Over the past decade there has been a constant increase in the amount of social media platforms, and social media users. Some people call my generation (millennials) social media or technology addicts, which frankly might be true. I walk around campus and see everyone on their phones or laptops at all times. However, the older generation treats this as a bad thing, but they tend not to see all of the good that social media and technology has done. For instance, it has completely transformed the PR world for good.
In 2008, a study was conducted by Nina Eyrich, Monica L. Padman, and Kaye D. Sweetser which looked into how PR practitioners use social media or technological platforms. The study surveyed PR professionals and asked which forms of technological communications they were using. The results reported that most PR practitioners used about 6 different platforms; including email, blogs, Facebook, etc. Most were becoming more aware of the growing use of social media and were beginning to make the change at the time. However this article was almost 10 years ago meaning a lot of changes have been made in the way they use social media.
Now a large portion of the population is on social media so the shift has been made to a more interactive social media presence for the client. PR professionals now have the chance to be more interactive with their customer base and get the word out in a different platform. One recent example of social media management is from Wendy’s on Twitter. They used a McDonald’s announcement into a benefit for them by making sure their customer base as well as McDonalds knew that Wendy’s always uses fresh beef, while McDonalds is just beginning to make that switch. In the PR world you always need to be an advocate for you client or company and this was one example in which Wendy’s did both while using a social media platform.
Social Media has changed how PR professionals have to work and understand their client. This presents many new challenges for these PR firms, because it is brings a lot of new opportunities as well as issues. There is now crisis communication about posts on social media. If your client tweets or posts something that receives backlash then you will have to come up with tactics and strategies to undo the harm. On the other hand, this can benefit companies. If they have a good social media presences like Denny’s, or Wendy’s then their name is getting out there more and more and people will think of them more regularly.
Overall, there have been many changes in the PR world since social media took off. It gives customers a chance to have more of a voice as well as your company. It connects the client with the press, indirectly or directly. It creates a platform to express the values of your clients and reach a whole new customer base. Social media will be only more important in the future and new PR practitioner will have to face the changes that come along with that. Social media overall has changes PR, but in my opinion for the better.
Eyrich, N., Padman, M. L., & Sweetser, K. D. (2008). PR practitioners’ use of social media tools and communication technology. Public Relations Review, 34(4), 412-414. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2008.09.010
Smarty, A. (2015, April 03). How Social Media Can Help With PR. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from https://www.entrepreneur.com/article/244051
5 Ways Social Media has Changed Public Relations – 5WPR. (2016, November 08). Retrieved March 25, 2017, from http://www.5wpr.com/new/social-media-public-relations/