Vol 11 No 1 - 2010

Editorial Note ­ Guest Editor Gyneth Howell

Social media and its implications for viral marketing - Rohan Miller and Natalie Lammas

Social networks and the challenge for public relations - Ashleigh McLennan and Gwyneth V.J. Howell

Public relations and the social: how practitioners are using, or abusing, social media - Jim Macnamara

Public relations, education, and social media: issues for professionalism in the digital age - Deirdre Quinn-Allan

'There's formaldehyde in my water': absurd discourse about the Sydney desalination project - a case study - Brendan Elliott

Advergames, their use and potential regulation - Grish Purswani

Australian book publishing and the internet: How two Australian book publishing companies are using the Internet to engage with customers - Cathryn Isakson

 


Editorial Note

In 2010 social media has demonstrated its power as a communication tool; we knew through Twitter that Australia had its first female Prime Minister, thanks to the fast fingers of various MPs sitting in the Caucus Room. How we as public relations academics and practitioners address this new sphere of communication is open to debate.

This range of challenges is explored in all four refereed papers, each addressing different aspects of this new domain.  Miller and Lammas explore tradition WOM and how effective new strategies are in 2010 in terms of product promotion. McLennan and Howell discuss the uses and effectiveness of social networking sites for public relations practitioners and the challenges these sites also present in terms of communication with key publics. While Macnamara reviews contemporary literature in relation to social media and social networks as well as recent case studies to identify their key characteristics, potentialities, and uses, and report findings of a survey and interviews with senior public relations practitioners in Australia investigating their views and practices in social media. Quinn-Allan discusses the options and opportunities of integrating social media into public relations courses while being mindful of the ethical implications that are present in such activity.

In addition, there are three unrefereed papers, the first is a case study focusing on Sydney Water, the second a review of advergames and how this new tool is being used in the social media realm. Our third paper is from public relations postgraduate student, Cathryn Isakson, who concentrates on how publishers are taking advantage of the internet through virtual and online communities.

As well as public relations academics the APPRJ welcomes contributions from practitioners and postgraduate and undergraduate students in public relations.

This is the online edition of the Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal will now occur on an annual basis each Winter.

Dr Gwyneth V.J. Howell
Guest Editor

Mark Sheehan
Editor


Social media and its implications for viral marketing

Rohan Miller

The University of Sydney

and

Natalie Lammas

The University of Sydney

Social media presents potentially seductive opportunities for new forms of communication and commerce between marketers and consumers. As advertisers typically want to find some way to follow their target audiences, many new media opportunities are presented to advertisers. However, we are still social media pioneers. While the boom in social marketing appears persuasive with an estimated 70% of consumers visiting a social website for information, other research points out that 90% of WOM conversations still occur face to face or by phone, and only 7 percent occurs online. In contrast to traditional advertising media such as television, there are measurement and consumer behaviour modelling issues that will need to be addressed before marketers that measure and manage their media investments will be able to fully embrace the opportunities and navigate the risks presented by social media. Ultimately, advertisers will be forced beyond the "old-school" approaches to adopt many of the principles and techniques of relationship marketing in order to effectively use social media and likely the multiple niche co-creation of products and services.

Download 'Social media and its implications for viral marketing' article


Social networks and the challenge for public relations

Ashleigh McLennan

The University of Western Sydney

and

Gwyneth V.J. Howell

The University of Western Sydney

The Web is an increasingly important component of public relations. Organisations use Web sites to build relationships with key publics, and they can provide a variety of organisational information and services to a diverse group of stakeholders. The Web enables publics to be active and selective in their exposure to marketing, advertising and public relations messages. For public relations practitioners to act effectively on behalf of organisations, they must monitor and track both traditional and new media sources for potential issues, and respond to accordingly. This digital revolution has provided public relations practitioners with a new communication challenge: social networking sites. This paper explores this challenge for public relations practice in 2010.

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Public relations and the social: how practitioners are using, or abusing, social media

Jim Macnamara

University of Technology, Sydney

Widespread discussion of interactive social media and social networks enabled by what is termed Web 2.0 has led to discussion of 'PR 2.0' denoting the potential for these new forms of media and public spaces to realise the two-way symmetrical model of communication recommended in Excellence Theory of public relations, but hitherto regarded as normative and impractical by some scholars, or to reconceptualise public relations in some significant way. However, despite considerable excitement surrounding the potential of interactive social media, there is a lack of empirical data on the ways in which public relations practitioners are utilising these media and how they are influencing or changing PR practice. A number of reported case studies suggest that there are grounds for concern that some organisations are attempting to engage in public communication in the Web 2.0 environment using oneway information transmission and a control paradigm of communication characteristic of mass media and Web 1.0. Furthermore, case studies show that, in some instances, inappropriate and unethical practices are being adopted in social media and social networks. On the other hand, there are case studies of some organisations engaging in new productive ways with their stakeholders using interactive social media and social networks. This article reviews contemporary literature in relation to social media and social networks as well as recent case studies to identify their key characteristics, potentialities, and uses, and report findings of a survey and interviews with senior public relations practitioners in Australia investigating their views and practices in social media.

Download 'Public relations and the social: how practitioners are using, or abusing, social media' article


Public relations, education, and social media: issues for professionalism in the digital age

Deirdre Quinn-Allan

Deakin University, Australia

It is an exciting time for Public Relations practitioners, academics and students. Social Media promises new ways and means to reach target publics and professional practice is to take advantage of Web 2.0 technologies which support social media and make User Generated Content possible. However, it is also a time for caution and reflection. The widespread use of the term "spin doctoring" in mainstream media as a catchall descriptor for Public Relations demonstrates lack of respect. Whilst the media can, to some extent, be blamed for Public Relation's poor image the industry itself must also own a large share of responsibility where it privileges words over action and relies too heavily on communication asymmetry. Traditional communication channels have supported such approaches. Social media can too and clearly is being used in such a fashion. Social media is being used simply as another communication tool rather than being understood for the unique ways in which it can impact on organisation-public relationships. If educators have responsibility for developing professionalised graduates - as opposed to just vocationally competent graduates - they must give careful consideration to the way in which students are introduced to social media at a time of growing scrutiny of the role and value of Public Relations. Adoption of social media into a Public Relations curriculum must be acknowledged as complex and educators must develop curriculum around social media which is sensitive to issues associated with professionalism.

Download 'Public relations, education, and social media: issues for professionalism in the digital age' article


'There's formaldehyde in my water': absurd discourse about the Sydney desalination project - a case study

Brendan Elliott

Sydney Water Corporation, Australia

Many absurd claims have been made about the Sydney Desalination Project. The nadir of these claims was arguably in the lead-up to the March 2007 NSW election, when the Government and Opposition engaged in vigorous debate about water policy (Lawrence & Rolston, 2010). One of my favourites was "Jack from Cronulla." On 8 February 2010 Jack alleged on radio 2UE that his water smelled of formaldehyde and repeated this claim a fortnight later on radio 2GB. This was the same day Parliament resumed sitting so his timing was curious to say the least. To his great credit, 2GB host Ray Hadley gave Jack short shrift.

There was nonsensical debate on the trigger point for construction of the plant, despite independent expert advice on this being published. Others erroneously argued that rainwater tanks are cost competitive with desalination and five times more energy efficient - only to be publicly contradicted by their own consultants. A former Australian Prime Minister advocated giant solar powered tankers as a viable alternative at one stage. Desalination plants were wrongly said to be reducing renewable energy in the marketplace. NSW taxpayers were alleged to be funding the Sydney Desalination Project.

The Sydney Desalination Plant began pumping water to the city's main supply network on 28 January 2010. There was spontaneous applause from workers and others present when NSW Premier Kristina Keneally activated the first 1300-kilowatt pump and water started entering the pipeline from Kurnell. The project was completed on time and an estimated $60 million under budget. Every drop supplied to customers meets the Australian Drinking Water Guidelines (NHMRC, 2004).

Download ''There's formaldehyde in my water': absurd discourse about the Sydney desalination project - a case study' article


Advergames, their use and potential regulation

Grish Purswani

The University of Western Sydney

This paper explores the nature, history, features and benefits of advergames and the issues that this new advertising medium has raised. Advergames are interactive online games used by companies to advertise their products to consumers. Concerns have arisen about the morality of advergames, in that they can be used to advertise unhealthy products to minors in a much more concealed way than other products; and about the regulation of the industry

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Australian book publishing and the internet: How two Australian book publishing companies are using the Internet to engage with customers

Cathryn Isakson

Deakin University

The online environment has indeed changed the way that public relations is practised by Australian book publishing companies. Although still a work in progress, attempts are fostering a return to the fundamentals of public relations. This is because the online environment suits a focus on building relationships that - for many public relations practitioners and scholars - should have been at the core of public relations all along. For the purpose of this paper two book publishing companies were chosen - Penguin Australia and Lonely Planet - and the ways in which they are using virtual communities to engage with customers examined.

Download 'Australian book publishing and the internet: How two Australian book publishing companies are using the Internet to engage with customers' article

 

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