Social Media and Public Relations


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.

Always #LikeAGirl – YouTube. 2015. Always #LikeAGirl – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [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: [Accessed 28 October 2015].

S. Seiple. How to Leverage Social Media For Public Relations Successes. 2015. . [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2015].

Nike – Possibilities (Advert.Ge) – YouTube. 2015. Nike – Possibilities (Advert.Ge) – YouTube. [ONLINE] Available at: [Accessed 28 October 2015]


One thought on “Social Media and Public Relations”

  1. Hi Billie!
    The examples you chose for this blog are great..they really show how companies are using social media to their advantage.


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