Format: MS WORD | Chapter: 1-5 | Pages: 65-80 | Price NGN3,000
1.1 Background to the Study
The use of social media globally has gained an upward trend in the world of communication, with Twitter and Facebook as the most used platforms (Dunbar, Arnaboldi, Conti, & Passarella, 2015), and organizations have gained mileage by using it to communicate in a much more effective and fast way with their customers about their businesses as well as responding to queries and questions (Coombs & Holladay, 2010: 66; Carroll & Buchholtz, 2014:23), hence it is important to examine the impact they have on the public relations practice. Research has shown that organizations have taken up the use of social media as a communication tool for marketing and public relations messages (Ellison, Steinfield, & Lampe, 2007). Thus, the development of social media as communication platform has drawn numerous interests from researchers in the field of public relations. For example, prior study on the utilization of social media as a tool for organization’s public relations strategy has been undertaken (Briones et al., 2011).
Jefkins (1998, p.6) defines public relations as consisting of planned communication, outwards and inwards, between an organization and its publics for the purpose of achieving specific objectives concerning mutual understanding. Public relations practitioners have traditionally used “old media” to communicate to its publics but “new media”, a relatively new phenomenon, has gained currency as a tool to be used for communication in many organizations as technology is rapidly changing too.
According to Paul Gillin (2008), senior fellow, Society for New Communications Research, social media are giving rise to a new style of communications that is characterized by conversation and community. It is important to understand these new channels of communication in order to effectively utilize them as a means to communicate with the public as well as to know what implications they may have for the public relations practice. In order to implement these tactics effectively, it is equally important for journalism and public relations programs on college campuses to provide relevant curriculum for its future practitioners.
This present study attempts to increase the understanding of the impact of social media on the public relations practice through analyzing the existing body of knowledge. The study will also investigate the impact that social media has had on how public relations practitioners communicate and the modes of social media platforms that are used by public relations officers. In addition, the study will examine how the use of social media has enhanced the achievement of public relations objectives and the factors that determine the preference of social media tools employed in public relations practice, it will also determine the number of people that can be reached by public relations officers through social media. The outcome of this study is hence beneficial for future researchers in this area of research. It also benefits organizations and practitioners, because it demonstrates the importance of social media to the practice of public relations.
1.2 Statement of the Problem
The rise in the use of social media around the world has led to the introduction of social media into many public relations practices. It is unarguably true that this new form of communication is growing at an incredibly rapid pace, it is therefore important to analyze the impact that social and other new media have had on the overall public relations practice, as well as how universities are incorporating this new media into their curriculum. This study aims to examine how public relations practitioners are using social media; the impact and implications that this new media has had on the public relations profession, and how public relations professionals value these new media as a means to communicate with the public.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
(1) To investigate the impact that social media has had on how public relations practitioners communicate.
(2) To examine the modes of social media platforms that are used by public relations officers.
(3) To examine how the use of social media has enhanced the achievement of public relations objectives.
(4) To investigate the factors that determine the preference of social media tools employed in public relations practice.
(5) To determine the number of people that can be reached by public relations officers through social media.
1.4 Research Questions
(1) What impact has social media had on how public relations practitioners communicate?
(2) What are the modes of social media platforms used by public relations officers?
(3) How has the use of social media enhanced the achievement of public relations objectives?
(4) What factors determine the preference of social media tools employed in public relations practice?
(5) What number of people can be reached by public relations officers through social media?
1.5 Significance of the Study
This study will be of immense benefit to other researchers who intend to know more on this study and can also be used by non-researchers to build more on their research work. This study contributes to knowledge and could serve as a guide for other study.
1.6 Scope of the Study
This study is on the effect of social media on the practice of public relations. The research study will cover the entire staff of Osun State Broadcasting Corporation (OSBC), Osogbo, Osun State, Nigeria. All departments of the organization will be involved and both management and staff of the organization will be sampled in the collection of data for the study. The study will cover a fair balance of male and female employees of the company and cut across the entire staff of the organization, thus from junior staff to management staff.
1.7 Limitations of the study
The demanding schedule of respondents made it very difficult getting the respondents to participate in the survey. As a result, retrieving copies of questionnaire in timely fashion was very challenging. Also, the researcher is a student and therefore has limited time as well as resources in covering extensive literature available in conducting this research. Information provided by the researcher may not hold true for all research under this study but is restricted to the selected respondents used as a study in this research especially in the locality where this study is being conducted. Finally, the researcher is restricted only to the evidence provided by the participants in the research and therefore cannot determine the reliability and accuracy of the information provided. Other limitations include;
Financial constraint: Insufficient fund tends to impede the efficiency of the researcher in sourcing for the relevant materials, literature or information and in the process of data collection (internet, questionnaire and interview).
Time constraint: The researcher will simultaneously engage in this study with other academic work. This consequently will cut down on the time devoted for the research work.
1.8 Definition of Terms
Public: A group of persons with similar aspiration and ideas, interest and characteristics that is of importance to an organization.
Public Relations: Is the deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understandings between an organization and its public.
Relations: The way in which two people or group behaves towards each other or deal with one another.
Organization: A group of people who form a business together in order to achieve a particular aim or a group with a particular purpose.
Social Media: A group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010).
Social Skills: Any skills facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways through a process called socialization.
Cyberspace: This is the electronic medium of computer networks, in which online communication takes place.
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