Social Media and PR Practice (Part 4): Beyond the critical reflection

Social Media and PR Practice (Part 4): Beyond the critical reflection

In our last three posts (see previous posts), we have highlighted some of the celebrated advantages of social media to public relations or PR practice and discussed Valentini’s criticism of these advantages. However, in this post, we’ll attempt to balance the argument by pinpointing a few absolute benefits of social media to PR practice.  

Lest I appear as someone totally biased about the “goodness” of social media in PR practice, here are two advantages that seem concrete. 

Social media allows for a faster and cheaper transfer of information to an organisation’s publics. Formerly, it would have taken a more protracted and more expensive process to get information across to consumers. However, with social media and other platforms on the internet, it has become less strenuous. Many times, one is not required to pay, except in the case of advert placement.

Final thoughts and Implications for PR Practice

The point, though, is that speed and fewer expenses do not always imply effectiveness. The power is once again in the consumer’s hands to determine if the relationship would be beneficial. If it is, then a relationship is formed and easily maintained; communication becomes fast, continuous and cheap. After which, one can indeed say that social media is, in this instance, “good” for PR practice.

Realistically, my advice to PR practitioners is that they should not focus all their strategies and tactics on social media, believing that it has no adverse effects. Because although technology makes life a little easier, it does not have the solution to all of life’s problems.

Therefore, technology, in the form of social media, has been made available. Still, like every other technology, there are no clear cut distinctions on whether it is purely advantageous or not. Social media does offer opportunities that should be explored in the field of PR. Nevertheless, one must be aware of its limitations to adequately utilise its strengths and minimise false expectations. 

Thoughts of a PR guru

The role of public relations transcends technology,” said Harold Burson, founder of the largest PR agency in the world. “No new invention or methodology can ever change the basic human characteristic of communicating ideas with the basic purpose of influencing agreement or support or otherwise.” 


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