Archive for October, 2013

Social Media

Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, Tumblr, Instagram, LinkedIn, WordPress.  These are the most thought of and used popular social networking sites.  Social networking and social media are often thought of as one in the same.  That is not necessarily the case.  Social media uses social networking sites to share information and deliver messages to specific audiences.  Social media includes blogs, social networking, RSS feeds, websites, podcasts, reviews, bulletin boards, and news groups, and also has the power to support or destroy a brand or reputation (Wilcox, et al 2013). Social networking is more of a two way street of communication or conversation among communities of people with similar likes and common interests.  Social networking and social media tend to overlap.

Billions of individuals, companies, organizations, and governments worldwide use social media to get their messages across to the masses.  Many use websites as a tool to sell products and services, and to allow the public to purchase their goods online.  Websites are also used to provide information about organizations, often incorporating webcasts (or webinars) to convey their messages to their publics.  Social media can also be used to organize protests, demonstrations, and revolutions.

One of the biggest advantages to using social media is the huge cost benefit it provides to companies and their publics.  Employee trainings, company briefings, and new product launches can all be communicated through social media webcasts, saving both time and money by eliminating the need and costs for travel.  Webcasts can also serve as infomercials that can be viewed internationally on a computer, Ipad, and even by cell phone.  This method of “pushing” information can help with public relations, marketing, and sales in very cost effective ways.  But not everything related to social media is positive.

Social media users have been plagued by a variety of negative factors including privacy issues, decreased productivity, cyber-bullying, and a false sense of connection and community (Jung, n.d.).  Because of the public’s willingness to share and post so much information on social networking sites, some people have found themselves victims of compromised bank accounts and credit cards.  Others have encountered issues with their employers, sometimes even losing their jobs over photos and comments they’ve posted publicly.  Hackers have swiped valuable, private information from governments and businesses gaining access to credit card information, employee records, email addresses, nuclear power program information, social security information, and intellectual property (Amerding, 2012).  Cyber-bully’s have lead people to commit suicide, and sometimes individuals who find love online regret to learn they’ve become a victim of a scammer, or worse, the person they’ve fallen in love with does not even exist.

We live in a world where technology has made our lives easier and more convenient.  Social media has made communication across the globe instant and free.  Christmas shopping can now be done on your couch in your p.j.’s, and almost unlimited information is available at your fingertips on the Internet. Making money by selling your product no longer requires an out of home office set up and additional paid staff.  Although we recognize social media as a reliable and great technological tool, we must also keep in mind the potential dangers it can bring.

Armerding, Taylor. (February 15, 2012). The Fifteen Worst Data Security Breaches of the 21st Century. CSO Online.  Retrieved from

Jung, Brian. (n.d.). The Negative Effect of Social Media on Society and Individuals. The Houston Chronicle.  Retrieved from

Wilcox, Dennis L., Cameron, Glen T., Reber, Bryan H., & Shin, Jae-Hwa. (2013). Think Public Relations. 12, 251.


Why Research At All?

One of the most important measures of success in public relations is research.  You may think to yourself, “Why should I do research?  My instincts are good and I have experience on my topic.”   In the business world, that is not enough.  Since public relations plays a management role in an organization research becomes very important in identifying issues, engaging in problem solving, managing and preventing crisis, creating good internal policies, and building a good relationship with audiences (Broom & Dozier, 1990).

Research is important when it comes to communication.  Unlike journalism, which is a one way street of providing information to publics, PR is a two-way relationship between its organization and its publics.  We all know that in any type of relationship a two-way street of communication makes things work better.  Research puts us in touch with our publics allowing us to have a better understanding of their needs and behaviors.  It allows us to have a better understanding of the organization too, and is helpful in strategic planning to meet objectives and goals.  By conducting good research we can ensure that our intended message reaches a target audience comprised of those who want, need or care about the information we are trying to share (Public Relations v. 1.0, n.d.).

Another very important reason research is important is money.  As stated previously, research helps us strategize and target specific audiences thereby preventing public relations professionals from wasting money communicating to the wrong people.  Solid research also helps us to create a better budget since we have facts to back up our campaign plan, and that makes management happy.

Finally, by doing research we are able to better measure outcomes and show results related to the work we’ve put in.  These are some of the most important reasons why public relations research is necessary if you want to be a successful public relations professional.

Broom, G. M., & Dozier, D. M. (1990). Using research in public relations: Applications to program management. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall

Public Relations v. 1.0 Public Relations Research: The Key To Strategy Chapter 8. (n.d.) Retrieved from