The impact of new media on public relation Defining new and emerging media
New media is becoming the preferred term for a range of media practices that employ digital technologies and the computer in some way or another (Dewdney & Ride, 2006). It is used as a term in educational settings as the title of university departments and courses and also as a title of certain artistic practices, making new media both an academic and intellectual subject, and a practice (Dewdney & Ride, 2006). New media definitions remain fluid and are evolving, with some definitions of new media focusing exclusively upon computer technologies and digital content production whilst others stress the cultural forms and contexts in which technologies are used (Dewdney & Ride, 2006). One key feature of new and emerging media technologies is that they are often portable and facilitate mobility in communications. New media has a wider reach that anything before it (Lindgren cited in Galloway, 2005). Wireless and digital technological improvements to media have lifted previous restrictions that required connecting to a static, physical network or machine. A recent report (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005) put forward that digital content and applications in the twenty-first century will be as significant and as embedded in economic well-being as was electronic power in the twentieth century. The report states that like information and communications technology generally, digital content and applications have the characteristics of a ‘general purpose technology’ (Commonwealth of Australia, 2005, p.3). When examining cultural forms and contexts in which these new technologies are used, what is striking is the fact that new media potentially makes people technically more accessible for more of the time: in the car, out shopping, in the office, at work, at home and when socializing. New media are enabling content delivery on demand by consumers, the so-called pull media. Examples of this media include Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds that allow favourite news and information updates to be delivered to a consumer as soon as they are posted online without consumers having to search for the content. Only nine percent of major companies surveyed by Alfonso and de Valbuena Miguel (2006) had RSS feeds. Pull media also include: email news and information subscriptions that enable consumers to sign-up for regular updates of news or subjects of interest; podcasting that allows for online delivery of audio programs, VOD casting that allows for online delivery of visual programming, and digital television that allows consumers to customize their viewing. These new and emerging media are facilitating person-to-person or person to- persons communications through the availability of email, text messaging through SMS, multimedia messaging through MMS, instant messaging and chat online, online forums and blogging. New media are enabling electronic commerce related to media through pay per view, pay by time spent and pay by subscription, where one can pay by credit card, direct deposit or even SMS credits. New media are changing service provision in areas as diverse as dating, delivery of higher education courses and how people do their banking. Advertising is becoming increasingly sophisticated with the advent of new media and it is not uncommon for mainstream advertisers to have their new ads on a website like YouTube, for example, the Australian big beer advertisement produced for Carlton Draft beer. There are often spoof responses to the mainstream advertisements which, it could be argued, augment the impact or reach of the original campaign. There are now online games designed to promote products and services, in what has been called ‘advergaming’ (Bradshaw, cited in Galloway, 2005). Hiebert (2005) stated that we could be witnessing a revitalization of civil society through a return to participation in the public sphere....
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