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Social media: a powerful tool in public relations



Public relations students and practitioners are well aware that social media can significantly help organizations build their brands and manage their reputation. Social media platforms such as Instagram, TikTok, Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, are used by people all around the globe every single day. Social media usage statistics suggest that well over 9 in 10 of the world’s internet users now use social media each month. Additionally, seven social media platforms claim to have more than 1 billion monthly active users.


Social media offer organizations excellent channels to engage in direct dialogue with their stakeholders. Overall, these platforms facilitate communication between an organization and its publics. “The key here is permitting organizations to communicate directly with specific audiences without the aid of traditional news media,” said Donald K. Wright, a public relations professor at Boston University, as he referred to the importance of social media to the practice of public relations.


Along with the ability to interact with your audience more directly, social media also allows organizations to react to crises in a timelier manner. Accredited public relations practitioner John M. Janney, with over 20 years of experience in the field and currently acts as the principal consultant for Janney Public Relations, noted that with the help of social media, organizations can quickly post updates in response to a crisis and directly respond to comments or other online messages to reduce negative perceptions.


Janney also noted how valuable social media is to monitor the audience’s reaction to whatever it is you’re putting out, and act accordingly. “Before social media, there was no way for organizations to monitor the public's sentiment in real-time. That's a major development in the evolution of the practice because now the time element has been significantly compressed, pushing response times to be shorter and shorter to head off negative outcomes,” said Janney.


Although social media hasn’t changed the purpose of public relations and what it is all about, it certainly has added new tools which have opened new opportunities within the field. Social media will continue to evolve, and public relations will evolve right along with it.


By: Raquel Tadlock


Raquel is a third-year student at San Diego State University studying Journalism – Public Relations with a minor in International Studies. She is originally from Clovis in central California, but now resides in San Diego full time. She plans to graduate in Spring 2023 and pursue a career in Public Relations post-graduation.


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