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Projecting a Preferred Identity: How Five Government Contractors Frame Their Corporate Brands Online

Merrifield, Nicole A
Committee Members: 
Dr. Elizabeth Avery
November 2011

Abstract: This study expands framing research as a competitive intelligence tool for discerning the message strategies of a company’s competition. A content analysis of five Oak Ridge Associated Universities’ competitor websites was conducted to determine key subject areas and how each competitor positioned their business to a variety of publics. Using Entman (1991, 1993) and Hallahan’s (1999) framing research as the theoretical framework, the study reviews extant literature on corporate use of websites to frame reputations and cultivate relationships. Key findings reveal that ORAU’s competitors are more likely to promote new business, new hires/promotions, awards/honors, and project completions when issuing press releases but are rarely using any success-themed frames on their service-related webpages. The competitors’ use of frames is not influenced by business type (for-profit or non-profit), and when it comes to new business opportunities and experience, ORAU’s competitors are discussing one or the other, but not both. Lastly, the results of this content analysis revealed that ORAU’s competitors are not quantifying their experience with statistics.