed by different groups of strategic actors. Here, we address the differing perspectives and communicative strategies of different strategic actors and the thus resulting differences within their distributed frames. A central aim of WP6 is a close cooperation with WPs 5, 7, and 8 to (5) examine the diffusion of strategic discourse on the same conflict into different debates – the media coverage, (other) strategic communication, political debates and social media – and thus to also investigate the functional roles of strategic communicators in the shaping of public discourse and their (different) success in enforcing/asserting their particular frames. In our qualitative in-depth analysis, we will enrich the results with more details and provide additional context while focusing on key moments, actors and ideas in the discourses. In doing so we will combine information from the quantitative stage with relevant insight from other work packages also relating to the results of INFOCORE’s interviewing groups and contextual information from the literature.