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New paradigms

Page history last edited by Richard Bailey 8 years, 5 months ago

Back to module home


Recommended reading


  • Castells, M (2009) Communication Power, Oxford University Press
  • Phillips, D and Young, P (2009) Online Public Relations (2nd edition) Kogan Page
  • Macnamara, J (2010) The 21st Century Media (R)evolution, Peter Lang


'For public relations practice the unavoidable conclusion is that nothing will ever be the same again; the advent of an online world means almost every aspect of the discipline needs to be rethought.’ (Phillips and Young 2009)



  • What do we mean by content?
  • What types of content can comms / PR / marketing create?
  • Are we doers or advisers? 


'If we accept that markets are conversations, that successful organizations cannot perform effectively unless they enter into dialogue with a range of stakeholders, then it follows inexorably that organizations must be aware of and engage with as nearly a full range of communication channels and platforms as possible.


'This doesn't mean all organizations must utilize all channels (far from it), but it is vital that they are sufficiently aware of these channels and platforms and that they identify which are most appropriate for communication with their particular stakeholders.'
Phillips and Young 2009: 237


'Search is the dominant force on the web and content that ranks highly in a Google search is de facto going to have more hits, more impact and more value... PR practitioners therefore must take account of this and consider how they use digital PR to support good search rankings. PR activity is creating content that is of increasing relevance to the way that search engines work.' 
Brown 2009: 53 


'Two students from Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, created a search engine technique based on mathematical algorithms that measured links from one website to another. This was the basis of Google, the search engine they launched in 1998. The search engine optmization business started to find ways to manipulate this new form of search. In short, they found ways of creating spurious links to the sites that they wanted to promote using devices such as link farms, which involved the creation of thousands of websites whose only function was to provide links to the original site to improve its page rank' 
Brown 2009: 54


'Natural search is a description of the process of searching that produces results based on their actual relevance rather than because their ranking has been boosted by paid-for search search engine optimization techniques.'
Brown 2009: 55 


'As a content creator, your best SEO techniques are (1) to write information-rich copy that people will want to read and link to and (2) to figure out which words people are likely to use in searches, and them embed those keywords throughout your copy.'
Barr et al 2010: 394 




  • People can have conversations. Can organisations?
  • Who speaks for the organisation in the age of the social web?
  • Who controls the conversation, and how? 
  • Where should the conversation take place? 




  • Does time spent with media break down human interactions and destroy a sense of community?
  • These concerns have escalated with the rise of the internet (see eg Sherry Turkle, Nicholas CarrEvgeny Morozov)
  • Optimists v pessimists v realists


On utopians, dystopians and realists

'If we cannot choose among these three attitudes based solely on facts, then how do we choose? I suggest that we pick the one with the best outcome. On those grounds, dystopianism is out of luck. It's fear based and depressing. How are you going to run a business with Eeyore and Chicken Little as your role models? That leaves utopianism and realism.


'Realism has the better name. It sounds like it has to be more in touch with reality. But what realist would have thought that Wikipedia was worth the time or investment? What realist would have said, "Yeah, getting a disorganized mob to build an operating system to compete with Microsoft is a terrifically practical idea"? What realist would have said in 1992, "I've seen Tim Berners-Lee's plan for a worldwide Web, and, realistically, in ten years there will be a billion people on it and hundreds of billions of pages"? A premature realism would have killed the Web. Who knows what earth-shaking ideas are right now being laughed off the Net by confident realists? Realism just isn't ambitious enough.


'And for exactly the same reasons, utopianism is the Net's ally. Realists are right more often than utopians are, because most ideas are bad. But without utopianism, the ideas that are so good that they change the world would never get the air they need. Utopians have made more of the Internet than an reasonable person could have expected. Utopians rule.'


Weinberger in Levine et al 2009: 65



  • Western societies in particular are moving towards individualization, but the internet encourages collective individualism (Macnamara 2010).
  • Technological determinism (claims that technology determines society) versus social constructionism (society determines how we use technology)


Social media has always existed

'Traditionally people made their own culture in tribes and villages and local communities.  However, in the 19th and 20th centuries cultural production was taken over by what Frankfurt School scholars termed the "culture industry"... During the 20th century in particular, these industries came to be dominated by mass media such as major Hollywood film studios, newspaper empires, and major global TV networks... Emergent internet media give people a way back to culture making.' Macnamara 2010: 138


'Emergent media and public communication practices also provide spaces for community building.' Macnamara 2010, p 153


The future of public relations


'Analysis shows a major misalignment between public relations theory and practice in relation to working in an uncontrolled interactive environment.' (Macnamara 2010 pp 314-315)


'There is an urgent need for public relations to rethink its methods and practices and commit to openness, authenticity and conversations which lead to true dialogue and relationships, rather than distributing packaged imagery.' (Macnamara 2010, p 316)


'This suggests a new model for public relations in which centralized control paradigm 'gatekeeper' units are dismantled and replaced by professional communicators acting as advisers, trainers and facilitators of communication'. Macnamara 2010 p 323


Old Paradigm  New Paradigm 
Central media contact point  Provides training to help organizational spokespersons speak directly with media 
Writes and distributes all media releases and statements  Writes guidelines for making public statements, blog posts etc 
Publishes corporate newsletters  Assists in publishing organizational blogs, podcasts etc 
Provides general information on request by phone 

Publishes FAQs on website

Regularly surveys key stakeholders

Participates in online forums 

Subscribes to a press clipping service 

Monitors and analyzes media to identify audience reach, source credibility, messages, emerging issues etc

Provides early warning and intelligence to management 

Macnamara 2010, p324 


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