Acculturation, Pluralism, and Digital Social Advocacy in Nonprofit Strategic Communications


  • Melissa B Adams Appalachian State University
  • Melissa A Johnson North Carolina State University



This qualitative study investigates the use of acculturation-themed images in nonprofit strategic communications and digital advocacy efforts of 13 organizations serving Hispanic and Latinx immigrant communities in two U.S. states. The study analyzes data from 14 in-depth interviews with the public relations and marketing communication professionals responsible for the website content and digital strategy for the organizations. Based on study findings, the authors argue that these nonprofits are using their websites in soft advocacy efforts to promote positive prototypes of the populations they serve to majority audiences and leverage the flexibility of social media for most of their digital advocacy efforts. This analysis applies acculturation theory to a study of digital social advocacy and extends the literature on nonprofit public relations and public interest communications.


Author Biographies

Melissa B Adams, Appalachian State University

Melissa Adams is an assistant professor in the Department of Communication at Appalachian State University. Melissa began her academic career following more than 20 years in professional communication. She completed her Ph.D. at North Carolina State University in 2018. She is a digital public relations scholar with special focus on social media networks, cultural public relations, and analytics. She has presented her research at several international conferences including the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication, the National Communication Association, Public Relations Society of America and the International Public Relations Research Conference. Her original research has been published in the Journal of International & Intercultural Communication, Advertising & Society Quarterly, and the Journal of Public Relations Education.


Melissa A Johnson, North Carolina State University

Melissa A. Johnson is a professor in North Carolina State University’s Department of Communication. She holds a doctorate from the School of Journalism and Media at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill. Johnson is the author of Building Diverse Communities (University of Massachusetts Press). She has published in journals such as the Journal of Communication, Communication Theory, Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, Communication Research, The Howard Journal of Communications, Journal of International and Intercultural Communication, Catalan Journal of Communication & Culture, Journal of Public Relations Research, Public Relations Inquiry, Public Relations Review, and Journal of Promotion Management. Johnson is a past president of the San Diego Press Club and the Publicity Club of San Diego, and a former NC Public Relations Society of America board member. She has more than a dozen years of communication practitioner experience in broadcasting and public relations.






Original Research