|Chapter 1:||Introduction and Underlying Assumptions|
A second major criterion for assessing the value of a theory is its heuristic potential, or the capacity to stimulate further research. A theoretical perspective on the experience of visiting public relations Web sites could generate further research in at least two foreseeable directions: One direction is to refine and further develop the theory itself by exploring individual concepts and relationships between them in separate studies. Another direction involves attempting to apply the model to other types of Web sites and to adapt it to various contexts.
Third, a theory is judged by its importance, or the relevance of the issues the theory addresses. Data were presented in a previous section establishing the relevance and importance of studying public relations sites. Another aspect of a theory’s importance is whether the insight resulting from the theory makes a real difference in the way we understand the phenomena involved. Given the lack of theoretical knowledge about the experience of visiting public relations Web sites, just helping guide inquiry and focus attention on this communication phenomenon might be a meaningful contribution. But a theory of the public relations Web site experience will make a difference in other important ways. The next section explores the projected utility of a theoretical framework of the public relations Web site experience.
Projected Utility of a Theory of the Public Relations Web Site Experience
Research efforts are in part motivated by the conviction that their results will be useful to other people. The present study is partly driven by the belief that a better understanding of the public relations Web site experience would benefit three main audiences: Web users, communication scholars, and public relations practitioners.