Public Relations and Social Media

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Figure 1: BDI Logo

An essay on the Black Dog Institute’s use of social media for public relations purposes.

Major Assessment:
How is social media being used by not-for-profit organisations for PR purposes? Choose one not-for-profit organisation operating in Australia and discuss – with reference to public relations and new media theory – how the organisation is using social media to manage their key stakeholders and community groups online.

The practice of public relations has seen a change in recent years, and now includes many and varied tools; including new media. The term ‘new media’ encompasses a variety of non-traditional methods including social media. This essay discusses the use of social media in a public relations capacity, to assist in managing an organisation’s key stakeholders and community groups online. The focus organisation is the Black Dog Institute (BDI), a notfor-profit organisation and an “educational, research, clinical and community-oriented facility offering specialist expertise in mood disorders” (Black Dog Institute, 2012). When considering how an organisation uses social media, it is important to understand who the key stakeholders are and also what constitutes social media tools. Some of the institute’s key stakeholders (otherwise known as the specific target audience) include health professionals, donors/sponsors and government agencies. So, with some of the key stakeholders defined, what then is social media? Social media, as a whole, is online media with which you – the user can participate. Mayfield (2008) states that social media of all kind shares most (or all) of the following characteristics – participation, openness, conversation, community and connectedness. The Black Dog institute has used several social media tools to get their message out to the wider community. The use of these new media tools, specifically social media tools, assists not-for-profit organisations such as The Black Dog Institute in managing their key stakeholders and community groups online. Social media is fast becoming an effective tool for public relations purposes and The Black Dog Institute has implemented a variety of tools such as wikis, social networking, blogging, video, an interactive website and applications suitable for iPhone, iPad and iPod. Figure 2: Social Media

The Black Dog Institute engages in wikis such as The Mental Health Wiki. The Mental Health Wiki (2012) which claims to be “a collaborative, open platform for capturing high quality information in the mental health field” is open to anyone however the site only allows suitably qualified people to contribute. So how does this wiki help The Black Dog Institute manage their key stakeholders? Through participation, the institute is able to demonstrate their expertise in the area of mental health therefore enhancing their reputation among other health organisations. Wikis are a potential destination for online

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PRN101 – Major Assignment

research and thus by contributing to such, the organisation is able to continuously improve relationships between themselves and their stakeholders (medical professionals) As a fundamental function of public relations is to build mutually beneficial relationships, the contributions supplied by the institute on the Mental Health Wiki would be accessible by other health care professionals. This accessibility is a key in building such relationships, and in turn, the institute has access to other organisation’s research material. On the flip side however, it is important for the institute to consider the legal ramifications of contributing to such a forum. Flynn (2012) states that social media content can be subpoenaed and used to support (or sink) an organisation in the event of litigation, therefore it is important that the institute adheres to laws affecting PR such as copyright, privacy and the Trade Practices Act. Facebook is a social networking site offering community,...
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