Specialties: Communication strategy, analysis of public arguments, ethics

Experienced, Strategic, Research Driven

"Public arguments deserve the highest level of ethical practice and the stiffest critique."


Kirk and research partner Dan Schill provide ongoing analysis of undecided voters and the issues that sway them.  Charged with ensuring that the voters' voice was impartially covered, Kirk and research partner Dan Schill served as dial test analysts for CNN during the 2008, 2012, and 2016 Presidential primary and general election debates, as well as analysts for a wide range of media organizations. Kirk has worked both party conventions every election since 1996 and has been active in reporting state and local elections as well.

Translating that knowledge can give businesses an edge in positioning themselves in the market.  Kirk’s research centers on the development and ethical targeting of public arguments. Knowing how a client, customer, or audience reacts to key messages enables the targeted expression of ideas to be clearer and more impactful. Yet effectiveness does not always produce ethical communication. Kirk’s research in the field of political campaign communication has provided opportunities to investigate the use and abuse of emergent technologies, effective and intrusive message targeting, and both motivational and hate speech. Public arguments deserve the highest level of ethical practice and the stiffest critique. Therefore, the application of Kirk’s research provides organizations a framework for constructing and evaluating ethical messages.


Rita Kirk (Ph.D., University of Missouri) is the William F. May Endowed Director of the Maguire Center for Ethics & Public Responsibility as well as an Altshuler Distinguished Professor in Corporate Communication & Public Affairs at Southern Methodist University. Her research focuses on campaign communication, the development of public arguments, and a phenomenon that cannot be ignored in current discourse: hate speech. Kirk’s books include: Political Empiricism: Communications Strategies in State and Regional Elections, which won the “Best Book in Applied Communication” from the National Communication Association; Hate Speech, a book analyzing implications for hate discourse in public communication, with coeditor David Slayden, which was awarded the Outstanding Book on the subject of Human Rights in North America and the James Madison Prize for work on free speech; Solo Acts: The Death of Discourse in a Wired World, and her most recent book Political Communication in Real Time: Theoretical and Applied Research Approaches, which was released in spring 2017.  Kirk has over 30 book chapters and articles in scholarly publications and is a frequent commentator in the media. 

A Few of Our Corporate Clients


CNL Properties, Baylor Health Care Systems, The Marketing Arm (a division of OmniCom), J.M. Huber (listed in Top 200 Private Companies in the US), TU Electric (Texas' largest investor-owned utility), NASA-Marshall Space Flight Center, CMC Industries (contract manufacturing), AVEX Electronics, Electronic Data Systems, Gardere & Wynne PC, Tri-M Technologies, and many others for whom proprietary work was performed. 

"The primary function of research is to reduce uncertainty in decision making."

Assisted Organizations with:

Crisis Management & Response

Market Positioning

Enhancing Relationship with Key Stakeholders

Aligning Resources with Values


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Rita Kirk

12130 Vendome Place, Dallas, TX 75230, US