An appeal to shared values: framing and moral persuasion in the Council on American-Islamic Relations’ press releases

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Research Article

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Journal of Public Relations Research

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This study explores the confluence of moral reasoning and strategic framing in public relations tactics to address cultural variations in national policy debates. While much scholarly attention has been paid to the ways in which news media both represent and misrepresent U.S. Muslims through the ways stories are framed, much less work has been devoted to Muslim self-framing in public discourse, and its implications for public relations theory. To address this gap in understanding the ways some Muslim Americans use public relations as a tool of self-representation, this study examines more than 700 press releases issued by the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) during the first year of the Donald Trump presidency. Using Moral Foundations Theory to operationalize the moral evaluations present in the frames, this study found four strategic frames: Islamophobia reactions, legal responses, public sphere engagement, and interfaith solidarity. It also examines the calls to action employed in the press releases. The findings show that the press release as a public relations tactic served as a critical venue for emphasizing individual rights and participation in public life through the deployment of moral language.

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