It is widely understood that public relations focuses on the relationships of audiences with respective organisations. However when put into practice ‘Despite the many sectors and specialisms that public relations has, it can all be agreed that PR is basically the discipline of exchanging information.’ As Danielle Nuttall states, communication is essentially the cornerstone of PR; exchanging information from one party to another, or in this case the public. PR representatives and practitioners foundation their work on the actions and reactions of the public, and in a time where the world is centred around a digital age, the landscape of social media is a very welcoming platform for the industry.
The growing prevalence of digital media has comprehensively reshaped the public relations landscape over recent years, allowing practitioners the opportunity to communicate with publics over the internet and in turn creating an online community and a virtual society, almost separate to the real world. This development opens up a much easier way for organisations to understand their respective publics, through the connection of digital media, a two way channel of communication is created; allowing for an exchange of information resulting in positives for PR sectors. ‘A thread on a consumer forum can quickly become headline news and as such, PR professionals need to have an understanding of how a brands reputation online and offline are intrinsically linked.’ Tom Malcolm. The creation of online and offline societies and their relationship with each other is imperative in an organisations reputation in modern PR. Furthermore social media as a platform for exchanging information, has had a massive effect on media organisations, who are always searching for engaging and appealing content to increase traffic to their respective websites and to strengthen their relationships with the public. Tom Malcolm goes onto say, ‘To feed the media’s growing appetite for engaging content, successful PR campaigns are now increasingly reliant on their ability to create engaging content that people want to share and talk about online.’ As a result of this movement, PR agencies are more inclined to focus on a digital marketing mix; ad campaigns and marketing campaigns all with a digital bedrock.
Organisations such as Epiphany are forced to interlink their creative sectors with online PR and SEO teams ‘to create content to fulfil strategic search objectives, drive online visibility and build brand engagement through social media channels.’ Andy Heaps (Operations Director). Social media and PR are ever growing synonymous with each other. Digital media mirrors the engagement and two way communication that PR has always been about. Gone are the days of traditional journalism being the publics source for information; social media and the freedom of speech as a result, has given the public the opportunity to be the journalists themselves. The digital media landscape has massively increased the speed at which communication takes place, between one organisation and the public. Companies can revise into a wider, more intrinsic and much more specific set of information available to them. Emphasising the importance and the overall adaptation that PR has undergone as a result of digital media.
Heaps, A. (2012) The Impact of Social Media on Public Relations. Operations Director, Epiphany [online]. [Accessed 15 April 2017].
Malcolm, T.H. (2012) The Impact of Social Media on Public Relations. Head of Consumer, Diffusion [online]. [Accessed 15 April 2017].
Nuttall, D. (2014) How public relations is adapting to the digital media landscape. WordPress [online]. [Accessed 14 April 2017].