Text Box: Public Relations and Fundraising Consultant and Scholar

 Background            Research Interests            Teaching Philosophy            Consulting Projects            Contact

Drawing from my professional experiences and current public relations industry contacts, I consider myself a pracademic.  By that, I mean that I blend academic and practitioner-oriented approaches to my research agenda.  I do not believe that theory is something that should be avoided by industry because it is too lofty for practical applications.  Likewise, I do not think that theory is the end-all, be-all solution to problems nor can it fully explain situations; the “real world” variables at play definitely impact situations and impact how public relations practitioners communicate with their audiences.  In public relations, academics often gripe that practitioners don’t appreciate the research that is being done to provide that theoretical understanding.  Practitioners, likewise, complain that the research being done does not relate to their experiences.  I have had many conversations with local public relations professionals as part of my duties supervising the NCSU chapter of the Public Relations Student Society of America.  When our conversations shift to the relationship between academics and practice, the disparity between academic research and modern practice always come up.  Therefore, I have striven to make my research a careful blending of the two.  I want practitioners to be able to read my work and see how it relates to their own daily routines.  I also want other academics to read my work and see how it connects to and advances theoretical understanding. 


My research interests touch on several different aspects of communication illustrated by the following Venn diagram.  My main interest is the fundraising process, primarily effective communication practices and how the process unfolds.  This overlaps with relationship management by examining the power distribution between fundraisers and donors, negotiation strategies, and how differences in perception of the relationship lead to different outcomes; this overlaps with new media by examining how e-philanthropy techniques are evolving and thriving in the ever-expanding Web 2.0 environment.  For relationship management, I am interested in how personal relationships develop with organizations, how those relationships can be measured, and how relationship evaluation can be used to predict future behavior and organizational involvement.  Again, this overlaps with fundraising by specifically looking at the intricacies of the donor-nonprofit relationship, and it overlaps with new media by examining how the different social media and Web interactivity impact relationships.  In regards to new media, my research has examined how organizations use these technologies in their strategic communication efforts.  All three of these areas intersect one another with my research on understanding how donor relationships are developed and managed virtually.   Unbeknownst to me when I originally applied for the assistant professor of public relations position at NC State, these three interests align well with the College of Humanities and Social Sciences.  My fundraising interests have helped me build solid relationships with those in the Institute for Nonprofit Research, Education and Engagement.  I have not formally been involved with any doctoral students, but my new media interests connect me to the Communication, Rhetoric and Digital Media doctoral program.  Finally, the relationship management paradigm in public relations—though applied to organizations and individuals—is rooted in interpersonal relationship research.  The Department of Communication at NC State has been very supportive of my research and conducive to my early successes.


















Richard D. Waters, Ph.D.



Researching and Teaching a Strategic Approach to Public Relations and

 Nonprofit Management while Maintaining a Sense of Fun and Adventure