Rita Kirk and research partner Dan Schill provide ongoing analysis of audience responses to real-time events. From corporate clients to media groups, understanding your audience is central to effective message development. This research is published in major academic journals and has resulted book-length analysis as well.
During the 2008, 2012, 2016, and 2020 Presidential debates and other high level news events such as the State of the Union, CNN uses our service to report on undecided voters and the issues that sway them. Charged with ensuring that the voters' voice is impartially reported, we employ dial tests to monitor voter reactions in real time. Also, they have worked both party conventions every election from 1996 until Covid hit during the 2020 election season They are active in reporting on state and local elections as well and are frequently cited my news media sources.
Translating that knowledge can give businesses an edge in positioning their products in the market. Our 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.
Dr. Kirk is currently the William F May Endowed Director of the Cary M Maguire Center for Ethics and Public Responsibility as well as an Altshuler Distinguished Teaching Professor in the Division of Corporate Communications & Public Affairs at Southern Methodist University.
Rita Kirk (Ph.D., University of Missouri) is a business and management consultant assisting clients with communication and marketing strategy.
Currently, she 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; Political Communication in Real Time: Theoretical and Applied Research Approaches; and her most recent book, Ethics at the Heart of Higher Education, which has just been released. Kirk has over 30 book chapters and articles in scholarly publications and is a frequent commentator in the media.
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
Enhancing Relationship with Key Stakeholders
Aligning Resources with Values