User generated content is at the forefront of the media landscape; the pioneer for the digital change to public relations as we know it. UGC has flipped traditional PR on its head, and it has done it almost seemingly overnight. Freedom of speech, ease of access and quick communication have all allowed opportunity for ordinary people to be in control of information. Turning into stay-at-home-journalists who simply want to express their passion and opinions to the online world. The information channels created by such movements in the digital media landscape have opened up multiple different forms of communication (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many). Platforms such as blogs, online forums, free to write articles and most notably social media, has changed the entire landscape of online journalism. Simply the click of one button can allow for a piece of content to be shared thousands of times over; bringing a whole new meaning to instant and up to date news. The traditional one-way channel format, like that of a monologue, has changed to dialogue between two parties of interest. (e.g. Ekachai, 1999; Holtz, 1999) Though a development into a ‘web of dialogues’ is beneficial for a PR organisation, it is highly difficult to control and monitor. Having highlighted this, communication models such as the producer-driven transfer model has been supplemented by the receiver-driven semantic model (Littlejohn, 1999). PR is shifting away from traditional mass linear communication and through digitalisation dialogical and interactional communication are overtaking.
The snowballing progression of digital PR has allowed for a radical succession in analysis of data. Web pages and online content can be examined as well as consumer information, allowing for a wider understanding of target audiences. Furthermore surveys and questionnaires can be issued online to add depth to analysis even more; with chat rooms and 24 hour automated services being able to alleviate problems quickly and efficiently. The proficiency of online data analysis in the digital media landscape has allowed for PR practitioners to better learn the demand of clients, stakeholders and respective publics. Having this knowledge gives opportunity for better strategies and content creation. ‘Analysis, plan, action and evaluation’. (Witmer, 2000) Witmer states that these functions have been characterised as steps, even though their relationship is hardly linear.
Public relation organisations and practitioners are therefore forced to change their strategies and tactics. Bayer (1999) says that, ‘if companies doing business on the internet cant figure out what the web is, they may soon self-destruct.’ PR practitioners these days must translate traditional techniques of communication and contact building into the online. Basic PR essentials can be interpreted into digital PR, and are pivotal for successful campaigns.
Bayer, M. (1999) Website says too many people are operating without a clue. Public Relations Tactics [online]. [Accessed 18 April 2017].
Hurme, P. (2001) Online PR: emerging organisational practice. An International Journal [online]. 6 (2), pp. 71-75. [Accessed 17 April 2017].
Littlejohn, S. (1999) Theories of Human Communication. Wadsworth Belmont, CA [online]. [Accessed 18 April 2017].
Witmer, D. (2000) Spinning the Web. A Handbook for Public Relations on the Internet [online]. [Accessed 18 April 2017].