Social Media & Public Relations- NOTES

Notes on Social Media and Public Relations by Dierdre Breakenridge


  • Brief Summary of the Book’s Purpose/Argument:
    • Meant to help a company plan and organize their PR and social media strategy now that social media makes such a big part in a consumer’s everyday life.
    • Emphasis on
      • Division of responsibilities
        • Employees within the company
        • Employees outside of the company
        • Non-employees outside of the company
    • Using traditional PR strategies and adapting them to new technologies/social media
  • Which of Baym’s four major social discourses of new technology, if any one?
    • My notes and interpretation of the book has a biggggg focus on technological determinism
      • TONS of evidence for this
      • Can’t really think of any time Dierdre mentions the fact that we’re the ones who created social media and encourage it/influence it every day
      • It’s more like –> social media happened, now we have to change our methods. (page numbers and detailed evidence in notes!)
  • Audience:
    • PR professionals
      • Very very specific methods and suggestions
        • Ex. Putting signs in the office’s bathrooms to remind employees about company’s attitude/goals
      • Especially those that tend to lean on traditional PR strategies that don’t involve social media
  • Topics/concepts from the course that relate to the conversation?
    • Lurking AND surveillance
      • within the company AND with the public
      • *I write about this one a lot in the notes!!!
    • Free labor discussion
      • Prompting the public to talk about the product and to help the company improve
      • Also telling the employees to pretty much make the branding of the product a part of their outside of work lives too
      • *I write a lot about this one to !!!
    • Generally very heavily focused on social media (instead of other PR strategies)
    • Affordance of disembedding
    • Perpetual beta
      • Chapter 2
      • Strategy/policies should be updated every 6 months/year
    • More surveillance
      • Crisis management
    • Weak/strong ties
      • Connected to free labor
    • PR in general as immaterial labor


  • Anything in caps lock –> course concepts that come up
  • Everything else –> summarizing concepts and main points (or at least trying my best to)
  • * Asterisk –>  point of contention/questions/confusions
    • When Social Media meets PR, communication unites with technology
      • Digitally connected consumer –> new approach in PR & research
      • Use of new media and information technologies

PR PRACTICE #1: The PR Policymaker

  • Development of social media policies and maintenance of them
    • Social governance for employee communication in the social landscape
    • Guidelines to teach the public how to participate with the brand socially and protect them
  • Preparing for development process  –>  social media audit (profile review)
    • Analyzes participation on social media about brand
      • Type/size of community
      • image/logo
      • level of engagement
      • strategy of social profile
      • frequency of conversations
      • type of shared content
      • tracking/measuring all of this
    • compare findings with competitors
  • plan must be updated every 6 months or yearly –> PERPETUAL BETA
  • build social media core team
  • research and writing process
    • code of ethics
    • code of conduct
    • confidentiality
    • privacy
    • ads
  • communicating and measuring policy compliance  –> employees
    • *what if employees do not comply to the policies?
    • *are there policies that are left unwritten and unofficial (I’ll get more into this later on)
  • about influencing what others say about the company
    • BRANDING: managing the reputation of the company through its policies

PR PRACTICE #2: The Internal Collaboration Generator

  • Working with PR, advertising, marketing, HR, IT, Legal, Sales, etc.
  • To increase sharing, collaboration, innovation for better internal and external communication
  • Introducing new technology into the organization
    • Change management
  • Internal comm. Necessary for external comm. To be effective and meaningful (social media)
    • Collaborative technology
      • The more its all in real time, the more clients can see this too

PR PRACTICE #3: The PR Technology Tester

  • Using technology strategically for greater peer-to-peer comm.
    • For the effective use of info technologies
  • Steps:
    • Research
    • Demo
    • Trial test
    • Evaluation
    • Decide on a technology
  • Tools:
    • Social media monitoring/measuring
    • Website analytics
    • Social media influence tools
    • Collaborative social media platforms
    • Content management systems
    • Social media releases vs. news wires w/ PR 2.0 capabilities
  • Purpose/Responsibilities:
    • Strengthen monitoring/tracking program
    • Guide your distribution/channel strategy
    • Content creation and optimization
    • Focus on your measurement strategy
    • Identify a better engagement strategy
    • Contest/sweepstakes/promotions and mobile apps

PR PRACTICE #4: The Communications (COMMS) Organizer

  • What it does:
    • Educates and redirects an organization to implement a new comm. Process
      • Create new types of stories
        • Developing, coordinating, curating content through diff. channels
  • All levels of organization are “listening” and “doing intelligence”
    • *FREE LABOR?
    • *are employees getting paid to constantly “listen”
    • *is this really necessary for the company’s success?
    • *how does the company teach its employees how to effectively “listen” and what does “doing intelligence” really mean?
  • 5 procedures –which help a company to have effective internal comm. to be able to offer valuable contributions through social media:
    • 1. Setting up overall company monitoring and customer intelligence
    • 2. Building a two-prong approach for content
      • making existing content social –>  PERFORMANCE OF THE SELF
        • –> self performance: the company wants to have the voice of an actual person instead of robotic advertising
        • we’re more bound to like the brand if we relate to it
        • personal example with tweets:
          • “buy one get one free!” – NO
          • “I totally need one of these pronto. #yolo” – YES (lol)
      • search for new content ideas
    • 3. Creating a more universal sharing system
    • 4. Developing a social media “share” book or playbook
    • 5. Creating the social media purpose brief
      • make sure you have a specific voice
  • PR PRACTICE #5: The Pre-Crisis Doctor
    • Managing reputation and crisis management –> before anything major happens
    • Knowing what to respond to a public outcry
      • Good news –> conversations are public and easy to find and address
      • Bad news –> a small negative comment can turn into a massive conversation in all media channels
      • P. 71- “preparing and handling crisis through newer communications channels is different than situations in years past”
    • Proactively monitor social media conversations and track the sentiment of customers and other stakeholders when conversations are under “control”
  • Because of social media –> 24/7 interactions and a broader reach and negative stories spread faster
    • Also twitter is faster than news reporters –> can evaluate issue quickly and fix it before bigger media reports it
  • Resources
    • Comment response chart
      • Using the comments to change how the company communicates to the public (response to negative comments)
    • Your target media
      • SOCIAL CAPITAL/TIES: build strong relationships with journalists who can let you know about a negative comment and help spread company’s response to followers
    • An identify, evaluate, and train process for social crisis measurement
      • SURVEILLANCE: p. 81- “set up potential negative or crisis keywords so that you can watch closely how people refer to the brand to catch any negative activity before it escalates
        • *Creepy!! – interesting how she says this so bluntly- because its actually necessary to stalk

PR Practice #6: The Relationship Analyzer

  • Good relationship with the media (journalists + bloggers) important
  • Strategic practice that uses psychographics of people based on like-mindedness and common critical issues
    • study of behavioral actions between people in communities
  • 3 parts to the process
    • Part I: Development of the audience profile (HUGO LIU -TASTE PERFORMANCE)
    • Part II: Technology to analyze direction/growth (SOCIAL TIES/CAPITAL: REALTIONSHIP LEVELS/STAIRWAY- p. 101 + 112)
    • Part III: Strategy to build relationships based on community culture
      • Adapting/using technology based on consumers needs/wants (p. 97)
        • (turning website properties into social communities  –> ex. Online newsroom + social media)
  • TECHNOLOGICAL DETERMINISM –>  “the Internet changed how quickly and directly we could interact, communicate, and share information” (p. 110)
    • ALSO! –> p. 125, PR Practice #7
      • Interview
        • Social media strategy necessary for success! –> need to adapt
        • “There is no other option than to be proactive” (end of p. 127)

PR Practice #7: The Reputation Task Force Member

    • P. 103- could be positive or negative for a company’s reputation
    • Perception of quality can change easily based on what we see online
  • Increased need to
    • Be more productive with brand management
    • Provide internal education about brand value and voice
    • Build a team of relentless sentiment auditors
        • Importance of unique voice as well
        • Some things are out of our control
  • Responsibilities
    • Building the human face (p. 117) –>  AUTHENTICITY  –> BUILDING TRUST (p. 118)
    • Helping stakeholders to understand the brand’s core values
    • Learning the best ways to monitor and measure sentiment- SURVEILLANCE OR LURKING?
      • “the brand police”
    • Growing the reputation task force team
      • Companywide responsibility –> FREE LABOR MAYBE?
        • P. 123: “Every employee who partakes in social media technically becomes a part of customer service…”
        • They all have to become “brand reputation champions”
        • Bonuses maybe? Is their money put into this?
          • “Getting employees better involved invested in their organization’s brands is never a wasted effort” (p. 125)
            • would it be wasted money if it was spent on this as well
            • does this make the free labor unfair?

PR Practice #8: The Master of the Metrics

  • How engagement leads to business outcomes
    • Measuring success and performance compared to the competition
    • Creating the appropriate metrics and reporting measurement
  • Responsibilities:
    • Understanding social media ROI (Return on Investment) for executives
      • How much money made on each SNS
    • Discovering a 6-step process for programs across the company
      • Review sentiment metrics
      • Peaks and valleys of daily volume
      • Audience activity
      • Analyze online conversations about brand (SOS metrics)
      • Relationships with top influencers
      • Thought leadership
    • Determining the difference between Inform, Inspire, Engage metrics
      • 3 phases of participation  –> difference of importance

Using Your New PR Practices to Become and Influencer and Change Agent

  • All practices go down to managing relationships
    • Gain others’ trust
  • “When PR meets social media, the result is daily change” (p. 146) –> PERPETUAL BETA
  • influence –> popularity
  • Responsibilitiesà Building the characteristics of influence
    • Trust
    • In-depth knowledge
    • Industry expertise
    • Intense motivation
    • Pure passion
    • Winning attitude
    • Giving spirit
    • NOT INCLUDED: control or authority over a peer’s behavior (p. 148)
  • Change Agent Scale:
    • Change thinker/visualizer
    • Talker/motivator
    • Simple change activator
    • Complex change activator
    • The true change agent
  • “This is an era of transparency” p. 154
  • “people sharing content because they’re compelled to do so” –p. 155 –> FREE LABOR
  • people discussing brand on social media –> not earned media
    • not paid, owned and earned media
    • co-created media
    • “we have to change how we think about media and how it benefits us”
    • “without engagement or design, how will any media work to our advantage?” (p. 155)

10. The Future of PR and Social Media

  • “when social media met public relations, communication techniques advanced, additional practices surfaced, and your rules and responsibilities changed and grew in importance” (p. 157)
      • “you cannot control communication”
      • “the PR predictions in the future –> based on consumer behavior and technology –>  SOCIAL CONSTRUCTION?
        • BACK TO TECHNO DETERMINISM –>  technology improves –> consumers feel more connected
      • What consumes experience and how they share info
        • Consumer behavior/culture –> media adapts –> PR adapts
      • “communication and the technology that facilitates the interactions…” (P. 158)
      • these new practices are necessary
      • “social media and its growing proliferation has changed what we do” (p. 159)
        • PR is being redefined
      • “you had one choice” (p. 160) –>  learn new communication practices involving social media
        • you didn’t have the option to refuse to use it to your benefit


  1. […] media improves traditional PR practices, it doesn’t change them. D2i recognized this, except Melisa and Stephanie, who identified a more technologically deterministic standing. Breakenridge could […]

  2. […] On the contrary, as Melisa Demaestri points out, it seems like Breakenbridge is arguing that “social media [was invented and] now we have to change our methods.“ By stating that companies must “adapt or die trying” Breakenbridge argues that it […]

  3. […] reputation of the brand through helping consumers understand the brand’s core values, and the Master of the Metrics, who measures progress and performance of social media initiatives, and creates the appropriate […]

  4. […] changed how quickly and directly we could interact, communicate, and share information.” (p. 110) As Melisa notes, Breakenridge never acknowledges human agency in creating social media sites. She considers […]

  5. […] seems to believe the later, interpreting the text as reading “social media happened, now we have to change our methods.” Other member of d2i, such as Alison and Patrick, felt that Breakenridge was detailing ways in which […]

  6. […] seems to believe the later, interpreting the text as reading “social media happened, now we have to change our methods.” Other member of d2i, such as Alison and Patrick, felt that Breakenridge was detailing ways in which […]

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s