Public Relations in the Digital Age

We no longer live in the industrial era. You may already know the extent the media landscape transformed over the past several years, and continues to transform, thanks to growth in digital technology. As a result, we now live in the digital age, where we are constantly connected to the Internet, able to access the web wherever and whenever we desire. Not only are we individually impacted by this reality in our daily lives, but it also sparked a revolution in the business world.

According to a Fortune article by Gary Hamel, Polly LaBarre, Michele Zanini, businesses and organizations have operated in a “top-down” structure since the early 20th century. CEO and management have long held command authority over most decisions in business processes. In the digital age, this concept is old news and already rapidly changing. Many businesses began adopting “bottom-up” strategies, putting control in the hands of individual consumers to adjust to the ways multimedia platforms affect consumers.

The digital age is defined by a rise in participant culture, where content is user-generated and easily accessible through digital technology. According to Digital Buzz Blog, “57% of people talk to people more online than they do in real life.” These major media changes influence changes in the business realm. Many organizations are humanizing their structures by making efforts to encourage employee creativity and expand their influence in communities.

In this age of constant media exposure, how can public relations campaigns stand out? Public relations professionals need to set the pace in this continually evolving media landscape. If the practice of public relations is all about relationship building, we need to meet clients where they are: on social media, blogs, or other popular outlets. Social media creates opportunities to foster community between clients and their publics in a more relational way than ever before. The resulting continuous feedback loop made from these interactions can nurture two-way relationships, which is one of the main points of public relations.  Not only should public relations professionals have a firm presence on popular sites like Twitter and Facebook, but we need to reach diverse audiences on sites like Instagram, YouTube, and Google +.

You can start training now for effective public relations in the digital age by increasing your social media presence. I’m sure most of you are Facebook and Twitter savvy already, but if you do not have an Instagram or YouTube account, check it out and see how the content and users differ. The more you know about and understand social media and the other ways clients now interact with publics, the more valuable you will be in a future internship or job.

By: Brooke Lemunyon

Brooke is a junior mass communications major with advertising and English minors. In addition to PRSSA UD, she is also a leader in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship and a brother in Alpha Phi Omega. Follow Brooke on Twitter using @brookelemunyon.

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