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Research Portfolio: SSU Student Communications on Crime & Safety Sophie Court-Mathews Student Number: Q09726764


For this research portfolio, I was

assigned the ‘Southampton Solent University Student communication on crime and safety’ brief. In order to ensure that all the research was done to a high standard, I have applied “The Four Frameworks” conceptual model (QUINLAN, 2001, p.6) throughout the entirety of this portfolio. We were provided with the Conceptual Framework during our first meeting with the live client. This is: •

“Are Solent students aware of current community relations, crime prevention and safety campaigns available to them? If so, which ones are most effective?”

To gain more depth of this, we were also asked to find out: •

“How should you define “effective”? What measures should we be using?”

“What key messages encourage students to act responsibly, become good neighbours and proactive members of the community?”

Whilst the Theoretical Framework can be found solely within the literature search, the methodological framework can be found throughout the entire main body of the portfolio. The analytical framework can be located within the appendices. A positivist approach has also been incorporated throughout. To do so, despite the researcher for this portfolio is an SSU student, she detached herself to ensure her personal opinions on the topic remained objective and she gathered unbiased results; this is to ensure that all of the results are valid. (QUINLAN, 2011, p. 12-13) A variety of research methods have been used throughout this portfolio that include both quantitative and qualitative methods.

Where are we now?

Currently, we as a University have a large number of crime and safety campaigns and put a great deal of effort into Community Relations We now want to assess the success of these. So we need to know: Which ones are the most popular and why?

Where do we want to How aware are current SSU Students? go? How can we increase student engagement in these campaigns? How are other Universities using crime and safety initiatives?

How do we get there? Have we got there?

We will get there by using a large number of various research methods including content analysis, surveys and observation techniques. This can only be assessed at the end of the research portfolio by looking at our feedback.

Secondary Research: Literature Search Objectives: -

To discover what research has already been done of the topic: public relations campaigns for crime and safety


To outline a number of research methodology theories relevant to the topic.


To find out whether there are any research gaps that needs to be addressed.

Databases Searched: -

Google Scholar



Limitations: -

Literature will only be relevant if it was produced after 2008.


Literature must be written in English.


Literature must be from within the UK.

Key Words/Search Strategy: -


Search #1: “public relations” (or “PR”) “campaigns” o

JSTOR: 7,838 results. Google Scholar: 16,800 results.


880,331 irrelevant results were removed.

Search #2: “crime and safety” and #1 o

To ensure effective results were gained, each search used “high purposiveness” search action. This ensured that the “search boundaries are set a priori” and that “the user knows ex ante what he is looking for”

JSTOR: 1,308 results. Google Scholar: 21,900 MUYELLE, MOENAERT, DESPONTIN. results. (1999), p.147





5,375 irrelevant results were removed.

Search #3: “community relations” and #1 o

JSTOR: 9,228 results. Google Scholar: 16,700 results.


73,092 irrelevant results were removed.

Search #4: “crime prevention” and #1 o

JSTOR: 2,213 results, Google Scholar: 17,000 results


43,946 irrelevant results were removed

Search #5: “theories of” and #1

All of the searches consisted of multiple words due to how “single word searches yield too many results to be useful” QUINLAN, 2011, p.157

(Above shows an example of the type of searches that were carried out to retrieve the results and the method used to carry out the research)

Literature found: - Engagement Theory: I decided to use this link because it gave very good insight into the theory being used as well as some creative ideas well as some creative ideas. ( Last accessed 1/04/2013) - Theory of Planned Behaviour: This journal provided some vital information about important theories in a clear and concise way. (Theory of Reasoned Action and theory of Planned Behaviour. In: Health Behaviour and Health Education. London: John Wiley & Sons. Page 70) - Grounded Theory: This was a very good journal due to how it looked at grounded theory but in relation to the internet which is perfect for my content analysis. (). A Grounded Theory of WWW Search Behaviour. Journal of Marketing Communications. 5, p147.

Each search has had a large number of results removed; this is because “one of the problems with secondary data is that the data available may not be the data required� QUINLAN, 2001, p.252

- Business Research Methods: This has definitely been the best piece of literature I found due to how it explains what is required for each type of research method as well as helpful theories. (Book: Business Research Methods by Christina Quinlan) - Content Analysis: Although this journal looked at content analysis from a nursing perspective, it provided helpful insight in how to conduct content analysis. (B Lundman, Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness) - PR Theory: This journal was able to show me the role PR takes within a research format and how communication theories can contribute (WATTS. (2006). What is the role of public relations theory? Journal of Communication Management. 10 (1), p.103-105) - Content Analysis: This was a brilliant journal because it looked at the evaluation of content analysis but from a very modern and different perspective. POTTER. (2009). Rethinking validity and reliability in content analysis. Journal of Applied Communication Research., p.258-284.

Secondary Research Critique

A literature search was a suitable research method to use for this topic due to how it provides the opportunity to find literature relevant to the topic as well as relevant theories. Due to how it is a fairly common topic, it also helps to avoid duplicating work that has already been done whilst synthesising previously unidentified issues. In terms of feedback loops, a literature search fits into the first stage which discovers where we are now. This needs to be done so that a strategy can be implemented in order to reach the next stage that is campaign planning. The main type of literature that this particular search focuses on is journals due to their relevance to the student based topic. The way in which the objectives are stated prior to the literature search means that it is clear what is wanted to be achieved with the literature search and the limitations, which are also provided, reveal how the literature found will be classed as “relevant” or “irrelevant” which ensures the validity of the results.

With the limitations; only literature produced after 2008 is included because it will ensure that all the information used is relevant and up-to-date. Also due to the fact that the main target audience of the research portfolio is current university students it ensures that all of the literature used was created during the time current students will have been studying at university Only literature from the UK and in English is being used to ensure that the data is relevant and valid to the overall research question. One would start with a basic search such as public relations campaigns to gain an overview of the entire spectrum that is covered on the database. Then by narrowing the search to specific crime and safety PR campaigns, it enables one to see how they factor into the bigger picture. The validity of a literature search is based on “the extent to which the data measures or represents that which purports to measure or represent” (QUINLAN, 2011, p.252) The main downside with this literature search was that there was very little found for “Crime and safety PR campaigns” and the most useful literature found were all research theories. This however can ensure the validity of the rest of the research throughout the portfolio. In terms of PR Theory, it is vital to find “academic work that already exists” and to then “translate that work into methodologies suitable for practitioner use” (WATTS, 2006, p.103-105). The lack of literature on crime and safety as a PR campaign has created a research gap. Other methods will now be used to look at how SSU are currently doing it, its current success and how it could be improved.

Content Analysis…

Diagram 1: Word-cloud using the most frequently used words from:

Specific Word




Used to stress that this is a vital element in every situation.



Mainly used within the phrase “make sure� to remind students of key crime prevention methods.



Mainly used when referring to personal possessions e.g. keep windows shut and doors locked.



Mainly used as a way of stressing importance of key points.



Used when revealing the main dangers within Southampton



Used when providing a list of things to steer clear of such as walking home alone.



Mainly used when talking about safety precautions that can be done at your place of residence.



Used when talking about events students should never participate in.



Used when talking about who to contact in different situations.



Used when informing the students about the most important facts.



Used to stress the safer alternative to walking home after a night out



Used to talk about the new dangers that the night brings.



Used as a final reminder to students about what they need to be doing.



Used when suggesting preventative measures to dangerous situations.



Used when stressing the dangers of alcohol consumption.



Used as a means of ensuring students double check locks.



Used when suggesting safety precautions that can be used while using the internet.


Content Analysis‌

“Content analysis holds value not only for conventional When performing content analysis one has to decide doctrinal analysis, but also for more theoretically-whether the analysis should focus on manifest or latent influenced work in critical theory� With this in mind, content. Due to the fact this content needs to be factual through the methods of content analysis that have been and informative whilst stressing the importance of used, we can first complete conventional analysis with ease whilst also can see a number if critical elements crime and safety, there is little manifest content. Everything is latent content to ensure the reader gets the that can be used to build improvement. message. Hall, 2010, P.13

LUNDMAN, 2003, P.106

Content Analysis Critique Due to the fact the literature search failed to discover much information on crime and safety PR campaigns, content analysis was used to look at what are seen to be the main crime and safety issues effecting SSU students and how these are being communicated to the students via the university portal pages, Content analysis should include a number of different methods that look at the words used within documents in different ways. This content analysis used three different methods that grew from one another and ended up with a strong result. The first method shown to us in Diagram 1 is a very modern approach and is very visually effective. By using a word-cloud generator, the most frequently used words are gathered from a source of text and the frequency of the words is then represented by the size of the word in the image. 4 However, in the second method of content analysis, shown within the first table, we see that this is not the case. Fortunately, the results of the word-cloud were personally tested which revealed that some of the most frequently used words were under-represented on the wordcloud, proving the first method unreliable and misleading. The way in which direction of the words used was then investigated and recoded proves extensive time and research went into that particular form of content analysis. The last table is also extremely useful due to how it breaks the source down into the individual pages. By showing how many times each word has been used per page, enables the researcher to instantly see what the key messages. This is a positive attribute to have within content analysis due to how “content analysis is the study of the message itself and not the communicator� (KASSARJIAN, 2011, p.8). The table also makes it possible to see what key

words they have missed out and what words they should use more frequently. Despite the fact a theory based coding sheet has not been applied, one could argue that content analysis need not be limited by these and in-fact “when researchers are clear about what kind of content they want to analyse” they are able to develop equally valid results. (POTTER, 2009, p.258284)

Crime & Safety Questionnaire A large number of students are made victims of crime every week within Southampton. The questionnaire below is to discover how aware students are of the safety campaigns available to them. All participation is voluntary and all results are anonymous and confidential.

First I’d like to ask a few questions about you: •

Are you: a.




Theare questionnaire incorporates elements of the Theory of Planned Behaviour Which year of university you currently in? (TPB). It works through the TPB model by starting with providing the student a. First with the “motivation to comply” by saying the reason for the questionnaire, it b. Second then makes it the “subjective norm” by using a conversational tone therefore removing any formal impression. It then elicits an “intention to perform the c. Third behaviour”. The final stage is “behaviour” which can be assessed by rates of d. Postgraduate response. GLANZ, RIMER, VISWANITH, 2008, p. 700

This questionnaire makes use of Engagement Theory. The introductory paragraph used the first two elements which are the “Relate” and “Create” components. Due to the mention of students in relation to crime, the students reading it will ‘relate’ to the situation. This then “Creates” a moral obligation to “clarify and verbalise their problems, thereby facilitating solutions”. The actual questionnaire then provides the “Donate” component by giving them the opportunity to contribute towards the situation. KEARSLEY, SHNEIDERMAN. (2012).

The success of this questionnaire will be assessed by the response rates. 100 questionnaires were handed out to students entering the library and each was told to return the questionnaires on their way out of the library. The results and response rates can be found in the appendices. QUINLAN, 2011, p.342

For the next several questions, please choose a number from 0-5 and write it next to each statement to indicate how much you agree with that statement. 0





5 Extremely Agree

Not at all

1. ____: I am aware of many crime and safety initiatives.

2. ____: My university is very good at making their crime and safety initiatives publically known.

3. ____: I am very aware of noise pollution.

4. ____: I am very aware of the risks of alcohol and drugs.

5. ____: I am very aware of the risks of walking alone at night within Southampton.

6. ____: I am very aware of the precautions that need to be taken to look after my possessions.

7. ____: I am aware of who to contact in a number of different crime and safety situations.

8. Have you been victim to a crime during your time in Southampton? Yes/No

9. If yes, do you feel that this event could have been avoided if you were more aware of crime and safety issues within Southampton?

_____________________________________________________________________________________ _____________________________________________________________________________________ __________________________________________________________________________________

10. Rank the following methods of information distribution that SSU use in terms of which ones you find most effective? (From 1 – 5, 1 being the most effective) a. Facebook (


b. Twitter (@solentofficial)


c. External Website (


d. Portal pages, MyCourse, Student email


e. Campus plasma screen in student areas


11. What do you personally think is the most effective safety campaign used by SSU?

Questionnaire Critique

After using content analysis to look at what SSU believe the key crime and safety issues are and then looking at how they portray these using the Portal, a student perspective was required to gain an idea of how aware the students at Southampton Solent are about these issues and to judge how effective the portal and other platforms have been in raising awareness.

The first set of questions adopts a technique that was introduced by Renesis Likert. The 0-5 response scale that you have to use to answer these questions is very intuitive for the user and eliminates the option of a neutral response. The way that people are able to choose their own number means that the data provided will be more efficient. The use of only 2 adjectives on the response scale enables them to be more open with their choice and increases this simplicity. Instructions were also provided to ensure the simplicity of use. An appropriate sample for this questionnaire can be seen in Diagram 1. The ethnographics of this sample can be seen in diagram 2; these also act as the inclusion criteria. (QUINLAN, 2011, p.209) A non-probability sampling technique was an appropriate method to use due to how “it was not possible to compile a complete sampling frame� (QUINLAN, 2011, p.215) It was also appropriate to use a Quota sampling technique despite the fact that a Convenience sample may have been easier to achieve because is the most representative form of non-probability sampling. Four quotas were chosen which can be seen in Diagram 3.

To ensure that all the questions within the questionnaire made sense and achieved useful results, a pilot study was completed. This was done on a number of individuals within the University and proved that the questionnaire was well


Southampton Solent Campus – Mountbatten Library

University Status

Both undergraduate and postgraduate students


Male and Female


Southampton Solent University Students

The Study Population: 35, 658 (Total number of students in Southampton) The Sample Frame: 10,988 (Southampton Solent Students) Sample = 100 Students – 50 males and 50 females Respondents = 100

Diagram 1 – Sample Size Triangle

Diagram 2 – Sample Ethnographics

Diagram 3 – Specific Quotas

Observation Observation

Figure 2: This is the table that was used during the observation itself.

Observation Critique

The main reason an observation was chosen was to see why people responded the way they did to the questionnaire. A large number of people said they had walked home alone after a night out in Southampton, so an observation was created to look into this important issue. Within the observation, two main approaches were taken. In regards to doing the observation, a covert approach was adopted. This meant that it was in secret and the individuals being observed were unaware that the research was being done. Although this can potentially raise a number of ethical issues, doing the observation in this way meant that honest and valid results were gathered due to how the decisions and actions of the individuals being observed were not influenced by the on-going research. For an observation to be successful, it must be meticulously planned and executed. This particular observation does just that due to how it has followed the 7-Step-Observation plan. This plan starts with identifying the required data for the research, which has been done. It then requires one to gain the data, which has also been done. The third step is to decide on observation as an appropriate collection method, then to carry out the observation. This is then followed by recording it and analysing the data; which have all been done (results can be found within the appendices) (QUINLAN, 2011, p.265) The table that was used to record the data is very well structured and includes elements of colour coding. This is a very good element to have within the table as it means one will be able to visually see, for example, out of the individuals that left the premises in a drunk and disorderly manner: how many of them walked home alone and how many of them got a taxi home alone. The structure of the overall preparation and table mean that the observation could be repeated at any night-club, in any city on any date which means that the results is records are valid and reliable.


Main purpose of interview: Find out how the university is communicating towards crime and safety and whether or not the channels are effective. Question Guide: 1. In general, how aware do you believe students are about crime and safety in

Southampton? 2. Do you have any different messages for different age groups? 3. Do messages differ depending on the platform? 4. Do you think the university is basing its judgement of which channel is most

successful by what the students say about it? 5. Are you taking the students reactions to the messages into consideration? 6. Have any students come to you first hand to talk about crime issues that have

happened to them? 7. 2 students were stabbed on the premises, are you planning any campaigns for this

case? 8. What is the timeframe for your campaigns?

Instead of writing a complete list of questions, we decided to only write a loose question guide that consisted only of the ones we knew we needed to find out the information too. This is because a face-to-face interview provides us with the opportunity for flexibility in terms of what we ask. If we don’t get much of a response to a question we can move onto another, and if they have a lot to say on a certain topic then more in-depth questions can be asked.

Interview Critique

A face-to-face approach was chosen due to the way in which the interviewer has the opportunity to build a rapport with the interviewee and can take note of extra responses to questions such as body language. This synchronous approach also offers “a degree of anonymity� (QUINLAN, 2011, P.221). An interview question guide needs to consist of questions that will elicit relevant responses whilst also being flexible. This question guide does this due to how it consists of both open and closed questions so some will be providing facts whilst others provide longer, in-depth answers. The interview responses can be seen as valid and reliable due to the fact the interviewee was a representative of the SSU PR department that worked within Community Relations. She dealt with these situations on a day to day basis and was at the forefront of all the PR based decisions related to these crime and safety issues.

Measurement & Evaluation Valid Metrics Matrix (VMM) Measurement & Evaluation Valid Metrics Matrix (VMM) Critique

In terms of measurement and analysis of data, the most modern way approach is to create a Valid Metrics Matrix or VMM. In order to create an effective VMM, a systematic approach must be taken. This particular VMM has

done this by adopting the CIPR’s “three O’s” theory. The Outputs are the public relations activity, stating what is being done, it then moves onto Outtakes which is the intermediary effect which looks at what the third party thought of it and the finally, the Outcomes are the action taken by the target audience. In terms of the Public Relations activity, the way that the same activities have been used to cover awareness, knowledge, interest and support is often quite a controversial approach. This is because some experts believe different activities should be used to achieve different effects. However, with this particular case, the same activities have been used due to how the progressive manner of the activities means that they work through the stages as time progresses. Doing in this way however, can also be positive due to how “PR measurement needs to be shown as a continuum of metrics”


GLANZ, RIMER, VISWANATH. (2008). Theory of Reasoned Action and theory of Planned Behaviour. In: Health Behaviour and Health Education. London: John Wiley & Sons. Page 70. HALL. (2010). Systematic Content Analysis of Judicial Opinions., p.13. KASSARJIAN. (2011). Content Analysis in Consumer Research. Journal of Consumer Research p.8. KEARSLEY, SHNEIDERMAN. (2012). Engagement Theory. Available: Last accessed 1/04/2013. LUNDMAN, B. (2003). Overview of Concepts. Qualitative content analysis in nursing research: concepts, procedures and measures to achieve trustworthiness.

MUYELLE, MOENAERT, DESPONTIN. (1999). A Grounded Theory of WWW Search Behaviour. Journal of Marketing Communications. 5, p147. PESTANA. (2010). The Barcelona Principles: A World Beyond AVEs. Available: Last accessed 2/04/2013. POTTER. (2009). Rethinking validity and reliability in content analysis. Journal of Applied Communication Research., p.258-284. QUINLAN. (2011). Samples and Sampling in Research. In: Cengage Learning Business Research Methods. Hampshire: Thomas Rennie. WATTS. (2006). What is the role of public relations theory? Journal of Communication Management. 10 (1), p.103-105.

Results & Analysis

Content Analysis:

Crime and Safety Research

(Every occurrence observed of the activities listed below will be recorded) Date: Wednesday 27th March Time: 23:00 – 12:00 Location: Outside Orange Rooms, Bedford Place, Southampton Individual leaves premises in a drunk and disorderly manner

/ / / /



/ / / / / / / / / / / / / /

Group leaves premises in a drunk and disorderly manner

/ / / /



/ / / / / / / /

Individual leaves premises in an appropriate manner

/ / / /



/ /

Group leaves premises in an appropriate manner

/ / / /



/ / / / / / / / / / /

Individual walks home alone

/ / / /



/ / / / / / / / / / / /

Group walk home together

/ / / /



/ / / / /

Individual gets a taxi home

/ / / /



/ / / /

Group get a taxi together

/ / / /



/ / / / / / / / / / / / / /


Results: - 71% of the individuals that left alone were behaving in a drunk and disorderly way (meaning 29% left in an appropriate manner) - 75% of these then walked home alone (meaning 25% got a taxi home alone) - 42% of the groups that left Orange rooms were behaving in a drunk and disorderly way (meaning 58% left in an appropriate manner) - 54% then walked home as a group (meaning 46% got a taxi home together.

Final portfolio