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QuestionHow can an organisation develop Public Relations, bearing in mind technological advances?
AnswerPublic Relations is a broad term used to describe the many ways that companies seek to improve the way that they are perceived by the public, or to gain greater public attention. Public relations in the past often centred around physical events, ‘publicity stunts’ and acts of benevolence (sponsorships and donations). The attention that the PR activities gained was dependent on either the physical audiences or media attention. With the development of social media and other online sharing systems a huge opportunity has developed for companies to reach and expand the audience for their PR. For example, Carlsberg recently enacted a PR stunt where they gave out free beer via the baggage carousel at London City Airport (Beecham, 2015). The physical audience for the stunt was limited to those present, the audience was also further expanded by media attention. However, through social media the event can be shared by various parties (company, witnesses, media) and so can reach a much wider audience. Social media allows the companies to publicise their activities themselves, rather than being dependent on media taking interest in it. This is beneficial in that it allows the companies to put out greater amounts of PR, and with more dependable audiences, but it also allows other companies to do the same – which can effectively ‘flood the market’. The proliferation of PR activities that are shared on social media can reduce the impact of each individual example. Thus it is necessary for companies to try to make their efforts more significant and noticeable to successfully capture public attention. The greatest success is if the effort can ‘go viral’ whereby it is shared and perpetuated by viewers to reach a very wide audience. Such an example is the Ice Bucket Challenge which aimed to raise money for ALS disease research (Boren, 2014).
ReferencesBeecham, R. (2015) Carlsburg surprises London City Airport passengers (online), The Wharf, available: [http://www.wharf.co.uk/news/local-news/carlsberg-surprises-london-city-airport-9725297], accessed 04/10/2016 Boren, Z. D. (2014) What is ALS and the Ice Bucket Challenge? (online), The Independent, available: [http://www.independent.co.uk/life-style/health-and-families/health-news/behind-the-ice-bucket-challenge-what-is-als-9674647.html], accessed 04/10/2016
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