Understanding Public Relations
New media technologies for Not for Profit organisations
Analyse, discuss and explain how effectively Lifeline Australia is using new media technologies to manage the reputation and image of the organization and its relation to the publics.
New media technologies are a set of digital tools emerging in the end of 20th and the beginning of the 21st centuries, predominantly social media. The use of social media by all of the publics involved in public relations provides public relations practitioners with both new opportunities and challenges in their field of operation. Shifting from the public information and two-way asymmetric models to two-way symmetric models, publics now provide greater and real-time feedback with higher involvement, with the process of communication becoming a more defined two-way process (Wright and Hinson, 2008). Social media, a prominent form of modern-day electronic communication, is a collection of tools and platforms through which individuals create online communities to share information, ideas, experiences and other web-specific content (Niven, 2011). In the context of a Not-for-Profit organisation, social media is not only an effective marketing tool, but also an effective tool to manage the organisation’s reputation and image, influence its’ perception by the outside publics and effectively communicate various information to a wide range of the publics (Brown, 2009).
Lifeline Australia is an Australian Not-for-Profit organisation, which provides access to crisis support, suicide prevention and mental health support services through 24/7 phone and online support, as well as face-to-face sessions and accompanying media. Lifeline processes an average of 1400 calls per day and works with over 11,000 volunteers (Lifeline.org.au, 2013). The organisation utilizes such social media platforms as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube to communicate the messages to the publics. The vision of the organisation states “An Australia free of suicide”, therefore the consumer public is the primary receiver of the messages, as the purpose of the organisation reflects. As any organisation of such size, Lifeline Australia has a large number of employees and is seeking to employ new individuals; therefore interaction with the employee public is another important category, which helps support the primary goal of the organisation. Operation of Lifeline Australia also involves a large number of volunteers and donating individuals, as well as corporate engagement and sponsorships and government funding, therefore stakeholder, member publics, government publics and investor publics all need to be addressed (Brown, 2009). The purpose of use of social media by Lifeline Australia differs from one public to another, but for a Not-for-Profit organisation dealing with human beings, one of the two main purposes is to build a relationship with its consumer publics based on trust and awareness, and build a somewhat different kind of a relationship with all of its other publics, supporting the same notions of trust and awareness but in the field of organisation operation, its effectiveness and processes within the organisation, and not necessarily the more emotional relationship as with the consumer publics (Cornforth, 2003). The social media strategy of Lifeline Australia combines effective and real-time communication with its publics with providing accurate and up-to-date information, as well as using high-involvement content, such as video and photo (Facebook.com, 2013).
Lifeline Australia use social media tools to establish connections to current and popular events (such as sports), share and effectively create a network of dedicated Australian and international informational websites and pages for a number of issues the organisation is concerned with, encourage publics to engage in discussion on...
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