Social Media Changing PR

By Samuel Harakal

One thing that concerns me about being a future public relations practitioner is the advent of public broadcasting by individuals. It can take the form of youtube videos, social media such as facebook or twitter, and a variety of other mediums. I’ve learned through my Public Relations education so far that part of a having a good Public Relations practice is crisis preparation.

With the advent of public broadcasting from so many sources, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to manage a crisis when the event is already being covered by people all over the globe via youtube and other social media.

An example, a tragic one, but an example none-the-less that our Penn State community could relate to would be the coverage of the recent death of Joe Dado. Think about it. That is a full blown P.R. crisis for Penn State.

An intoxicated student in the number one party school in America dies after partying at a couple fraternities equals VERY UNPLEASANT P.R.

This information was blown wide open via social media as soon as the body was found. Students text other students. Some of them put it on facebook and twitter. Others see the message and continue to pass it on. The information spreads like wildfire due to our mass communication resources.

I guess what I am driving at here is how are P.R. practitioners supposed to be able to control information and maintain the legitimacy of the messages they need to deliver in times of crisis such as a death of Dado? How do we minimize crisis damage with people gathering information from everywhere not knowing exactly what to believe?

Dado is one example of many hypothetical scenarios. Whether it’s a P.R. division within a company or a P.R. firm, crisis will happen and they need to be managed. I am not exactly sure what Public Relations practices should be doing to make their message stand out and gain control of a crisis happening. If anyone has any suggestions feel free to let me know.

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