Social Media and the Evolution of Corporate Communications
Laura Matthews* Senior majoring in Corporate Communications Elon University
Social media has revolutionized corporate communications, rapidly changing the way that public relations campaigns or programs are distributed and measured. Rather than the traditional method of pure output, social media has forced corporate communications to shift to a dialogue in which the stakeholders, and not just the companies, have power over the message. Social media is a revolutionary communications tool that has quickly changed the ways in which public relations is practiced, becoming an integral part of corporate communications for many companies and offering public relations practitioners new options for every aspect of the corporate communications process.
Social media has revolutionized corporate communications. Social media marketing allows companies to communicate directly and instantly with their stakeholders, marking a shift from the traditional one-way output of corporate communications, to an expanded dialogue between company and consumer. This paper aims to examine the relationship between social media and corporate communications, specifically focusing on the uses of social media for public relations and analyzing the changes that have occurred within the industry as a result of social media tools. Social media marketing is an umbrella term that includes the use of social media for sales, marketing, customer service and public relations, indicating a convergence of these traditionally separate corporate departments. Social media consists of online technologies, practices or communities that people use to generate content and share opinions, insights, experiences and perspectives with each other (Television Bureau of Advertising, Inc., 2009). Examples include blogs (e.g. Blogger, Wordpress), intranets, podcasts, video sharing (e.g. YouTube), photo sharing (e.g. Flickr), social networks (e.g. Facebook, MySpace), wikis (e.g. Wikipedia), gaming sites, virtual worlds (e.g. SecondLife), micro-blogging (e.g. Twitter), videoconferencing, instant message chats, social event/calendar systems (e.g. Eventful), social bookmarking sites (e.g. Delicious, Digg, StumbleUpon), and news aggregation sites, among others. In the last decade these technologies have risen in popularity and ubiquity, and are being utilized by public relations practitioners to perpetuate the ever-changing industry of corporate communications. While it represents many different technologies, social media will be referred to in the singular form throughout this paper. * Keywords: social media, public relations, corporate communications, marketing E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
18 — The Elon Journal of Undergraduate Research in Communications • Vol. 1, No. 1 • Winter 2010 In today’s corporate world, the success or failure of any company hinges on public perception. The opinions of key company stakeholders, such as shareholders, investors, consumers, employees or members of the community in which the organization is based, are all crucial to the long-term success of the company, and should be viewed as such by executives. Social media allows for corporate communications opportunities that a decade ago would not have been plausible. Public relations is an old industry that has relied on the same tactics and formulas for much of its history, and that has traditionally been measured by the amount of media coverage resulting from output company messages. Social media is rapidly changing the way that public relations campaigns or programs are distributed and measured. Rather than the traditional method of pure output – completely company-controlled messages being broadcast to the stakeholders – social media has forced corporate communications to shift to a dialogue in which the stakeholders, and...