This paper explores the relationship between social media as tools used by public relations professionals and as part of the daily lives of organizations’ stakeholders, identifying emergent practices in public relations and confronting new perspectives, both professional and academic, on public relations functions and on its role within organizational communication. Departing from the agreement shared by academics and professionals on a profound shift in public relations as a consequence of the increasingly widespread, intense and frequent use of social media, this paper intends to clarify the nature and terms of that shift. Two perspectives are confronted: one of them is focused on emergent professional practices and regards social media as tools at the disposal of the PR professional; the other is broader in scope and views social media as a contextual factor that influences both the stakeholders’ behavior patterns and PR practices, thus redefining the role of public relations within organizational communication. The paper presents results from an exploratory study whose goal was to identify a conceptual framework for understanding the impact of social media on public relations.A relevant case study was identified, presenting the solution found by TAP, the Portuguese airline company, to deal with communication crisis involving the social media and to successfully manage social media use as a complementary communication channel. TAP’s social media presence is managed through an articulation of public relations, marketing and customer support where public relations assume a pivotal role. Drawing on this case study, we propose the PR pyramid as a theoretical model that redefines the role of public relations as the orchestrator of the consistent, coherent and integrated communication that is demanded by the contemporary digital context.
|Journal||Revista Internacional de Relaciones Públicas|
|Publication status||Published - 2012|