The Impact of the Changing Landscape of Public Relations

The world of Public Relations has evolved immensely over the last few years and it is set to continue to change, well into the future. It is affected by mediums such as global communications, a shrinking market place and wider demographics. The rise of social media gives everyone and every brand the power to become a publisher.  Giving small organisation the opportunity to manifest their own stories and gain exposure, without the aid of public relations practitioners. Technological, economical and geological changes also mean that the public relations sector is in a constant state of flux (Skelly, 2014). These factors definitely impact upon the landscape of public relations, but also raise new and exciting opportunities. In order for public relations practitioners to ensure their practices are still utilised within the new pr landscape, they need to adapt quickly to these new changes.

Despite the obvious changes within the public relations sector, pr practitioners still need to rely on theories to base their work on. Before the rise of social media, however, these theories were a lot more relevant to the field, pr practitioners relied heavily on disseminating information to the mass through messages and mediums. This way of operating is no longer as effective, despite there still being a need to communicate and manage relationships. Pr practitioners now need rely on creating two-way communication schemes, focusing primarily on creating a relationship that fosters for its publics (Porter, 2010). I definitely believe that although there is an obvious change in the way in which pr practitioners operate, the preexisting theories still have a lot of relevance to pr today. Practitioners still need to utilise these theories in their work, but they also need to adapt to the new pr landscape, but analysing and reacting to how social media is transforming the sector.

One of the biggest changes within the pr landscape is the fact that the audience now has an alarming influence on how organisations operate. The audience now has a prominent voice, that has the power to change how an organisation is perceived on a large scale. This new found power ignites consumers, as their opinions of organisations are now recognised. This can be an extremely positive thing for organisations, but it can also be extremely detrimental to their image.

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An example of this occurred when the supermarket giant Coles, released a twitter competition, in an attempt to generate a conversation (Cook, 2012). The competition backfired and exposed the company to a whirlwind of negative comments from consumers. The competition urged costumers to complete the sentence “in my house it is not a crime to buy…” The supermarket was inundated with negative comments. Comments such as; “Food from markets while Coles exploits mental illness via pokies”, “In my house its a crime not to buy LOCALLY- and I don’t mean from a @coles supermarket” and “In my house it’s a crime not to buy… BREAD AND MILK AT PRICES THAT ALLOW PRIMARY PRODUCES TO SURVIVE!”. This exemplifies just how much power consumers have.

Before the rise of social media, publics were obviously entitled to voice their opinions on organisations, but these opinions more often then not went unnoticed. Now consumers have an enormous amount of power to voice their opinions. This means that companies need to be extremely wary of how their messages may be perceived, they also need to implement strategies and plans to resolve any crisis or issue that may result from a campaign released on social media.

Additionally, the measurement of the results of pr practices is changing. Data collection is an imperative tool to ensuring the success of a campaign, whether it is qualitative or quantitative. According to Rebekah Iliff, the Chief Strategy Officer for AirPR, companies who use data collection within their business are the most successful (Iliff, 2014). Companies still need rely on data to understand and predict what their publics needs and wants are. While the changes in public relations may seem overwhelming, I think they will only strengthen and improve the sector. Social media has influenced the way in which many sectors operate, for better and for worse. Practitioners need to evolve with the new media, but still incorporate traditional public relations theories into their practice.

Reference List:

Coles Twitter campaign goes down, down gurgler. 2015. Coles Twitter campaign goes down, down gurgler. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.smh.com.au/business/coles-twitter-campaign-goes-down-down-gurgler-20120306-1uj4c.html. [Accessed 04 November 2015].

Change or die: The future of PR – Public Relations Institute of Australia. 2015. Change or die: The future of PR – Public Relations Institute of Australia. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.pria.com.au/priablog/change-or-die-the-future-of-pr. [Accessed 04 November 2015].

How Is PR Changing? – Journalistics. 2015. How Is PR Changing? – Journalistics. [ONLINE] Available at:http://blog.journalistics.com/2010/how-is-pr-changing/. [Accessed 04 November 2015].

7 Big Changes in the PR Landscape Every Business Should Know About. 2015. 7 Big Changes in the PR Landscape Every Business Should Know About. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.entrepreneur.com/article/237402. [Accessed 04 November 2015].

Social Media and Public Relations

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Social media has dramatically changed the way in which public relation practitioners communicate with their publics. Some may argue that the introduction of the Internet; has made it more difficult for public relations to operate effectively, while others insist that despite various challenges it has created, it provides an enormous amount of new possibilities and opportunities for organisations.

I have no doubt that the Internet and social media has made it easier for businesses to communicate with their publics. Social-media supports user interaction and collaboration, which means businesses are able to have two-way conversations and symmetric relationships with their publics. Prior to the introduction of social media, public relations organisations relied very much on one-way communications strategies. This meant that the relationship’s formed between an organisation and its publics were often asymmetric ones, which focused primarily on distributing information. The interactivity of social media has allowed for public relations practitioners to respond to the needs and wants of publics and act accordingly and are able to provide something of value for users to support engagement.

An example of a highly effective public relations strategy was the Nike Possibilities campaign. The campaign encompassed elements of its already highly regarded Nike ‘Just Do It’ campaign, but used social media to strengthen and entice its publics to engage with the company.

The campaign video promoting ‘Possibilities’ is intended to inspire its audience to push themselves to their limits and reach new goals, through a variety of playful scenarios that feature an all star cast of athletes and guest stars. Additionally, ‘Possibilities’ seeks to inspire its viewers to physically take part in challenges presented in the advertisement, using the Nike+ app.

The two-way symmetric strategy relates to the ‘Possibilities’ campaign. It is a two-way communication that is purely focused on achieving mutual understanding and is based on relationship building. The ‘Possibilities’ campaign aims at building a strong, genuine and supportive relationship with its consumers. The digital service of ‘Possibilities’ depicts the shift away from traditional marketing approaches towards new innovative ways of communicating with customers. Many organisations, similarly to Nike use social media to offer their costumers something for free, however through this interaction between the consumer and the company, the publics are being sent subliminal messages, that in turn encourage them to financially invest in the company. Social media is a great way for organisations to promote themselves, without making it seem like they have their own personal agenda.

Although I believe social media has had a positive effect on public relations, I certainly think the way in which it operates is very dependent on the certain organisation that use it as a means of communication. Organisational approaches to social media are context dependent. The organisations missions goals, objectives, industry profile and key target publics and stakeholders must be considered (Johnston, 2015). For example, a government agency needs to and do approach social media communication in a very different way to a high-profile retail line.

Platforms such as Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook and Twitter are predominately utilised by retail companies to disseminate information to their publics. These media platforms allow for organisations to reach millions of people within an extremely short period of time. Government agencies also utilize social media platforms, Twitter is used to circulate information about new policies and news to its publics.

Theory and Practice, Public Relations explores the relationship between Social Media and Public Relations. It delves into the impacts of social media on the functioning of effective public relations practice and exemplifies the importance evolving and adapting with the fast and ever changing new platforms. I have discovered that the power of social media has enhanced public’s influence on organisations, as they are able to provide feedback, engage in discussion and share and comment on news provided by the organisation. The chapter has taught me about the uncertainty of social media and how organisations need to be prepared to combat negative feedback from publics and stakeholders. It has also illustrated the vast range of social media platforms that are utilized by PR practitioners and how they operate. These include, Youtube, LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest and Flickr.

Here is another brilliant example of public relations coinciding with social media. This Youtube video was released to empower women, by discourage them to believe that doing activities ‘Like a Girl’ is a negative thing. The organisation encouraged viewers to promote the message by hash tagging #LIKEAGIRL on different forms of social media. The video received an alarming 53 million views during the World Cup in 2014.  http://always.com/en-us/about-us/our-epic-battle-like-a-girl

Always #LikeAGirl – YouTube. 2015. Always #LikeAGirl – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs. [Accessed 28 October 2015

J. Johnston, M. Sheehan, 2014. Theory and Practice Public Relations. NSW, Australia.

The 30 Most Brilliant Social Media Campaigns of the Last Half of 2014 – Salesforce Blog. 2015. The 30 Most Brilliant Social Media Campaigns of the Last Half of 2014 – Salesforce Blog. [ONLINE] Available at:https://www.salesforce.com/blog/2014/12/the-30-most-brilliant-social-media-campaigns-of-the-last-half-of-2014-152015.html. [Accessed 28 October 2015].

S. Seiple. How to Leverage Social Media For Public Relations Successes. 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: http://cdn2.hubspot.net/hub/53/file-13204195-pdf/docs/hubspot_social_media_pr_ebook.pdf. [Accessed 28 October 2015].

Nike – Possibilities (Advert.Ge) – YouTube. 2015. Nike – Possibilities (Advert.Ge) – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R5i3Cb0R86U. [Accessed 28 October 2015]

Government and Political Public Relations

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Public relations is often criticised for dictating and manipulating the role of a democracy, as it can be suggested that it endorses secrecy and manipulation within political parties. However, without public relations government discussion and debate cannot be projected through mass and social media, to connect with the public. Therefore without public relations, a democracy is unable to function effectively. There are four main areas in which public relations intersects with a democratic government. These four areas include:

  • Media management, from government minders to pursue political objectives
  • Promotion by government information officers to pursue public objectives
  • Lobbying by corporations and interest groups to affect government policy
  • The use of campaign techniques in the elections required to form governments (Johnston, 2014).

Governments utilise public relations techniques, in modern society, to strategically manage their interactions with the mass media, to gain support for government policies from citizens, to ensure that they will be re-elected in the next election. Media minders are in control of providing citizens with information about certain government parties. Media minders job description involves looking after their minister’s political wellbeing within the media on a regular basis (Johnston, 2014).

Public relations practises are also used to influence the outcome of in house government decisions. Lobbying also utilises public relations practices to assist a government’s ability to pursue certain goals. Lobbyists are in charge of organising complex campaigns to strengthen their client’s popularity.

Election campaigns often embody characteristics of the mass-marketing organisational theory, such as strategic game play and psychology, to ensure a successful and persuasive portrayal of government leaders. Campaign directors are involved with organising advertising, direct mail, speeches, social networking and viral marketing, to enable the government to elicit a positive and reliable image to its potential voters (Johnston, 2014).

To ensure political parties produce a strong and successful campaign, complex research strategies need to be implemented. These research strategies enable government agencies to understand their audience and to evaluate the impact of their campaigns. Research involves measuring the electorate’s quantitative and qualitative responses to their campaigns. The role of campaign research is to set the direction of future campaigns.

Here is an example of a successful government campaign that was released in February this year. The South Australian government noticed that an alarming number of fatalities on the roads were occurring in regional areas. This prompted them to join forces with the Motor Accident Commission and create a campaign that would deter people who live in regional areas from practicing dangerous driving habits, like drink driving and speeding. An enormous amount of research went into creating the campaigns, to ensure that the message would make a lasting impact on its target publics. Public Relations practitioners went to regional areas and asked what their most important values were, the main consensus was mateship. This influenced the government to create a campaign that showed people who live in regional areas promoting safe driving, through friendship.

“We want to encourage mates to speak up when they see another mate about to make a bad driving decision by giving them some examples of how they can do that.” (MAC, 2015)

Successful political campaigns aim to build a positive image of their candidate to appeal to targeted voters. Positioning candidates effectively is possible when the campaign is spun in a particular way, for example spinning involves constant repetition, refinement and redevelopment of a candidate position.

With the rise of social media, direct personal contact is often overlooked as a campaign strategy. However, personal contact is a fundamental way to establish a strong relationship with voters. Candidate’s most effective way of communicating, is on a micro level, for example being a spokes person for local issues, door knocking the electorate, speaking to community organisations and local opinion leaders. To ensure support from potential voter’s candidates need to maximise every opportunity to physically interact and meet voters to personally communicate the campaigns message and intention. It is suggested that John Howard’s success in 2007 was a result of his direct contact with the public. Howard was perceived to have an extensive insight into local issues and to have a strong network of connections within the community (Johnston, 2014).

The readings this week made me think more about public relations theory and practice because prior to reading them, I had little knowledge about how much PR practices were used in the government sector. I now understand the main areas in which PR intersects with the government and how they operate. I also now aware of just how much strategic pr planning goes into supporting political parties or specific leaders. Public relations is a  perfect way for leaders to communicate and engage with the public. Research is also just as important within the government public relations sector, as it is with any other pr sector, because it allows parties to find out information about potential voters, to ensure that they are catering for their needs.

J. Johnston, M. Sheehan, 2014. Theory and Practice Public Relations. NSW, Australia.

Road safety campaign to Keep the Bromance Alive | MAC. 2015. Road safety campaign to Keep the Bromance Alive | MAC. [ONLINE] Available at:http://www.mac.sa.gov.au/news/road-safety-campaign-to-keep-the-bromance-alive. [Accessed 27 October 2015].

Keep the Bromance Alive • Motor Accident Commission Ad 2015 • Trailer HD – YouTube. 2015. Keep the Bromance Alive • Motor Accident Commission Ad 2015 • Trailer HD – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cSFAVDnnPVk. [Accessed 27 October 2015

Corporate Public Relations and Investor Relations

This week I am focusing on corporate public relations, focusing primarily on ethics and how they operate within the corporate sector.

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Corporate public relations principles apply to organisations regardless of their size or purpose. While corporate and financial public relations practitioners share comparable characteristics to more generic public relations roles, they do offer more specialised features, such as the legal disclosure of information to the ASX. Corporate public relations is comprised of four main principles;

-Relationships
-Research
– Respect
-Responsibility

These principles enable corporate public relations to communicate and operate affectively and ethically within each organisation.

Effective corporate public relations strategies ensure that a company or organisation is able to adequately communicate financial and corporate information to a diverse range of publics (Johnston, 2014). It is also a contributing factor towards a company’s reputation. Corporate public relations also relates to non-for-profit organisations, including, hospitals, charities and community organisations that rely on financial support from other businesses, in order to provide a high quality of service to its publics.

Richard Branson, the founder of the multi-million dollar airplane company, Virgin, exemplifies the importance of corporate public relations, to the success of organisations.

“The head of PR is perhaps one of the most important people in a company and a good chairman will have them by their side. They are critical for managing the brand and save millions in advertising. People talking about your company is much more important than anything.” (Comcowich, 2015).

Branson has a reputation for being the master of Public Relations and his successes are largely to do with his focus on strengthening his companies prosperity.

Corporate and financial public relations plays an imperative role in ensuring the ethical functioning of corporate firms. Financial public relations refers to a range of communication strategies and activities that are undertaken by financial entities. It is important for corporate public relations practitioners to build investor confidence and sustainable relationships within the financial community, to ensure that their publics are aware and have confidence in the companies corporate reputation. If a company has a good reputation, it will attract investors and other companies who are looking to integrate.

These corporate and financial public relations functions, include, analysis and reporting, corporate sponsorship, financial media relations, institutional investors, public affairs and retail shareholder relations. Shareholders and investors in companies expect to see financial returns on their investments.

Corporate communication is extremely important as its role is to maintain favourable reputations and relationships with the stakeholders, in which an organisations relies on for financial support.

Corporate public relations main role is to acknowledge and address the interests of the whole organisation. Their role is to attend to the corporate culture, corporate social responsiveness, the reputation of the organisation, maintaining a positive corporate identity, communicating with the key decision makers of the company and managing positive attitude towards stakeholder engagement. Research, respect and responsibility are key characteristics that ensure corporate communication is functioning effectively within an organisation. Research is an essential tool, as it provides practitioners with the opportunity to gain knowledge about what factors may influence a company’s reputation and it’s share price. Respect in the corporate sector is important as it fosters a positive and strong relationship with organisations stakeholders. Finally responsibility refers to the responsibilities a corporation has to provide its publics, both internal and external.

The key messages from this weeks reading demonstrated the importance of in house corporate public relations and explained the way in which it functions within an organisation. The chapter also explained how financial public relations operates and the importance of maintaining a strong corporate relations body within an organisation, that is able to provide stakeholders and public with new information.

The readings made me think more about public relations theory and practice, as I had never really thought about the financial or corporate aspects of the sector. I always assumed it focused primarily on communicating to publics and stakeholders, through language and creative campaigns.

J. Johnston, M. Sheehan, 2014. Theory and Practice Public Relations. NSW, Australia.

W. Comcowich. Public Relations Lessons from Richard Branson, the PR Master. 2015.Public Relations Lessons from Richard Branson, the PR Master. [ONLINE] Available at: http://www.cyberalert.com/blog/index.php/public-relations-lessons-from-richard-branson-the-pr-master/. [Accessed 27 October 2015].

http://www.cyberalert.com/blog/index.php/public-relations-lessons-from-richard-branson-the-pr-master/