Social Media and Public Relations Review

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To be successful in any industry it is important to be aware of new trends and be able to implement new practices in order to remain current and relevant. In the book Social Media and Public Relations: Eight New Practices for the PR Professional, Deirdre K. Breakenridgeargues that the social media has completely transformed PR, and all PR professionals must be aware of, and able to use social media to meet the needs of their clients. Breakenridge believes that “professionals must discover new research methods, develop specific policies to guide employee and public participation, experiment with content through a variety of social media channels, and learn to connect and build relationships with stakeholders through new technologies”. A reoccurring theme throughout the book is that social media can be as much of a benefit to PR professionals, as a detriment if not managed properly.

Therefore, in Social Media and Public Relations Breakenridge provides a step-by-step guide to mastering the 8 primary roles or functions for professionals in social media. These categories, which each constitute one chapter in the book and are:

  • The PR Policy Maker
  • The Internal Collaboration Generator
  • The PR Technology Tester
  • The Communication (COMMS) Organizer
  • The Pre-Crisis Doctor
  • The Relationship Analyzer
  • The Reputation Task Force Member
  • The Master of the Metrics

image0031According to Breakenridge, each of these key roles can be performed by one PR manager or by a specialized team of PR professionals. While the concepts presented in the book can be utilized by all individualized interested in implementing PR, an abundance of the specific instructions for execution are more fitting for a larger corporation, as is also mentioned by my fellow KLM group member Juliepuliem. The target audience of this book I believe is two-fold. Firstly, and primarily it is for more experienced PR professionals looking to better understand the types of and specific uses of social media. Secondly, for new professionals looking for more advice as to the precise courses of action for implementing social media, because as mentioned by jlake2015, younger PR representatives are already well versed in social media basics. Many of the theories and core concepts of our Culture and Social Media Technologies are reflected in various ways throughout the chapters of Breakenridge’s work

The first chapter of the book introduces the role of the PR Policy Maker; the role of this professional is much how it sounds. As mentioned before, social media is a double edged sword, so when using social media to allow a company to “shape their own image” strict and comprehensive policies must be in place for all employees and relevant social media users. The main idea is to influence the dialogue and steer it in the proper direction. The idea of guidelines is reflective of the concept of context collapse (as motioned by KLM) described by Michael Wesch and Nancy Baym. Everyone comes from different backgrounds and varying understandings, which can contribute authenticity and diversity to a dialogue, but also could be misinterpreted and misrepresented.

The second principal is the role of the Internal Collaboration Generator, who’s role is to evaluate how the addition of social media within the workplace can facilitate increased collaboration and better manage everyday integrations and functions. This is important because as mentioned by Jlake2015 and helenli2013  “collaboration and idea sharing are fundamental to innovation”, and social media has the potential to assist in this respect. Especially when it comes to large companies with many offices Don Slater’s ideas of disembedding, which were also mentioned by nk1345, vl615  and juliepuliem. When individuals are physically distant from one another their conduct according to slater changes the way in which people interact, and share, which benefits all parties, involved.

The PR Technology Tester is primarily concerned with researching, using and adding technological advancements to currents practices. This position includes the use analytical and monitoring software to monitor usage and effects of potential technologies. This idea touches on a couple course concepts, the first is domestication (mentioned by nk1345), and to fully test technology it must become “domesticated” as described by Baym as when technology it no longer feels like a new technology when used. The entire KLM GROUP member pointed out that Breakenridge’s view on technology is most similar to social shaping in that what the PR professional is using is based both on the consumers interests as well as the influences of the technology working in cohesion.  Finally the concept of surveillance (as mentioned by KLM), which was explained in Humphreys,Who’s Watching Whom? Is an issue with this practice. It is always important to be aware that there are hundreds of ways for users to be monitored. The Communications Organizer is “the PR pro who knows an old communications process does not enable the company to reach social media success”. Their job is to modify practices based on company desires, which is also reflective of Baym’s theory of social construction, where the individual dictates technology use. The time where PR managers are the most needed is during a crisis, where they mitigate and mediate opinion. The Pre-Crisis doctor understands the potential issues and works preemptively on them. These valuations rely on the understanding of both the nightmare readers/users and audience (mentioned by jlake, vl615, carolinemisaki) as explained by Marwick & Boyd,”I Tweet Honestly, I Tweet Passionately: Twitter Users, Context Collapse, and the Imagined Audience”. The 7th position is of The Reputation Task Force Member who is responsible, for monitoring reputation effectively, which draws upon elements of presentation as explained by Papacharissi and Liu (mentioned by vl615, and  juliepuliem). The final position is the Master of Metrics, which is similar to the role of technology tester in monitoring usage, response, and effectiveness of social media.

As the KLM group discussed Breakenridge’s book is very comprehensive, to the point where the average PR professional arguably knows much of this “new” information, to the point where it is rather repetitive. There are a few other areas in which I think are lacking within the book. I believe the book does not accurately account for all employees, particularly those who have no interest in being involved in social media, how are they accommodated? Additionally I agree with vl615 in that Breakenridge instructs, but does not fully explain why we should implement every practice. I think there could have been more factual and historical perspective incorporated, like input from our class author’s work. I think a deeper explanation of the underlying concepts would provide readers with tools to better adapt when the next innovations change the game. While there is room for improvement in Social Media and Public Relations, overall it is comprehensive and helpful in introducing PR professionals to social media.

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