Social Media and Public Relations Notes

In Social Media and Public Relations, Deirdre K. Breakenridge describes 8 social media skills and mindsets linked to PR success TODAY.  Breakenridge argues the importance of integrating social media and PR with other key business functions in order to enhance communication about coworkers, with the hope of enhancing offline communication.


Public Relations Career: handling communications in the public spotlight because of the increasing use of social media

Eight New Practices:


  • Quickly learns that a crucial part of the communication strategy and planning process includes development of social media politics, training and governance

The Internal Collaboration Generator (IN CHARGE OF DISEMBEDDING)

  • Communications professional who appreciates how social media collaboration starts on the inside of the organization

The PR Technology Tester (THE LURKER)

  • Uses technology strategically for greater peer-to-peer communications

The Communications Organizer (IN CHARGE OF FREE LABOR)

  • Must educate and redirect an organization to implement a new communications process


  • Realizes every company today can face a crisis

The Relationship Analyzer (SOCIAL CAPITAL OPERATOR)  

  • Turns into the communications sociologist with the help of technology

The Reputation Task Force Member (MAINTAINER OF SELF-PRESENTATION)

  • Practices reputation management on steroids


  • Moves from just accepting metrics to forging ahead with measureable objectives and metrics tied to higher-level organizational goals


New PR Mindset – more businesses becoming “socialized” to meet the needs of their customers

Social media moving across organization from marketing and sales to IT and product development

How you adapt and learn new practices and how you help your peers adapt

Baym’s Four Major Discourses: 

Social Shaping – merging PR and social media is essentially merging the offline and the online worlds

Social Media is much more modern and updated in terms of strategies and ways to create new business plans (all done in the online world)

  • Businesses do not have to be technology-based businesses in order to implement social media strategies into their company

Taking advantage of technological affordances to help build the company

May be leaning more towards the technological determinist side because Breakenridge is emphasizing that PR companies must use these technological affordances to their advantage in order to implement new strategies to be successful

  • Must conform

Technology could be spearheading social shaping

“The Internet and social media made this more than possibility; its your new reality” (39).


PR Professionals – specifically outdated ones who need to change their strategies and techniques in order to be more successful

Social media experts don’t need this book, its mainly for people who want quick success

Audience affects the topics because the book is specifically geared towards companies who are not implementing technology, specifically social media, into their daily work à could prosper from this change

The book is simply about PR and social media tactics so that is only relevant to PR professionals looking to change their company a bit

v The ideas and topics are spoken about by a social media expert in order to educate the professionals not taking advantage of the technology around them

Earlier Concepts:

Lurking – employees are watching other members within the company and also watching the public

  • Author says that “it’s important to reach employees wherever they hang out” (27) – she refers to signage in the restrooms or common lunch areas
  • “Listening” in social media is listening to conversations through the use of search and key words
  • PR analytics is somewhat “lurking” because the PR Tech Testers monitor all types of user activity such as recent visitor locations (where visitors go before going to your site), user profile data (gives a view of what you need to know about your visitor’s surfing habits), inbound link monitoring (links visitors click to get to your site)


  • Social Media Core Team – senior management and policymaker choose ‘social media champions’ to be a part of this team that creates vision and strategy
    • Management and policymaker must do surveillance on company in order to pick the right candidates
  • Small team of ‘champions’ (Coalition) – help research and find out how peers feel about new technology and the way they are communicating
  • PR Professional must conquer the difficult task of understanding and predicting one’s potential influence
    • Audience Size
    • Audience Engagement
    • Relevance
  • Tech Testers filter conversations by researching best hashtags to follow on twitter
  • Internet provides ability to search and find massive amounts of information on journalists (87) à “journalists have confessed to feeling stalked by PR professions who had too much knowledge about them” (88).

Disembedding – online communication is crucial

  • Collaborating with peers across company/companies will enable it to reach maximum efficiencies
  • Internal Collaboration Generator – will maximize everyone’s time, boost productive, cut down on e-mail overflow (23-24)
  • Important to find the best way to “use technology to share information and collaborate with other teams across the company” (28)

Free Labor – comes from consumers are employers, tweet about company/brand to promote it

  • Create strong ties with people in order to have them promote the brand/company
  • Employees will learn from coalition and will then further direct the effort (tweeting, promoting, writing about brand) to feel more involved in its success
    • This essentially boosts the company’s image for free but by insinuating the employers are the ones learning and helping in the success for the company at large
  • Technology naturally fits into employees’ working hours as much as it does in their personal lives –so why not do free social media for the company?
  • Pre-Crisis Doctor must monitor closely and constantly – social media never stops so just because the normal business day ends doesn’t mean this job is over (must work holidays, late nights and early mornings to keep up)
  • Immaterial Free Labor 

Social Capital – realize what resources you would get from what type of tie

  • Communication facilitates better interactions with the public
  • Also relates to impression management
  • Crucial in PR to nurture and leverage relationships
  • PR also must have good relationships with the media (both journalists AND bloggers)
  • Relationship Analyzer can observe sociology of social media and study behavior of community members and affects of social media on the relationship
    • Digs into psychographics of people based on common issues
    • Key to higher-level interactions is studying behavioral actions between people in your community à audience profiling
    • Must know the best way for the company to reach out and affect multiple groups in the social media world
    • Communicate in different ways to connect and interest different audiences
  • Must rely on technology to help visualize relationship and foster growth through loyal advocacy and awareness
  • Relationship Staircase – each step on the staircase brings the relationship closer to advocacy (91)
    • At the top you get an experience or ultimate engagement  (social media engagement goals)
    • The Casual Friend
    • The Taker with Good Info
    • The Giver
    • The Giver and Taker Friendship
    • The Trusted Confidante and/or Brand Champion
  • Metrics Master must show how social media measurement ties back to higher-level business goals (reduction in expenses or increase in revenue)
    • How engagement leads to business outcomes


  • Audience Profile – helps PR professionals engage more as “peers” and helpful/valued resource rather than communications professionals from an agency or corporation (91)
    • Identifies audience segments to see where groups are congregating à distinguish what topics interest them and find best ways to communicate with them
  • Reputation Task Force Manager must pay very close attention to reputation (especially with public conversations)
    • Social media makes sharing instantaneous across various human networks à companies can’t control the conversations
    • Brand reputation is always vulnerable
    • Main approaches to maintaining reputation:
      • Building the human face – people relate to people, build strong relationships
      • Helping stakeholders to understand the brand’s core values – brand style guide to keep the brand’s look and ensure messaging remains consistent
      • Learning the best ways to monitor and measure sentiment – ‘cut’ issues immediately that could potentially affect a brand’s reputation
      • Growing the Reputation Task Force Team


  • Doing the research and the policy writing process (Gandy’s “Matrix Multiplication and the Digital Divide”)
    • Select 5 strong social media policies created by other organizations
    • Use results of audit to guide you in policy writing
    • Create matrix or Guidelines for Engagement including 5 companies you select and list sections they use
    • Mark “yes” or “no” to determine if a company has all important areas of importance
    • If a section/guideline has at least 4 companies, it should be a part of your policy
    • How to roll out policies for employers and public

Impression Management – Pre-Crisis Doctor must plan and strategize for a crisis long before the incident actually occurs

  • Keep front stage and back stage separate in order to control how people think of the company
  • Need a team to proactively monitor social media channels in order to predict any potential crises à may see a tweet that could hurt the company that others favorite (front) so you send a direct message to the user to remove it or question it (back)
  • Must track the sentiments of customers and stakeholders

Face Work – related to our social relationships and impression management

  • PR is mostly about self-face – company tries to manage what other people think of them, and they have a concern for self-image/prestige/reputation
    • Social media is a good way to keep up this self-face
  • PR companies use many of the tactics for face work:
    • Manage multiple accounts (Breakenridge emphasizes this through the use of social media)
    • Getting help keeping up the account (various teams to do this)
    • Mediating disputes (crisis management)

All the sections melt together in the end – you can either embody all of them or some of them.  It seems like breaking the book into eight parts is a more attractive way of presenting the book and its concepts to the audience.  It may not have been the best way to present the topics because within each section she somewhat overlaps and even contradicts herself because there is so much repetition within the sections.  It is a little unrealistic to have each of these eight jobs within every PR firm because so many of them accomplish the same thing in a slightly different manner.

We were born into the social media and technological world, so it is much more difficult for us to understand how somebody else may not know the concepts addressed in the book. I feel as though there is an audience crisis and Breakenridge may not be able to fully address either type of audience.  This book is surely to confuse the people who know nothing about social media even more, and someone who does know about social media is reading repetition on repetition of the same topics and theories.

Everything Breakenridge says may be accurate, but all the information could have been summed up in an introduction, a few points on the key concepts and then a conclusion.  She repeated the same structure for each of the eight jobs and that made it difficult to read and made me skip over many of the repetitive portions in each chapter.


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