Vol 12 No 2 - 2011

Editorial Comment

World Public Relations Forum

Utilising Facebook to create an online community for PR students - Karen E Sutherland

Trialling PR2.0: an exploratory study of the non-capital city practitioner's social media use - Prue Robson and Melanie James

Social media governance: Gaps, risks and opportunities in PR and reputation management - Jim Macnamara

The Butterfly Model: the role of mass media at the pre-crisis stage of crisis management - Siavash Salavatian and Alireza Gharagozio


Book Reviews

Download full text

Editorial Comment

Of the five papers in this final edition of the APPRJ for 2011 four have been drawn from the refereed section of the 2011 the Academic Forum at PR Directions conference held in Sydney in November.

Not surprisingly social media is front and centre for both public relations academic and professionals and the papers refereed for the 2011 PRIA conference reflect the prominence of this current phenomenon. Sutherland's paper is a quantitative demographic approach to Facebook and its uses among PR students. Her results clearly define a division between the types of information used in the teaching environment and those in the more social setting of Facebook. It is research that cannot be ignored by teaching academics who wish to be part of the social media era.

Another paper with a strong quantitative analysis is Robson and James' study of social media use by regional PR practitioners. While their findings conclude that there is still a trial and error approach to the technology it may not be practitioner hesitancy but in some cases more of organisational (or client) ignorance or reluctance. Macnamara's paper complements the findings of Robson and James but on a broader scale. He concludes that PR and corporate communication practitioners have a strong interest in social media but qualifies this because of inconsistent implementation of social media governance and management policies.

Howell and Taylor examine social media usage in a crisis management environment and find that to engage target publics' trust the networks must be in place before crisis occurs.

The final paper in this volume is also concerned with crisis management. Salavatian and Gharagozlo have developed a hypothetical model for mass media in pre-crisis management. They have dubbed it a butterfly model due to its shape. The authors hope practitioners will apply the model in practice and this will demonstrate its capacity and validity.

The Asia Pacific Public Relations Journal acknowledges and is grateful for the significant contribution of Dr Gwyneth Howell, University of Western Sydney, Australia as guest editor of this edition.

Volume 13 No 1 (2012) of the APPRJ is fortunate to have Dr Chris Galloway of Swinburne University, Australia as guest editor. Volume 13 No 2 will include papers from the following World Public Relations Forum. Details of the Forum are included in this editorial.

Edited by
Mark Sheehan
Deakin University

Guest Editor
Gwyneth Howell
University of Western Sydney

World Public Relations Forum

18-20 November 2012
Melbourne, Australia
Theme: Communication Without Borders

Utilising Facebook to create an online community for PR students

Karen E Sutherland

Monash University

Facebook allows public relations educators to engage with students in a space where many are already connected. This paper is the beginning of a wider PhD research project analysing Facebook as a public relations educational tool. It explores whether the Monash PR Community on Facebook meets its objective of engaging with public relations students. It evaluates page usage metrics and student survey results to investigate the effectiveness of strategies employed to connect with, and maintain momentum when interacting with students; as well as what prompts students or prevents them from uploading their own contributions.


Trialling PR2.0: an exploratory study of the non-capital city practitioner's social media use

Prue Robson

University of Newcastle


Melanie James

University of Newcastle

This exploratory study examined how public relations practitioners based outside capital cities are using social media. Forty-eight practitioners based in one of Australia's largest non-capital city regions were surveyed in 2010. It was found that these practitioners are trialling how social media can be used to achieve public relations objectives. Practitioners are more likely to be using social media in their personal lives and for their own professional development, than for their organisation or clients. However, this research indicates practitioners who use social media outside of work will progress to using social media for public relations purposes. Further, these practitioners and their organisations are resource-challenged and risk-averse when it comes to using social media to engage with their publics. Further research is needed to ascertain the implications of these findings for public relations practice and education.


Social media governance: Gaps, risks and opportunities in PR and reputation management

Jim Macnamara

University of Technology Sydney

An emerging issue identified in recent European public relations and organisational communication research is governance in relation to social media use - a multi-faceted concept that includes policies and guidelines for employee use of social media, monitoring, and training of staff allowed or even encouraged to discuss work-related issues online. Social media governance foregrounds understanding that social media are public, not private, spaces and highlights the risks to organisations of inappropriate social media comment and content distributed by employees. Pioneering research in this area in Europe in 2010 found that most organisations do not have clear employee policies and guidelines in place, and a majority do not monitor social media despite enormous growth in their use - thus, leaving organisations exposed to significant security, reputational and even legal risks. With PR and corporate communication practitioners identifying themselves as the function primarily responsible for social media in most organisations, governance is an issue with significant practical implications, as well as being an important issue for engagement among scholars and educators. This paper reports findings of a 2011 quantitative and qualitative study of social media use in Australasian private and public sector organisations compared with regional and international data to identify a key future direction and priority in public relations and reputation management. The findings point to a significant risk exposure requiring management, as well as opportunities to improve and expand public relations and corporate and organisational communication practice.

The Butterfly Model: the role of mass media at the pre-crisis stage of crisis management

Siavash Salavatian

IRIB Media University, Tehran


Alireza Gharagozio

SRBIAU University, Tehran

Although different crises in societies and the resulting costly damage present various models of crisis management, managing the pre-crisis stage (PCS) has been neglected in the available models. This article examines the role of mass media (MM) as one of the most effective tools for leading public opinion in a crisis, especially in the PCS, and the design of an appropriate model to reflect this. In order to identify the elements and structure of the model, a number of scholars and experts in the area of media and crisis management (CM) were interviewed in-depth and the resulting data were analyzed using grounded theory. The butterfly model of media roles in managing the PCS is the result of this research. Based on this model of PCS management, the media play five roles. These are monitoring, educating, leading public opinion, informing and rallying public support. The Research findings substantiate the vital role of media at the pre-crisis management (PCM) stage, and support the application of the butterfly model to predict, prevent and inform preparedness to act in a crisis.


Peter Maund


John Malone

Book reviews

Public relations, theories, practices, critiques

Jim Macnamara
Pearson 2012
Reviewer - Mark Sheehan, Deakin University

Public relations Public relations cases (ninth edition)

Darrell C. Hayes, Jerry Hendrix & Pallavi D. Kumar
Wadsworth 2013
Reviewer - Mark Sheehan, Deakin University

Download full text

Download Volume 12 no 2 (1.3 MB)




Back to top

Back to top