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A New Frontier: Social Media Reignites Public Relations

Web 2.0 is about two things:  participation and collaboration.  Social media has reignited Public Relations (PR) by sending us back to the basics of information exchange and creating a new relational frontier.  To capitalise on this means PR Practitioners (PRP’s) need a fresh approach.

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What’s the point of PR?

Organisations and their environments are fundamentally interdependent.  PR steps in to strategically support the ongoing communication with key publics, as a mediator and advocate which seeks happy outcomes for all.

A nice match

It so happens that social media is highly suited to PR.  The dialogic, relational and global qualities of digital media make it perfectly suited to the strategic management of PR functions.

But beware: Publics cannot be persuaded by lots of well-intended messages!  And they never have.  Because you’ve sent a clear message, doesn’t mean you control the way it’s received.

PR isn’t simply a transmitting device.  This illusion of control must give way to an approach that bridges two-way conversation which listens to publics (not ‘audiences’) as well as informs.

Marie Claire‘s recent Twitter gaff about Kendall Jenner’s corn-row hair-style caused a wave of offence based on racial insensitivity.  Those 140 characters couldn’t be cloaked soon enough…

Power shift

Social media and the internet have empowered publics in extraordinary ways, through the potential to:

  • Seek millions of information sources from all over the world, and
  • Interact with other members or groups, including organisations, any time they want.

This means organisations are outweighed by consumer communication flows and now form only part of the discussion.  In fact, research has found that stakeholders define their own interests in an organisation – not the other way around.

Web 2.0 demands the participation of PRP’s in organisational decision-making and not simply transmitting messages after-the-fact.

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Relate well

So how do you build a relationship?  By using what you say to influence conversations you are a part of.

If an organisation using social media doesn’t open up to discussion, then their self-interests aren’t interesting at all.  Like those annoying people at parties who talk continually…about themselves.

The goal of social media strategic management is to create messages that reflect your public’s information needs while advocating the needs of your organisation.   Start by communicating a consistent and unified message across media platforms that broadly reflect your organisation’s fundamental values.

What do you want from your social media use?

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