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Changing National Images: International Public Relations and Media Agenda Setting

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  01 August 2014

Jarol B. Manheim
Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Robert B. Albritton
Northern Illinois University


Research within the agenda-setting framework has generally ignored the potential influence of purposive efforts by external actors (those outside the political system) to manipulate media coverage related to their interests. The present study uses interrupted time-series analysis to examine one such set of manipulative efforts, those undertaken by professional public relations consultants to influence the images of foreign nations as portrayed in the United States press. Data represent New York Times coverage of six nations that signed public relations contracts with American firms during the period from 1974 to 1978, and one nation that expressly rejected such a contract. The analysis identifies consistent patterns of improvement along two primary dimensions of national image, visibility and valence, which are associated in time with the public relations contracts.

Research Article
Copyright © American Political Science Association 1983

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