With the fast development of social media in today’s world, the profession of public relations is facing the challenge of creating a new definition for itself. Public relations professionals now use forms of social media to gain knowledge to create their campaigns, communicate with publics, and enhance their clients target audience. According to the Stuart Elliot’s article in the New York Times, one member of the participants trying to change the definition of public relations, Adam Lavelle, stated “Before the rise of social media, public relations was about trying to manage the message an entity was sharing with its different audiences,” (Elliot, 2011). The previous definitions of public relations do not encompass, in the slightest bit, the impact that social media has on the organizations and their public relations departments. The impacts social media has made are tremendous when it comes to a company’s image and perception to the public.
As much as the use of social media has been effective, it has also been questioned on how truly effective the use of social media is in public relations. In an article of research conducted by Maureen Taylor and Michael L. Kent, they discovered that the use of social media was beneficial when it came to public relations because it is a unique tool of communication (Taylor, M. and Kent K. L., 2011). They focused their research around the PRSSA and education when it came to students coming in to the profession of public relations. With this in mind, Taylor and Kent discovered that although social media is an advantage in public relation professions, there should be a balance (Taylor, M. and Kent K. L., 2011). Young professionals should also be taught the limits of social media when it comes to forming tactics and strategies of campaigns (Taylor, M. and Kent K. L., 2011). Therefore, the upcoming of social media has advantages when looking at aspects of public relations professions but it should not encompass one’s entire knowledge of how to conduct public relations tasks and campaigns.
Social media has given professionals a new dynamic way to communicate with both internal and external audiences. The various platforms of social media allow public relations professionals to gear their campaign ideas and communication plans to specifically target certain audiences based upon the variety of unique media platforms. These platforms also allow for a variety of different types of communication (pictures, videos, blogs, etc.) that were much more complicated to execute before without social media and other technologies. In an article by Donald K. Wright and Michelle Hinson, they focused their research not on the impact social media is having on practices of public relations, but on the ways social media is being used within public relations (Wright, D. and Hinson, M., 2014). Their research has shown that, “…the development of various new and emerging technologies has significantly empowered a wide variety of strategic publics…” (Wright, D. and Hinson, M., 2014). Their research has proven that many professionals are conducting research based upon social media platforms. Social media is drastically changing the way that public relations is being practiced.
With that all being said, one can see that the impact social media has had on public relations in the past few years is huge. Specifically among young adults, social media has become a large part of their daily routine. Scrolling through Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram feeds, reading blog posts, and news articles online has become a big part on how people view certain brands and companies. Social media has developed a new form of communication for professionals to reach different audiences in ways that were not considered possible before. With technology constantly increasing, the definition and practices for public relations will continually be changing. For those of us studying public relations it is important to understand the significant changes that are taking place so that we can develop new techniques for assisting our clients. Social media is slowly, but surely changing the way professionals conduct work and it is impacting the world in bigger ways than we ever thought possible.
Elliot, S. (2011, November 20). Redefining Public Relations in the Age of Social Media. The New York Times. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.nytimes.com/2011/11/21/business/media/redefining-public-relations-in-the-age-of-social-media.html?_r=0
Taylor, M., & Kent, K. L. (2011, June 4). Anticipatory Socialization in the Use of Social Media in Public Relations: A Content Analysis of PRSA’s Public Relations Tactics, Public Relations Review, 36 (3), 207-214.
Wright, D. K., & Hinson, M. (2014, July 22). Examining How Social and Other Emerging Media Are Being Used in Public Relations. Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved November 10, 2015, from http://www.instituteforpr.org/examining-social-emerging-media-used-public-relations/