Social Media: A Game Changer for Public Relations

Social media is becoming a bigger part of our world every day. From daily communication to large company promotion, social media is an ever-changing medium that most people rely on for information. To learn more about how public relations practitioners and companies are dealing with the impact that social media is making, I read an academic journal article this week for my public relations class. I chose the following article:

DiStaso, M., McCorkindale, T., & Wright, D.K., (2011). How public relations executives perceive and measure the impact of social media in their organizations. Public Relations Review, 37(3), 235-328.

For the article, 25 interviews were held with public relations executives about the challenges and questions they face in the social media world. The public relations executives were also asked questions about the opportunities they saw in social media for their companies.

The group being interviewed included 12 members of the Board of Trustees and four current participants in the Future Leaders Program of the Arthur W. Page Society and nine members of the Board of the Institute of Public Relations – many of whom held positions with Fortune 500 companies.

The public relations executives were asked questions ranging from what opportunities they saw in social media for their companies.

Results

You must communicate effectively with your stakeholders, and to do this you have to go where they are. This is why it is important for companies to be involved in the communications happening about them in social media.

The most common challenge is understanding and accepting the lack of control in social media. People are unpredictable beings, and because of that, companies have to be aware of both internal and external threats dealing with social media.

Understanding how to properly use social media is imperative. To be able to use social  media strategically, those in charge must understand how to effectively communicate using different channels.

Staying up to date with the ever-changing platform that is social media is difficult. Older employees were less familiar with the medium, and many teams had to be taught on the go while social media evolves.

How public relations professionals are going to deal with the findings will change from company to company. Many will be concerned with how to train their staff, and others will want to properly invest time and money into resources for social media. As a whole, they all felt that it was essential to uncover and understand how to measure their successes on social media. To do this, they have to recognize what is actually substantial rather than reacting to everything that is put online.

From the study it can be determined that the public relations executives are aware of how important social media is going to be to the success of their companies. By using social media, organizations can engage with their customers and increase the understanding of both their market and their competitors.