Public Relations: a Risky Business?

A lot has happened to Tom Cruise since he burst onto screens in Risky Business. Three failed marriages, three children, numerous discussions about Scientology, and one couch jumping episode later, the now 51 year old movie star has had his fair share of crises and risk.


Feeling risky?
Source: Gadget Review

PR practitioners, not unlike celebrity publicists, manage risk, judge potential opportunities, and communicate messages with publics.

Social media, however, has heightened the element of risk involved in the PR industry. No-one wants to be the next social media disaster.

As indicated in my previous blog, the PR industry cannot avoid the changing role of publics and consumers. It now seems that the PR industry is living in a world where the phrase “Risky Business” has never rung so true.


Let’s take the risk!
Source: “Meeting” by John Benson

Imagine you’ve just started at a company that has a less than impressive understanding of social media, yet you believe social media is key to the future success of this organisation.

You sit down at your desk and brainstorm the following Pros and Cons about social media, before presenting them to senior management:


  • Two way communication
  • Sharing of content
  • Market research
  • Create a brand community
  • Cost effective


  • Ownership of information
  • Loss of control
  • Instant medium for disgruntled consumers to voice complaints
  • Potentially damaging or incorrect information online

All your hard work pays off, and the company resolves to join the social media revolution – congratulations! But now what? How do you ensure that your social media efforts will be beneficial? How do you negotiate the social media tightrope?

Whilst social media’s fluid nature cannot restrict it to a holistic framework, Kaplan and Haenlein suggest a number of ways to optimise social media, and highlight the opportunities it gives to a business. Specifically, they suggest PR practitioners using social media should be:

  • active
  • interesting
  • humble
  • unprofessional and
  • outgoing.

Although there will always be an element of risk associated with social media, social media should be seen as an exciting challenge for PR practitioners to take on. Just like any other business deal, social media should be embraced and enjoyed because of the benefits it reaps for a company.

After all, it’s human nature to take risks in order to feel the rush of an amazing reward. And who doesn’t love a little risk taking


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