Public Relations & the Impact of New Media

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Public Relations & The Impact of New Media

Public Relations is a pivotal part of any business because it is the most direct communication between the business and the public. For a business to enjoy long term success it has to have the ability to evolve and adapt with the ever changing trends of the public in order to understand the needs and concerns of the general public. Author and entrepreneur Deirdre K. Breakenridge (2008) states in her book 'PR 2.0 New Media, New Tools, New Audiences' that "It’s critical for PR professionals to read, be knowledgeable, and stay extremely well versed about the markets their brands try to reach." The 20th century brought TV, radio, and the Internet, which greatly impacted the practice of Public Relations. But just as these media channels brought impact and change to the practice of public relations then, so will the rise of new media in the 21st Century.

With the emergence of many new online communication tools and channels due to the technological advancements of our time, public relations practitioners can no longer rely solely on traditional media to channel their messages. Today new media has been recognised as one of the strongest forms of channelling messages across to the public. It is extremely vital that PR practitioners learn, explore, and understand the use of new media and the roles it can play in public relations campaigns. This essay will examine the roles new media play in public relations campaigns and what the prevalence of new media imply for PR practitioners.

Today new media is at the heart of companies' public relations and marketing initiatives. One of the roles of new media in public relations is to build efficient and effective communication between public relations practitioners, or an organization they represent, and the different specific public groups they are trying to reach. Public relations practitioners rely on the tools and channels that new media provide for different purposes, all of which are part of effective communication and connecting with the public. Some of the purposes include building or maintaining relationships, garnering support and reputation, gaining feedback, delivering certain messages or news.

In this day and age it has become essential for public relations to engage in continuous dialogue with the public. As the ways in which people transmit and receive information are rapidly evolving so must the ways in which PR interacts with the public. With new tools that are open to PR practitioners for communicating like E-mails, websites, digital/online newsletters, blogs, viral marketing, search engines, live conference calls, RSS and podcasting. (Aronson, Spetner and Ames, 2007, p. 1), new media provides enhanced information delivery systems and granting everyone with easy access to vehicles of mass communication. Theaker (2008) indicates that "Websites are already regarded as a mainstream element of corporate communications, and PR practitioners should be involved when clients set up websites,". "The Internet provides the unique opportunity for people of all ages to acquire, digest, and understand a message through images, graphics, video, audio and other visual displays which the traditional media could not put together to effectively communicate." (Macky, 2011, p. 1).

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In addition to its use for connecting with the target public. New media can also be used in public relations for connecting with media outlets. Many trade publications, magazines and bloggers run blogs, Twitter accounts and Facebook pages for their news source. Majority of the latest news and cultural trends are carried on social networks and micro blogging services like Facebook and Twitter. Fitch (2009) states that "blogs have value as research tools in that they offer an insight to the complexity, subtlety, diversity, and the contradictions and lack of cohesion in public opinion." Public relations practitioners would find that staying connected with...
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