Public Relations (PR) is the field which helps today’s complex society to bridge diverse outlooks and build mutual understanding with the goal of quicker decision-making and effective functioning. PR is applied to a wide range of institutions such as corporate ions, trade unions, voluntary associations, government agencies, hospitals, schools, churches and colleges. PR is the practice through which these institutions create effective relationships with different publics or audiences such as employees, communities, shareholders, customers, and other institutions. My interest is in use of emerging technologies such as social media in media relation functions of PR. In recent years, institutions and political or business personalities have realized the value of social media in public relations (Wilson & Supa, 2013). This paper provides details on the guiding principles of PR and its role in society and reviews an article on the impact of Twitter on media relations function of PR.
Media relations is a major function of PR practitioners as well as journalists. It is loosely defined as the planned and mutually beneficial relationship existing between mass media journalists and practitioners in PR. This is because it is an area responsible for the development and spread of news that is relevant and important to the public. Without the media, it is almost impossible for an institution to deliver its message. The organization must also know how to make use of that medium. Today, technology plays a vital role in relaying information in PR. My interest in the media relations area of PR arises from the need to explore the boundless possibilities afforded by new technologies like social media in the practice. Social media has the potential to reach a wide audience and expeditiously so. One notable technology in this regard is Twitter. Twitter is an information-sharing website first and a social network second. My interest in the professional use of Twitter for media relations arises from the fact despite its vast potential; little research exists on this subject.
As a function of PR, media relation is especially important because of the role it plays in agenda-setting. Agenda setting comprises of the impact that the media has on the public. Practitioners make use of information subsidies to help them set the media agenda. This is important because the media agenda has a considerable impact on the public agenda. Information subsidies form the foundation for media relations. According to Wilson & Supa (2013), this consists of a triangle relationship between PR practitioners, mass media and the general public (audience). In this relationship, the mass media hold the power to influence the public and to act as gate-keepers by choosing and framing issues to be shared with the public. On the other hand, journalists utilize the information supplied by PR practitioners.
Wilson & Supa (2013) in their article, Examining Modern Media Relations, examine the relationship between PR practitioners and mass media journalists. This article is significant for practitioners because it elaborates how they can mend their cooperation with journalists. This is important for smooth dissemination of information to the relevant audience. Findings reviewed in the article suggest that journalists still perceive PR negatively for various reasons. Public relations practitioners view their role in media relations as being of equal value to that of journalists. PR practitioners participate in media relations with journalists on this belief. They see their role as being highly influential in news creation and believe that they influence the media agenda more than journalists do. Journalists perceive a general lack of credibility in the PR industry which may hamper smooth media relations. They sometimes also mistrust the power exerted by PR in information flow. The article reveals that this lack of trust is a hindrance to the success of media relations campaigns making it difficult for PR practitioners to influence the public agenda.
The second significance of this article is that it underlines the impact of media technology in media relations. These technologies are now viewed as the bridge between perceptions by journalists and practitioners. Technology greatly affects the flow and processing of information. “New Media” is a term widely used today in corporate as well as academic circles in communication. The internet has spurred on a shift in the way journalists and practitioners interact. Media relations processes like information subsidies are fast becoming outdated. Journalists are looking for relationships which are effective and durable. The article notes the influence of Twitter in different professions. Twitter acts as a channel for promotion and social connection. The article brings to the attention of practitioners the fact that journalists are using Twitter to create news and to transmit it to audiences worldwide. In addition, it presents evidence on how Twitter may be used by practitioners to interact with journalists and public audiences to develop mutually beneficial relationships.
The third significance of this article is that it highlights the shortage of academic research on how PR practitioners may use new media tools such as Twitter to develop and maintain practitioner-journalist relationships. This information is important because it challenges academic researchers to conduct inquiries in this area of study. Research will contribute to the application of Twitter in media relations as well as other public relations roles in the industry. My opinion is that the article provided a reliable picture on the usage of Twitter by PR practitioners the statistical methods used were satisfactory. This is because the proper sample size of 66 provided reliability and generalisability of data. However, the authors totally disregarded other social media platforms such as Facebook which may be in use by PR practitioners. This article is well-written and organized. It introduces the function of media relations and explains the context within which journalists and practitioners relate. This is important because it explains why journalists and practitioners should be reconciled in their perceptions of each other. In addition, the potential of social media to bridge this gap in perception is highlighted, with special mention of Twitter. The literature review section of the article succeeds by providing similar studies on various aspects of the research questions which may contribute to the discussion. This earns the authors credibility. I would recommend this article to PR practitioners, journalist and academic researchers in this field because it appears largely credible and well-supported through citations and empirical evidence. I would recommend practitioners to read this article because they are missing out on the potential of Twitter in media relations.
In today’s complex society, Public Relations (PR) helps bridge diverse outlooks and build mutual understanding with the goal of quicker decision-making and effective functioning. Media relations is a major function of PR practitioners as well as journalists. The article by Wilson & Supa investigates the extent to which PR practitioners and journalists are using Twitter in their different functions. The article is significant because it explains the potential of Twitter in PR and highlights the shortage of research into the role of social medial tools in media relations. It is well written, credible and provides reliable empirical evidence.
Wilson, D., & Supa, D. W. (2013). Examining Modern Media Relations: An Exploratory Study of the Effect of Twitter on the Public Relations –Journalist Relationship. Public Relations Journal, 7(3), 1-20.