A Study of Opportunities and Obstacles of Social Media Uses in Contemporary PR Practices: Call to Cautious Celebration of the Benefits of New Technologies

Ülfet Kutoğlu Kuruç 1 * , Baruck Opiyo 1 *

More Detail


This paper traces and documents the opportunities and potentials that social media offer PR practitioners while also highlighting peculiar challenges that such uses present to contemporary PR practitioners due, mainly – and paradoxically - to their widespread availability and usage by both PR and non PR actors. While proliferation of information, availability of modern technologies and availability of training of practitioners have greatly raised and shaped the profile of PR practice in recent decades, increase in the number of actors who are neither trained nor committed to the ethics of PR practice have posed special challenges and posed problems to the field. The mushrooming of technologies available to PR practitioners in the recent past prompts the need to rethink, re-evaluate, revisit with a view to re-assesing not only the promises that these advances bring to the practice but also the special problems that the new scenario may present to PR academics and practitioners alike. This is the exercise we attempt in this paper. There is no gainsaying the benefits of the largely direct and unfettered communication for the PR practitioners; immediate, democratic and participatory being just a few of them. However, in spite of their many benefits,, the uses of social media by PR practitioners is not free of drawbacks and threats, especially (but not solely) because of the scope they provide for abusive use. The same social networking and microblogging sites that have provided trained PR practitioners with platforms to conduct highly effective and ethical communication practices have similarly turned and empowered millions of people with smartphones and internet connection into an army of ‘Journalists’ & PR practitioners without formal training or commitment to ethical principles of communication; a scenario that provides much room for reckless and irresponsible usage of these platforms where everyone is free to speak “what’s on their mind.” An apt way to describe the resulting complications of PR practices under this milieu may be summed by the old adage attributed to American humorist, Mark Twain that, “A lie can travel halfway around the world while the truth is putting on its shoes.” Indeed, PR practitioners often find themselves resorting to fire-fighting and reactionary PR techniques in response to online uploads from a variety of unconventional sources. Thus, while conventional wisdom may readily celebrate the many virtues of social media for PR practitioners highlighting the way in which they lend themselves to two-way communication between the organization and its various publics, we caution that such assessment of social media use should be examined and understood in terms of both potential and inherent constraints and risks. The study uses critical and case studies approaches together with a survey method to argue the need to re-think and reasses our understanding of such benefits of social media without paying due attention to the challenges these developments pose to PR practitioners.



This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Article Type: Special Issue Paper

Online Journal of Communication and Media Technologies, Volume 7, Issue December 2017 - Special Issue, pp. 1-13

Published Online: 01 Dec 2017

Article Views: 451

Article Downloads: 228

Open Access References How to Cite This Article