1. How Blogs and Social Media are Changing Public Relations and the Way it is Practiced explained the third study conducted about how new technologies are impacting public relations within companies (Wright & Hinson, 2008). Findings from the study indicate that public relations practitioners believe that blogging and other social media have changed communication within their organizations, especially with external communication (Wright & Hinson, 2008). Respondents also felt that these new technologies have enhanced the practice of public relations and believe that they compliment mainstream traditional media, as opposed to conflict with them (Wright & Hinson, 2008). Additionally, new technologies are seen as influential, instantaneous, and cost-effective, but results also showed that they are not accepted as much as traditional mainstream media in the areas of “accuracy, credibility, telling the truth and being ethical” (Wright & Hinson, 2008, pg. 18).
2/3. Blogs could have a potentially very large impact on public relations and corporate communications (Wright & Hinson, 2008). The Ragan Report stated that “employee blogs have ‘massive, almost unlimited potential to share knowledge, foster dialogue, market goods and services, and open up two-way channels of communication’.” (Wright & Hinson, 2008, pg. 4). Additionally, a study from Edelman Public Relations and Intelliseek indicated that blogging could empower employees tremendously, even comparing the potential of blogging to what labor unions did in the 19th and 20th centuries (Wright & Hinson, 2008).
Despite the huge potential blogs could have on business and public relations, not many businesses have jumped on this trend (Wright & Hinson, 2008). According to the article, only 20 of the Fortune 500 companies had been blogging in 2005 and only 54 (10.8%) by February 2008 (Wright & Hinson, 2008). The number grew from 2005 to 2008, but it still remains a small amount for how much potential blogging has shown (Wright & Hinson, 2008). According to jeffbullas.com, blogging amongst the Fortune 500 companies has not risen much from 2009 to 2010, but stood at 16% in 2008, 22% in 2009, and 23% in 2009 (2011). In an article called Blogging Across the Inc. 500 by David Strom, blogging amongst the Inc. 500 companies is dwindling and amongst the Fortune 500 companies, it has tapered with 22% in 2009 and staying at 23% of companies blogging in 2010 and 2011 (Strom, 2012). Perhaps this is due to the rise of other social media opportunities. Also within the Blogging Across the Inc. 500 article, Inc. 500 companies were asked what types of social media their companies were currently using. “Three-fourths of the companies are using LinkedIn and Facebook and social media tools are seen as important for company goals. Ninety percent of responding executives report that social media tools are important for brand awareness and company reputation. Eighty-eight percent see these tools as important for generating web traffic while 81% find them important for lead generation” (Strom, 2012). Additionally, Facebook and Twitter were reported to be the most used by the companies within the survey. Use of Facebook accounted for 61% of companies in 2009, 71% in 2010, and 74% in 2011 (Strom, 2012). Use of Twitter accounted for 52% of companies in 2009, 59% in 2010, and 64% in 2011 (Strom, 2012).
Employees are utilizing blogging for a variety of reasons, including: to become an expert, to test ideas, to personalize relationships, to publish their ideas, to build communities, to promote thought leadership, to get information to customers, and to get feedback from customers (Wright & Hinson, 2008). Companies vary their opinions on whether they feel employee blogging is good or bad, and some companies do not allow their employees to do so. “Many public relations people fear employee blogs because they ‘are reluctant to let go of the communication reigns’” (Wright & Hinson, 2008, pg. 5). However, other companies have recognized the potential with employee blogging and have embraced it because they can “develop meaningful relationships with customers” (Wright & Hinson, 2008, pg 5-6). And, ultimately having those strong relationships with customers could have a good impact on business, whatever the business might be.
4. I became a little lost when the authors were discussing some theories, such as the spiral of silence theory, the excellence theory, and the conceptual model. Some of the theories mentioned sounded familiar from my undergraduate communication studies, but I had to look into them a bit. I was also intrigued about the discussion of ethics on the part of the employees and the employers, especially if blogging (or use of social media) in regards to the organization is not done during work time, mainly if negative comments are made about the organization.
5. Discussion Questions for Class:
Can we discuss some of the theories mentioned within the article, such as the spiral of silence theory, the excellence theory, and the conceptual model?
Can we discuss employee (and employer) ethics in blogging and use of social media in regards to their organizations?
6. I thought this article was really interesting, especially as I considered ways social media has been helpful in my field. At a conference I attended over the summer for Residence Life, I went to a session about ways to utilize social media for professional development and networking. (I will admit that I have not yet tried this, but a co-worker of mine is really into it and I can see myself doing it in the future, especially as I hope to stay connected with work colleagues as we move onto other institutions after completing our Masters.) Student Affairs (both nationally and within the state) have twitter discussions on a regular basis, every Wednesday, in which you can be a part of whenever you would like. Topics of discussion are requested the day or two before and then one is selected, I believe by the mediator of the conversation, and on Wednesdays anyone who would like can be involved in the discussion to provide input and ask questions. This is something I would really like to do once I am working full-time again because I find it very beneficial to learn from people at various institutions. It is like attending a work conference, but no travel required and more cost effective.
While thinking about other areas of colleges, I considered Admissions (and Athletics too I believe) as many Admissions departments are utilizing student blogs and other social media to communicate with potential students. Interested students can develop rapports with current students and learn so much about a school before even coming for an actual visit to campus. And, if they do decide to visit, they already have that personal connection to the school. For example, if looking into Rider for undergraduate admissions, you can follow Undergraduate Admissions on Facebook and Twitter.
In general, this class does have me thinking about how new technologies could be beneficial to me in my work and to my organization on a larger scale. Some we have embraced or could embrace pretty easily, such as utilizing recorded presentations (like on youtube.com) for training purposes. For the past couple years, we have put together training videos to kick off our week of training in an entertaining way. Here is one to check out. (I apologize that my performances are pretty awful.):
Wright, D. & Hinson, M. (2008). How blogs and social media are changing public relations and the way it is practiced. Public Relations Journal.