Graduation Year


Document Type




Degree Granting Department

Mass Communications

Major Professor

Derina Holtzhausen, Ph.D.


Public relations, Communications, U.S. Commonwealth, Culture, Case study


This explorative study is a qualitative assessment of culture as a critical aspect of public relations practice in Puerto Rico. Reviewing definitions of culture, Hofstede's dimensions of cultural values, the Excellence Theory, and international case studies, this study sought to answer the following research questions: What national cultural traits have an impact on the practice of public relations in Puerto Rico? Do Puerto Rican practitioners feel their own cultural characteristics have an impact on their practice of public relations? Does the cultural diversity of Puerto Rico have an impact on public relations practice in that country? Does the country's strong relationship with the U.S. influence public relations practitioners to use Western-based public relations practices? Qualitative data was gathered through unstructured in-depth interviews, using a "culture bag" concept and storyboards to capture the practitioners' perspectives.

In addition, quasi-ethnographic records in relation to public relations education, a local newspaper scan, and a website content analysis of public relations agencies were analyzed.The main themes found in the interviews included the political climate, a strong sense of Puerto Rican nationality, with tradition and family as key national cultural elements. National cultural traits identified during the interviews included having a participative, humanitarian and mostly homogeneous public; however, practitioners disagreed on whether these national characteristics truly affected their communications practices. Despite the disagreement of impact, practitioners reported that communications needs were very similar and geared to one overwhelming majority, rather than public-specific communications. Many noted the preferred communication style used emotional appeals targeted to the themes referenced above and viewed events as an ideal tactic for communications. Moreover, the U.S.

Moreover, the U.S. influences in public relations education is notable as the university courses are taught in Spanish, but with English-written American textbooks. The theory discussed is mostly U.S. based. In addition, the lack of Puerto Rican authored literature and research is noted, and concern over licensing of practitioners was mentioned. The scan of local newspapers did not reveal many public relations issues. The website content analysis of local public relations agencies showed half of the websites as Puerto Rico specific and the prominent language used as English.