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Impact of Social Media on Public Relations Practice Report

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Updated: Aug 14th, 2019

Introduction

The globalization process has led to the integration of the world with the ability and ease of communication. Information has become an important factor for organization.

Advanced technology has led to increased exchange of information throughout the world. Social media and blogs have a great impact on PR. Studies indicate that social media is dramatically changing PR by enhancing what happens in PR. In addition, the modern social media and the traditional media complement each other. This study examines the impacts of blogs and social media on PR practices.

Globalization

Globalization is the rapid spread of interdependence among countries in the world. The interdependence among nations has been growing over time with cross border exchange of services and commodities increasing immensely. Globalization indicates the continuous expansion and integration of markets. According to Fischer (2003), the trend that globalization has undertaken is irreversible. The main driver of globalization is the swift progress in science and technology.

The progress in these two helps increase the speed of movement in information and goods across the world. Through globalization, international trade has grown leading to further growth of economies. The outcome is reduced poverty levels and development. Despite the benefits of globalization, there are challenges that affect its continued growth (Holtzhausen, 2000, p. 106).

Interdependence of economies in the world is supported by the advancing development in science and technology. Through advanced technology, the cost of communication and movement of goods and services around the world has reduced. For instance, the costs that are incurred by firms in shipping products have reduced.

According to Herring & Litan (1995, p. 142), the reduction in the costs of international trade has encouraged many firms to increase their participation in international trade by establishing international ventures. Multinational organizations have become central carriers of globalization. Most of the organizations have established a competitive advantage in information technology by establishing blogs for their firms and employees (Herring & Litan, 1995, p. 45).

Globalization and cultural diversity

The globalization process is closely linked to cultural diversity. According to Maureen (2005), globalization has led to the compression of the world and the intensification of knowledge hence increased understanding. For instance, Europe has been affected with increased unity and its cultural identification to the world as the European culture. Due to these changes, a global PR perspective can be created leading to complex exchange processes and understanding. Due to this, it is important to apply PR concepts globally.

Different people exist across the globe with different cultural practices and communication. Different codes of human communication such as semantics, linguistics, verbal and cultural factors affect the globalization of PR practices. Similarly, democracy is different from one region in the world to another. Whenever an organization focuses on local or national publicity, it is easier for the PR practice to be easily defined and managed.

However, a large organization that is characterized by a large market share that spreads across different countries and regions makes defining of PR practices complex hence difficulties in communication. A Local PR usually considers communication and perceptions that are peculiar in a given country or region. However, Global PR considers global aspects that could define both local and global factors affecting an organization.

According to Huang (2001), culture is a variable that affects public relations. Various studies conducted in various countries led to the need for internationalization of PR. According to Hofstede (1980), various dimensions of culture such as power distance and avoidance of uncertainty are related to culture and therefore public relations. Others include long-term orientation, individualism (collectivism) and masculinity (femininity) as argued by Hofstede (1980).

Culture is also characterized by idiosyncrasies that affect PR practices. Despite the positive steps made in globalization of PR, it is sad to note that culture has not been fully incorporated into PR. Globalization process is an important factor towards a universal PR practice. Therefore, business environment and PR varies from one country to another depending on culture, the media, political system, economic systems and the level of development.

Hung (2003) argues that firms that do not have the PR department do not function properly and they tend to fail in their operations. The impact of PR on the success of an organization can be felt when PR is part of the strategic decision making body of an organization or it has direct access to strategic decision makers.

The application of PR in firms forms the generic concept of PR. Organizations should strive to integrate the PR function into its system and communication in the company being driven by a unified organizational strategy. Therefore, no department or section in an organization should operate independently.

Public Relations

According to Rhee (2002, p. 166), “Public relations practice is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organization and its publics.”

Many organizations in the modern world have employed PR personnel to improve the company image and products to the public in a bid to improve the reputation and performance of the firm. Public relation entails many factors that are well elaborated using its components such as understanding news, PR writing, media relations, external relations and nontraditional media.

According to Maureen (2005), news involves extraordinary things that happen to ordinary people. It is characterized by immediacy, emotional appeal, consequences, singularity, proximity and prominence. The timing of media events is important for an individual to obtain news. News provides happenings of events at a given time. Proximity of news relates the news story as it happened to the community or a given society.

Prominence is a situation in which the news story features prominent or public figures that are of great importance to the people of interest. News singularity features stories happening to specific group of people, organizations or specific places. Emotional appeal of the news relates to the human interest in the given news story as covered by the media. Lastly, the consequence of a given media story would be realized when it is of great importance to the majority of readers or viewers.

Public relations personnel are interested in working with the media to provide stories of great interest to a large number of people consuming a given company product or potential customers. They engage in public relations writing providing logical stories and press releases. Most press releases provided by PR personnel usually contain the most important information at the top followed by additional facts and the background.

Many organizations require marketing to sell their products. Marketing as a tool is very important in increasing the awareness of customers on company products. When a product is newly manufactured, it has to be launched in a new market using a given marketing strategy. PR is involved in the marketing process through media relations.

Media relations can help a firm reach out to a large market concerning the product. Before engaging the media, it is important that the company develops a media list and identify the target audience for the information. The information can be relayed through print media, audio as well as visual media. Mass media theories were developed long time ago to help understand the functioning of the media.

Mass media function differently in different systems such as liberal democratic systems, communism and authoritarian systems. Media control, diffusion and access are the major factors that affect PR practices. Control of media refers to the ownership and management of the media while diffusion of the media indicates the level of consumption of media. Access of the media is the openness or the ability of the media to be heard on any issue (Hung, 2003).

External relations involve the ability of an organization to work with other organizations in an effort to improve performance. Organizations do not exist alone because they need other firms to help them produce or sell their products thus creating a network. The network is comprised of suppliers, producers, wholesalers and retailers. The cooperation of firms in the supply chain involves external relations that call for the attention of PR personnel.

Importance of PR

PR is applied in almost all organizations. The success of an organization is determined by its ability to market its products effectively together with its reputation. PR performs an important role of marketing the company. According to Rhee (1999), PR helps organizations to convey important information about the company product and services to its clients and potential clients.

In case of any issues affecting the firm, PR personnel can help the organization to reach out to the government and legislators in addition to other government bodies. For instance, PR can help an organization to negotiate with trade unions on the salary and working conditions of employees. For politicians, PR is important in helping them improve their public image.

Non-profit-making organizations usually employ PR personnel in awareness surveys and conducting fundraising campaigns. PR practitioners can employ techniques such as conducting opinion polls for company products and providing an organization with feedback on improvement. It is therefore recommended for all organizations to employ PR practice so that they can improve their financial performance and growth.

Blogging and PR

Many aspects of advanced technology have challenged the practice of PR. The explanation given by Key (2005, p. 19) is that

PR in the digital age requires understanding how your key constituents are gathering and sharing information and then influencing them at key points. Doing so requires strategies that embrace the digital age (p. 19).”

Websites began as vanity publishing because it was possible for anyone to create his / her own website for the purpose of publishing news opinions or comments. In addition, the sites could be linked to other sites.

There are many blogs in the world today. However, despite the high number of blogs, PR practitioners are interested in blogs that publish news or are related to relaying news to the public. Despite the fact that blogging is a global phenomenon, not all companies are involved in blogging with those that are not involved pointing to a number of reasons. Some of the reasons given are outdated technology and cultural diversity. Culture promotes blogging in some countries while discouraging it in other countries (Wright & Hinson, 2008).

Wright & Hinson (2008) argue that blogging is a revolution in how information is shared in the world. According to Winer (2003), a blog is “the only place that you can find a publication where your ideas can stand alone without interference because it gives a public writer a rare kind of relaxation not available in other forms.”

According to Wright & Hinson (2008), the impact of blogs on PR is unique. A Blog for an employee in a firm has limitless potential to distribute knowledge, dialogue promotion, products and services marketing as well as opening up channels to enhance communication between the management and employees.

A survey by Edelman PR and Intelliseek (2005, p. 3) indicates, “The rise of the blogosphere has the potential to empower employees in ways not unlike the rise of labor unions in the late 19th and 20th centuries.” Therefore, blogging has high potential for organizations and PR. However, only a small number of firms are embracing blogging.

Wright & Hinson (2008) note that major reasons driving employees to create weblogs are publishing content and their ideas, building communities and promote leadership. Others are to obtain feedbacks form clients and pass information to clients.

In spite of the benefits of employee blogging, there are mixed reactions on its benefits. For instance, some organizations such as Dell, Sun and Microsoft encourage their employees to blog with some of the benefits given as blogging of employees can lure potential clients of the organization into a conversation hence ending up purchasing company products.

Blogs are sticky because they enable readers to check several times in a day and they therefore amplify the impact of the organization. The blogs are also efficient in obtaining feedback for employees on certain questions. Blogging is free and employees should use it to obtain information about the company clients’ needs.

Wright & Hinson (2008) notes the management of some organizations encourages their employees to blog so that they can establish a personal relationship with the company clients. Moreover, employee blogs establish connections “through real human beings speaking like real human beings, which are something companies have forgotten how to do (Wright & Hinson, 2008).” Not all companies encourage their employees to blog.

Blogging Challenges Facing PR Practitioners

According to Horton (2002), PR personnel are expected to maintain a high relationship with the clients that help an organization improve its performance and grow. In addition, PR practitioners usually speak on behalf of the organization and they do not talk for themselves. The practitioners are not allowed to talk about company issues without consulting the company management.

For these PR ethical requirements, PR practitioners find it difficult to participate on blog cites because whatever they write is limited. They should make careful considerations before writing anything. Some practitioners who are usually in error have issues of credibility in using blogs. In addition, as they target specific audiences, give their status their jobs may be at stake. Personal blogging for any other normal person is not common with PR practitioners (Horton, 2002).

Accuracy is an issue for PR personnel who blog. Journalists usually have editors while bloggers do not have them. For any information that PR practitioners write on blogs, references must be given in order to remain up to date. Purposefulness is another issue facing PR practitioners concerning blogging.

An organization can maintain a good stream of news and records with its clients through blogging. PR practitioners are not able to control the flow of employee messages on blog. PR personnel are concerns on the lack of control of messages and they argue that most messages are lost due to poor message control (Horton, 2002).

Possible Solutions

PR practitioners are facing many issues that can be solves in several ways. A blog is not a free form of expression in any firm. However, the blog can be utilized well if it can be changed into a means of communication in the firm.

A blog is available to all employees in a company at any time. In addition, some organization find blogs important in helping key management officials of an organization informed about company issues. Blogs can be used to communicate information fast without within a short period. PR practitioners will have no otherwise but to adopt blogs for communication and pass important information of an organization.

Conclusion

Globalization as a process has led to increased integration of the world and working with the modern technology, has led to increased blogging. It has been accompanied by advanced information technology.

Due to increased importance of information, organizations have found a competitive advantage in using information technology hence the need to venture into other international markets. Organizations need PR to succeed in their operations both locally and internationally as their employees can blog to establish a personal relationship with clients.

PR can utilize blogs to share information especially about an organization and its products. In addition, the opportunity for PR to conduct a self-inspection and critique is available. Globalization has enabled the opportunity to establish a global source of knowledge for PR practitioners. Despite the milestones in PR practices, there is more work to do to increase the global PR knowledge because culture is not fully incorporated into PR practices.

References

, (2005) Talking from the Inside Out: The Rise of Employee Bloggers. Edelman Public Relations. Web.

Fischer, R. (2003) . Web.

Herring, R. & Litan, R. (1995) Financial Regulation in the Global Economy. Washington, DC: Brookings Institution.

Hofstede, G. (1980) Culture’s consequences. Beverly Hills, CA: Sage.

Holtzhausen, D. (2000) Postmodern values in public relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 12(1), pp. 93–114.

Horton, J. (2002) PR and Blogging: How to think about it. Web.

Huang, Y. (2001) OPRA: A cross-cultural, multiple-item scale for measuring Organization-public relationships. Journal of Public Relations Research, 13(1), pp. 61-90.

Hung, C. (2003) Culture, relationship cultivation and relationship outcomes: A qualitative evaluation of multinational companies’ relationship management in China. Paper presented to the Public Relations Division at the 53rd annual conference of the International Communication Association, San Diego, May.

Key, R. (2005) How the PR Profession Can Fluorish in this New Digital Age: Why You Must Challenge Old PR Models,” Public Relations Tactics, pp. 18-19.

Maureen, G. (2005) Communicating across cultures at work. Palgrave: MacMillan.

Rhee, Y. (1999) Confucian culture and excellent public relations: A study of generic principles and specific application in South Korean public relation practice. Unpublished Master’s thesis submitted to the University of Maryland at College Park, MD, USA.

Rhee, Y. (2002) Global public relations: A cross-cultural study of the excellence theory in South Korea. Journal of Public Relations Research, 14. pp. 159-184.

Winer, D. (2003) Web.

Wright, D. & Hinson, M. (2008) How Blogs and Social Media are Changing Public Relations and the Way it is Practiced, Public Relations Journal Vol. 2, No. 2.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "Impact of Social Media on Public Relations Practice." August 14, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/impact-of-social-media-on-public-relations-practice/.

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