A Report About How Social Media Can Be Used Innovatively In Work As A Journalist Or PR Professional
Table of Contents
Advancement in technology and the digital technology to be precise has transformed the field of public relations. Public relations professionals make use of the new technologies in social media to advance their work of collecting, analysing, and communicating information to the general public. A good number of successful companies use innovations in social media to relate effectively with the public. Some of the innovations of social media used by public relations professionals are; Live- Streaming and 360 degrees video, Pinterest lens, influencers, and getting feedback.
A Report About Innovation in Social Media In Public Relations
Public relations (PR) denote the deliberate management of data and information between organisations or individuals and general public. The aim of public relations is to create a mutual relationship between the communicator and the general public. In this doing, social media or the digital media is very vital. Public relations (PR) are faced with the threat of new technologies in the new media. Several platforms are used to collect and disseminate information to the highly demanding public as driven by the new technology. Therefore, social media and the internet have altered the process of producing, distributing, and displaying information. Avery, Lariscy, Amador, Ickowitz, Primm and Taylor (2010) noted that internet technology has revolutionized communication because it is the base of the social media. Therefore, to the PR professionals, the internet poses three main challenges; staying up-to-date regarding the technology advancements in social media, performing media dealings with modern and eccentric presses, and representing companies and institutions in the digital media (Yang & Lim, 2009; Smith, 2013). To understand how public relation practitioners can apply digital media strategies in their work, it is important to understand public relations.
Stammerjohan, Wood, Chang and Thorson (2005) define public relations as planned communication between the communicator and the publics with an aim of achieving specific objectives that regard mutual understanding. To communicate with the public, public relations practitioners have traditionally relied on the traditional media. However, with the increased advancement in technology especially the internet technology, the new media has gained currency as a tool and a strategy used for communication in several organization. There are several definitions for the new media but this study focuses on social media as the new media. While discussing the evolution of the integrated media communication, Schultz and Path (2009) argued that social media has revolutionized the public relations environment and PR professionals do not collect, analyse and disseminate information since social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, blogs, and YouTube act as the multiple sources of information.
Park and Reber (2008) discussed the connection between creating and using websites and observed that various companies listed in the Fortune 500 companies build customer relationships through their websites. According to the authors, the main aim of communication between companies and the public is to create awareness of the products and services offered to the public. Social media have been proved to work very effectively in creating this awareness. As a result, social media has a significant impact on the practice of public relations. Park and Reber (2008) argue that social media is the most used internet platform with over 55% of the internet users have joined social media networks, thus taking a higher rate than pornography. Nevertheless, social media has changed the communication pattern for people and organizations but it still remains very hard to define social media. This is because what is referred as social media is the audio, written, or video communication content created using basic tools (Park & Reber, 2008). However, understanding social media involves understanding how social media networks work in dissemination and display of information. Social media offers a platform where users can post in networks such as Facebook, Instagram, Snapchat, Twitter, and YouTube among others. Social media further include mobile- generated apps such as WhatsApp that help people communicate online.
The benefits of reaching out to the public offered by social media networks cannot be ignored by public relations practitioners. The use of social media is fuelled by the fact that most people use smartphones where they access information and news through social media unlike traditionally when social media platforms were only applicable on computers. Interestingly, over 1.1 billion Facebook users log in daily representing about 17% annual increase from 2015 (Social Media Today, 2016). Further, a study conducted by Social Media Today in 2015 revealed that micro- blogging was used by 307 people monthly while Twitter was used by over 255 million people monthly. This is a clear indication that social media is high demanded and used by the public as a tool for sourcing information.
The rapid developments in social media have made essential intersections in the field of public relations. Several successful companies such as Apple, Wal-Mart, and Amazon have invested heavily in social media as a strategy to communicate their brands, services, and products in the market. Essentially, people tend to believe the information given by their peers and friends in social media than the company’s marketing team. As mentioned by Samarasinghe (2019), the power of social media is manifested by celebrity endorsement. Social media platforms such as Snapchat, Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook have become inextricable famous in the current world through endorsement by celebrities such as models, Grammy winners, reality television stars, and actresses among others who command high traffic and following. For instance, 14.8 million users followed Beyonce on Twitter and over 64.5 million people liked her Facebook page likes indicating that she has a very large following and hence she is likely to have a great impact in social media (Samarasinghe, 2019).
Folstand and Brandtzaeg (2016) maintained that the application of social media tools is a part of the pattern that centres on the importance of two or several directional in public relations instead of dissemination of information. As such, several public relations experts believe that social media positively impacts public relations. For instance, public relations practitioners take the advantage of social media to improve dialogue among the public and hence help in the promotion of products and services thus paving way for two- way means of communication (Folstand & Brandtzaeg, 2016).
According to Pavlik and McIntosh (2011) and Schulhofer-Wohl and Miguel (2013), public relations practitioners can innovatively use social media in their work. A good example given is the Live- Streaming and 360 degrees video. Basically, the use of videos is very effective in communication because of the visual convincing power. With the advancement in technology, the attraction of videos is taken to another level in live- streaming and 360 degrees videos. Facebook offers an opportunity of live- streaming where individuals can communicate to the audience in a live video thus conveying the intended message very effectively. The accent of live- streaming is on the feeling of being behind the scenes and the audience feels part of the event rather than being just a watcher. Additionally, public relations practitioners can get instant feedback and likes through live- streaming on Facebook. Live- streaming brings liveness and bearing witness as well as visually driven content. Videos have an intrinsic pragmatism and viewers relate them with great genuineness. For instance, the torture and racial taunting of Chicago man that was streamed live on Facebook by a woman led to four arrests in 2017 (Grinberg, 2017). Live- streaming on social media increases citizen reporting. Although, media organizations dominate news content as they act as gate keepers, social media offers an environment for do- it- yourself by sharing information ensuring that the media houses are not necessarily the last gate. The extensive usage of smartphone cameras as well as one- touch publishing have made citizen journalism mode of modern media environment (Folstand & Brandtzaeg, 2016). NPR is a good example of media companies that use Facebook Live videos to reach a wider audience. For instance, NPR’s Mega Tuesday and the spontaneous reporting of the SXSW music festival in Austin are some of the areas where the company has used Facebook Live Videos to communicate to the audience. Buzzfeed has done more than 70 Live videos in their Facebook pages (BuzzFeed News, BuzzFeed DIY, Tasty, and BuzzFeed Food) with the top video drawing viewership in millions. A good example is the BuzzFeed Tasty’s Fondue Party that had over 5.2 million views and several comments (Mullin, 2016).
Pinterest lens is another innovation in social media (Pinterest platform) that is regarded as visual discovery by public relations practitioners (Pavlik & McIntosh, 2011). Pinterest lens generates an idea by suggesting styling recipes, ideas, and other related products. For instance, once a photo of something has been taken and posted on social media it generates pins that contain relevant products and there are some suggested ideas as well. The New York Times has almost 24 fashion, food, and wedding boards combined and it experimented with Pinterest during the Fashion Week (Tenore, 2012). Wall Street Journal on the other hand, used Pinterest during the Fashion Week to highlight feature content by asking the online readers to create a board that show fashions that influence their sense of style (Chaykowski, 2017). Pinterest lens is also used by public relation practitioners to showcase local attractions. By creating boards, tourism companies reach out to new audiences whereby Pinterest users looking for local tourist attraction sites may come across pins posted on the network. A good example is the Orlando Sentinel that has boards that highlight Walt Disney World, Kennedy Space Center, and other Orlando theme parks (Tenore, 2012).
Bulatova and Beysenkulov (2015) argued that social media can enable public relations practitioners to meet their objectives and goals and can as well hinder the reputation management process depending on the prevailing situation. PR professionals use social media to find influencers in the market. Influencers give brands a voice that they cannot use on their own. The high digital following of social media is an opportunity for practitioners and brands to tap in promoting their information and protecting their reputations. For instance, PR professionals using social media have an opportunity of covering a large area and reaching a large target audience as compared to the traditional media. Therefore, to achieve the goals of public relations practitioners, social media can be used innovatively as cross- platform influencers. Traditionally, public relation practitioners relied on celebrity endorsement but with the development of social media, emphasis is placed on social media influencers. These influencers are regarded as relatable. Bulatova and Beysenkulov (2015) define social media influencers as trusted voices that drive action and conversion in community and when utilized well they can be of great help in journalism. Social media influencers help in spreading the word on social media because they share content about an idea. Public relations practitioners engage in cross platforms by following the influencers on social media platforms such as Twitter, liking Facebook pages, subscribing to blogs, and adding them to LinkedIn and Google+.
Public relations practitioners improve their information by getting feedback on social media. For instance, Gillette performance of the first launched shaving products was based on the feedback inferred from social media. Additionally, Tesla improved their app after the CEO Elon Musk read customer complaints on Twitter (Bertschek & Kesler, 2017). This shows that the feedback offered on social media helps public relations practitioners to improve their services to fit the demands and needs of the target audience. Nonetheless, Schulhofer-Wohl and Miguel (2013) argued that social media is very sensitive because it can be used negatively thus adversely affecting the information disseminated by a public relations practitioner.
Social media has brought new developments and innovations in citizen journalism especially to the public relations practitioners. Social media has a potential of reaching out to a large customer base and hence it has very strong impact on public relations. As technology advances, new innovations are arising in social media which can significantly improve the role and impact of citizen journalism. Unlike traditionally when videos and photos had minimal impact on dissemination of information, they are a key issue in the new era of public relations. Facebook which is the widely used social media platform can be innovatively used in public relations to improve information collection and dissemination. Companies that have successfully used social media innovatively to create and increase awareness in the market have been very effective because of the large coverage of the platform. However, social media has its own challenges which need to be addressed amicably in order to effectively achieve the goals set. For instance, it is important to understand that social media can as well be used to tarnish the name of an organization in the same magnitude it can be used to promote it.
Avery, E., Lariscy, R., Amador, E., Ickowitz, T., Primm, C. & Taylor, A. (2010). Diffusion of social media among public relations practitioners in health departments across various community population sizes. Journal of Public Relations Research, 22(3), 336-358
Bertschek, I. & Kesler, R. (2017). Does engaging with customers on Facebook lead to better product ideas? Harvard Business Review, 2-17
Bulatova, M. & Beysenkulov, A. (2015). Innovation journalism: The new way of the media development. European Journal of Social Sciences, 2(4), 518-524
Chaykowski, K. (2017). Pinterest’s new lens tool places real world objects in digital context. Forbes. Retrieved from: https://www.forbes.com/sites/kathleenchaykowski/2017/02/08/pinterest-debuts-new-camera-lens-search-tools-to-find-real-world-objects-online/#fd15cad60e15
Folstand, A. & Brandtzaeg, P. (2016). Social media use and innovations: Editorial introduction. The Journal of Media Innovations, 3(1), 45-61
Grinberg, E. (2017). Chicago torture: Facebook live video leads to 4 arrests. CNN. Retrieved from: https://edition.cnn.com/2017/01/04/us/chicago-facebook-live-beating/
Mullin, B. (2016). How 4 news organizations are using Facebook Live to reach broader audiences. Poynter. Retrieved from: https://www.poynter.org/tech-tools/2016/how-4-news-organizations-are-using-facebook-live-to-reach-broader-audiences/
Park, H., & Reber, B. H. (2008). Relationship building and the use of web sites: How Fortune 500 corporations use their web sites to build relationships. Public Relations Review, 34(2), 409–411
Pavlik, J. & McIntosh, S. (2011). Converging media: A new introduction to mass communication. New York: Oxford University Press
Samarasinghe, U. (2019). Social media and celebrity endorsement: An analysis of literature review. International Journal of Scientific and Engineering Research, 9(12), 125-150
Schulhofer-Wohl, S. & Miguel, G. (2013). Do newspapers matter? Short run and long run evidence from the closure of the Cincinnati Post. Journal of Media Economics, 3(2), 45-49
Schultz, D. E., & Path, C. H. (2009). The evolution of IMC: IMC in a customer-driven marketplace. Journal of Marketing Communications, 15(2/3), 75–84
Smith, B.G. (2013) Exploring social media empowerment of public relations: A case study of health communication practitioner roles and the use of social media. In: Al-Deen H.S.N., Hendricks J.A. (eds) Social Media and Strategies Communications. London: Palgrave Macmillan
Stammerjohan, C., Wood, C. W., Chang, Y., & Thorson, E. (2005). An empirical investigation of the interaction between publicity and advertising, and previous brand attitudes and knowledge. Journal of Advertising, 34(4), 55–67
Tenore, M. (2012). 5 ways journalists are using Pinterest. Poynter. Retrieved from: https://www.poynter.org/reporting-editing/2012/5-ways-journalists-are-using-pinterest/
Yang, S.U. & Lim, S. (2009). The effects of blog-mediated public relations (BMPR) on relational trust. Journal of Public Relations Research, 21, 341–359