Posts Tagged ‘user generated content’

Public Relations: social change for social good – Part 3

In previous posts I’ve spoken about the basics of Web 1.0 compared to Web 2.0. On that topic, I feel that it’s in everybody’s interest to discuss more deeply the main aspect of Web 2.0, user-generated content.

As noted in my 2nd post, Web 2.0 relies on user collaboration, sharing of user-generated content, and social networking. In this modern world, part of a PR practitioner’s job is to manage the online world of an organisation. This includes reputation management.

While the introduction of Web 2.0 brought about a new way of online life, it also made the job of a PR practitioner a lot harder. Even though the positives do outweigh the negatives, there are certain aspects of Web 2.0 that are often overlooked.

Social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter allow for users to upload and post any content that they want to be seen by others. Many organisations and public figures are operating their own Facebook and Twitter accounts to further engage and interact on a personal level with their publics. While this provides an opportunity for growth, it also decreases the amount of control they have.

There are several ‘must do’s’ when it comes to best practice in online reputation management. These are: personalise, monitor, respond in a timely manner, update regularly and manage settings [1]. These few do’s will assist in controlling the communication on a page or account.

In most cases of well-maintained pages, practitioners and team members of the organisation would contribute and monitor the content on a regular basis, ensuring that they remain with adequate control. However in the case of outbursts or crisis’s, the flow of content dramatically increases and people tend to share and contribute a lot more. This has proven to be very risky.

You may remember the O’Farrell twitter outburst a few years back when NSW Opposition Leader Barry O’Farrell was caught referring to Julia Gillard as “the ranga”, in what was supposed to be a private message to a political journalist.

Although he shortly after deleted the post, a screenshot was taken by one of his followers and was shared and distributed to thousands on both Facebook and Twitter within minutes.

barry o'farrell

More details on the incident here.

As you can see in this example, moving to online communication and networking is very risky and even though O’Farrell deleted the post in a timely manner, a few seconds was enough for it to be seen and rapidly shared throughout the online world.

In hindsight, we have mentioned that two way communications is a must in successful public relations practice and that the introduction and implementation of Web 2.0 allowed for two way communication between organisations and their publics. We have also gone over in the first post how public relations practitioners use social media to create social change through the use of Web 2.0. In saying this, we must also recognise the risks associated with doing so and must be aware of the certain aspects that may cause problems in reputation of individuals or organisations.

[1] M. Rana. (personal communication. lecture 5, April 8 2013)


05 2013

How public relations practice has used social media to create social change

Nothing But Nets= Web 2.0 + PR 2.0:  A Creative formula for social change Read the rest of this entry →


04 2013

PR 2.0: Creating change with social media:Part 2

“How do I shut down twitter?” – a frazzled and unnamed HMV marketing director after a disgruntled employee took to the music retailers account to live tweet a mass sacking to the world. (1)

Marketing gurus of yore used to say that a dissatisfied customer would tell 10 people about their bad experience. (2)

Now with the advent of social media they can tell 10 million. (3)

This has had huge ramifications for those like HMV who have failed to understand social mediums such as twitter and the rate at which news can travel via these mediums. (4)

However PR practitioners crusading against societal evils aren’t afraid of social media’s ability to disseminate information widely and quickly.

Instead they are using it to their advantage.

The Arab Spring movement, which saw many in the Middle East and North Africa rise against their countries repressive political structures in a series of rebellious displays, was aided by social media’s ability to spread news fast. (5)

Cartoon showing how Arab Spring protesters used social media instead of weapons

Cartoon showing how Arab Spring protesters used social media instead of weapons

Professor of Mass Communication at the American University in Cairo, Hussein Amin, said that social networks “for the first time provided activists with an opportunity to quickly disseminate information while bypassing government restriction”. (6)

Similarly the RSPCA’s “Help us close puppy farms” campaign uses social media to further promote its cause.

Its Facebook page, which has around 35,000 followers, encourages users to share a video which educates them on what puppy farms are and what they can do to stop them, with their Facebook friends via the “share” tab option below Facebook posts.

Sharing or the participatory nature of social media

As mentioned in my last post social media is an offset of web 2.0. (7)

Web 2.0 sets itself apart from web 1.0 because it invites contribution and centres around content made by those who use it. (8)

Publicists using social media to affect change have worked with these characteristics to enhance the effect of their campaigns.

The “It gets better” campaign created by columnist and author Dan Savage uses user generated content to further its ability to create real social change.

The campaign, which seeks to communicate messages of hope to lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth facing vilification due to their sexuality, encourages supporters to create videos of themselves giving their own messages of hope and upload them to the campaigns website or YouTube channel. (9)

Since the campaigns creation in 2010 50,000 videos have been submitted with notable recordings from the likes of Barack Obama and Ellen Degeneres.(10)

My next post will highlight other social media features, which publicists have utilised to affect social change, before highlighting the true key to the success of all social media usage.

  1. E.Rowley, ‘HMV staffer claims responsibility for tweeting mass sacking’, The Telegraph, January 31, 2013, at:, (accessed April 4, 2013).
  2. G. Mangold & D. Faulds, ‘Social Media: The new hybrid element of the promotion mix’, Business Horizons, 52(2009), 359.
  3. Mangold & Faulds, 359.
  4. Rowley, ‘HMV staffer claims responsibility for tweeting mass sacking’.
  5. G. Blight, S.Pulham & P. Torpey, Arab spring: an interactive timeline of Middle East protests, The Guardian, January 5, 2012, at: , (accessed April 4, 2013).
  6. Bangkok Post, (Bangkok), February 2,2012, at:, (accessed April 4,2013).
  7. A. Kaplan & M. Haenlein, ‘Users of the world, unite! The challenges and opportunities of Social Media’, Business Horizons, 53, 2010, 60-61.
  8. Kaplan & Haenlein, 61.
  9. Savage Love, LLC. What is the it gets better project? Retrieved from
  10. Savage Love,LLC.


04 2013

The sky’s still the limit: but what’s beyond the web and the world wide sphere?

World wide sphere

The phenomenal growth of the internet has led us into virtual worlds and spaces that were once unimaginable, but what’s more surprising is that the internet started out as nothing more than a big Bulletin Board System (BBS). Read the rest of this entry →


05 2012

It’s Our Job; Public Relations in Social Media Pt. 2

Continuing on from my last piece on the shifting balance of power between social media and Public Relations

Older generations of Public Relations practitioners  promoted  their organisations through the use of media releases leaked to journalists, media kits, tv advertising, company speeches, and more recently, web pages and email. This gave many organisations the “illusion of control” – they could decide what their public heard and keep their reputations safe.

Read the rest of this entry →


04 2012

PR Practitioners are spinning out of control

Social MediaPublic relation practitioners were once the go to men of company meltdowns or catastrophes, who covered themselves in a veil of false security and an elusion of control. This veil has now been well and truly lifted, with the old rules of public relations lining up like dominos, knocking each other down as they fall.

Companies were once able to control the information about themselves through press releases and Public relation practitioners would try in their best efforts to persuade a public with a single flow of information. This transitional model, sender – receiver, is no longer applicable as customers and audiences now have the ability to publicly post about whatever they please, when they please.

This type of communication is coined the Co-creation model, as the public are no longer mere receivers, they now have the ability to create and modify such information, whilst companies observe in disarray and lack the ability to control the flow of information.

Such content that is created by consumers or the public, is called User Generated Content (UGC) and in an increasingly impatient society, content is being generated at lightning speed, consequently causing an information overload. This is where content curators come in, like Thing One and Thing Two from Cat In The Hat, they order and summarise information, allowing us to locate and use information from the Internet, with no extra effort on our behalves. (Thing one and Thing two are good at cleaning up messes)

The transformation of Public Relations Practice has happened rapidly with the revolution of Web 2.0, but such practitioners are having to find ways to adapt to the ever-increasing social media use. How are you adapting to rapidly changing and updating social media?


03 2012