New Media and Public Relations – Third Edition

by Sandra C. Duhé (Volume editor)
©2017 Textbook XII, 336 Pages


The latest edition of New Media and Public Relations offers communication scholars, professionals, and students current insights on how emerging technologies challenge and change the rules of stakeholder engagement in corporate, nonprofit, and activist environments. Topics include updated thinking on mobile applications, crisis response, and ethical implications of online exchanges in addition to groundbreaking explorations into the developing arenas of personas, emojis, listening theory, and historiophoty in public relations practice. All-new content in this popular text once again delivers new thinking in public relations theory and practice for an ever-changing digital landscape.
New Media and Public Relations is well-suited for advanced undergraduate and graduate courses in public relations principles, management, case studies, and strategy, as well as courses in corporate communication, marketing communication, integrated marketing communication, and digital communication.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • List of Illustrations
  • Tables
  • Figures
  • Editor’s Note (Sandra Duhé)
  • Part I: Introduction
  • Chapter 1: State of the Field: Research Trajectories in New Media and Public Relations (Sandra Duhé)
  • References
  • Part II: Emerging Ideas – Overview (Sandra Duhé)
  • Chapter 2: Where Have Publics Gone? The Absence of Publics in New Media Research (Dejan Verčič / Ana Tkalac Verčič / Krishnamurthy Sriramesh)
  • Methodology
  • Results
  • Problems Studied (RQ1) and Terminology (RQ2)
  • The Prime Users of these Technologies (RQ3), the Prime Technologies (RQ4), and Stakeholders and Publics (RQ5)
  • Primacy of Publics (RQ6)
  • Discussion
  • Digital Divide
  • Privacy
  • Conclusion and the Future
  • References
  • Chapter 3: Personability Is the New Likeability: The Importance of Creating a Persona for Public Relations in Social Media (Soo-Kwang (Klive) Oh)
  • Public Relations in New Media: Do They “Like” You?
  • First Study: “Likeability” Factors
  • Brand Personality in Public Relations
  • Second Study: Brand Personality and the Willingness to Like
  • Personality Branding 2.0: “Personability”
  • Implications of Personability for Research
  • For Practice
  • For Education
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter 4: Visual Modalities in Online Public Relations and Marketing: The Role of Emojis (Michail Vafeiadis)
  • What Are Emoticons?
  • Overview of Empirical Applications of Emoticons
  • Visual Persuasion
  • Interactivity
  • Emojis as Attributes of Functional Interactivity
  • Emojis as Attributes of Contingency Interactivity
  • Theoretical Implications
  • Practical Implications
  • Future Research
  • References
  • Chapter 5: New Media, Vlogging and Public Relations Historiophoty (Jordi Xifra / Maria-Rosa Collell)
  • The Historiography and Historiophoty of Public Relations
  • Methodology
  • Video Procurement
  • Data Coding
  • Results
  • Characteristics of Public Relations Historiophoty
  • The Discourse of Public Relations Historiophoty
  • Theoretical and Practical Implications
  • Limitations and Future Research
  • Note
  • References
  • Appendix: Analyzed videos
  • Chapter 6: Cognitive Listening Theory and Public Relations Practices in New Media (Jeffrey D. Brand / Melissa L. Beall)
  • Review of Literature
  • Communication Variables for New Media
  • Listening Theory and Public Relations
  • Listening Theory and Models
  • Harfield’s Cognitive Listening Model
  • Sense
  • Evaluation, Interpretation, Understanding
  • Responding
  • Suggestions for Future Research
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Part III: Corporate – Overview (Sandra Duhé)
  • Chapter 7: Mobile Corporate Communication: Potentials and Contemporary Practices (Cornelia Wolf / Ansgar Zerfass)
  • Mobile Devices and Their Relevance for Information Purposes
  • Qualities of Mobile Devices and Mobile Corporate Media
  • Challenges on the Organizational and Production Level – Current Practices
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter 8: What’s ROI Got to Do with It? (Yi Grace Ji / Zifei “Fay” Chen / Cong Li / Don W. Stacks)
  • Emergence of Social Media in Today’s Business World
  • Linking Nonfinancial and Financial Outcomes in Public Relations Research
  • Incorporating Social Media into the ROE→ROI Model
  • Method
  • Study Overview
  • Sampling Procedure
  • Social Media-Based ROE Indicators
  • Financial Variables
  • Results
  • Sample Profile
  • Test of Measurement Model
  • Test of SEM Path Models and Hypotheses
  • Discussion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 9: Blurring the Lines between Personal and Organizational Identity: The Role of Identity Construction on Twitter when Leaders Change Organizations (Sarah Bonewits Feldner / Kati Tusinski Berg)
  • Literature Review
  • The Changing Landscape of Corporate Communication
  • Twitter and Corporate Leadership
  • Identity Construction on Social Media
  • Case Studies
  • Steve Wojo: From Duke Assistant to Marquette Head Coach
  • Marissa Mayer: From Google Executive to Yahoo CEO
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 10: Strategically Disconnected: The Great Divide between What Banks Provide and What Publics Want on Social Media (Marcia W. DiStaso / Chelsea Amaral)
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • Banking Industry
  • Trust
  • Social Media
  • Research Questions
  • Method
  • Results
  • Social Media Adoption by Banks
  • Bank Social Media Use
  • What the Public Wants from Banks on Social Media
  • Intersection of What the Public Wants and What Banks are Providing on Social Media
  • Social Media’s Impact on Trust in Banks
  • Discussion
  • Bank Social Media Adoption
  • Bank Social Media Use
  • Social Media’s Impact on Trust
  • Social Media’s Strategic Opportunities for Banks
  • Conclusion
  • Limitations and Future Research
  • References
  • Chapter 11: New Media in Investor Relations (Alexander V. Laskin)
  • Investor Relations as a Public Relations Function
  • Overview of New Media Use in Investor Relations
  • Information Disclosure
  • Education and Explanation
  • Listening and Shareholder Research
  • Examples of New Media Usage in Investor Relations
  • Conclusions and Implications
  • References
  • Chapter 12: Fortune 500 Social Media Policies: A Content Analysis Study (Daradirek “Gee” Ekachai / David L. Brinker, Jr.)
  • Literature Review
  • Competing Views of Social Media as Risk and Opportunity
  • Research Aims
  • Method
  • Coding System
  • Coding Themes and Categories
  • Findings and Analysis
  • Risk and Opportunity Indicators
  • Legal and Ethical Indicators
  • Accountability and Empowerment Indicators
  • Discussion
  • Opportunity and Risk
  • Legal and Ethical Considerations
  • Empowerment and Accountability Considerations
  • Limitations and Suggestions for Future Studies
  • Note
  • References
  • Part IV: Nonprofit and Education – Overview (Sandra Duhé)
  • Chapter 13: Blending Dialogic and Relationship Management Theories: Developing an Integrated Social Media Communication Model for the Non-Profit Sector (Karen E. Sutherland / Angela K. Y. Mak)
  • Literature Review
  • Public Relations Social Media Research
  • Relationship Management Central to Non-Profit Public Relations
  • Dialogic Theory
  • Mutuality
  • Commitment
  • Empathy
  • Risk
  • Propinquity
  • Relationship Management Theory
  • Transparency
  • Trust
  • Blending Dialogic and Relationship Management Theories
  • Using the Dialogic and Relationship Management Theory Blend to Underpin Non-Profit Research
  • Key Findings Using a Dialogic and Relationship Management Theory Blend
  • Communication Flow
  • Integration between Social Media, Other Online Channels, and Traditional Media
  • Dialogic/Relationship Management
  • An Integrated Social Media Communication Model for the Non-Profit Sector
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 14: Ethics of Control Mutuality and Implications for Social Media Practice in the Nonprofit Sector (Diana C. Sisson)
  • The Nonprofit Sector and Organization-Public Relationships
  • Organization-Public Relationships
  • Power in Relationships
  • Control Mutuality
  • Ethics of Control Mutuality
  • Ethics of Care
  • Benevolence and Beneficence
  • Social Media Implications in the Nonprofit Sector
  • Social Media in Nonprofits
  • Discussion
  • Future Research
  • References
  • Chapter 15: Building Digital Bridges through Evidence-Based Practices in Social Media Pedagogy (Karen Freberg)
  • Literature Review
  • Current Status of Professionals’ Social Media Use and Preparation
  • How (and Where?) Should Social Media Be Taught?
  • How are Faculty Using Social Media in Class?
  • Teaching Social Media Etiquette
  • Future Directions and Calls-to-Action for Educators and Practitioners
  • Expanding on the Role of a Professor Teaching and Using Social Media for Classes
  • References
  • Part V: Ethics – Overview (Sandra Duhé)
  • Chapter 16: Ethical Implications of Organizations Engaging on Social Media: An Application of the Ethic of Care Philosophy (Tina McCorkindale)
  • Philosophical and Ethical Constructs
  • Social Media Policies
  • Social Media Engagement
  • Social Media Influence
  • Limitations and Future Research
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 17: Extending Ethical Public Relations: Practitioners’ Attitudes and Perceptions about Acceptable Professional Activities in Social Media (Margalit Toledano)
  • Literature Review
  • Public Relations Ethics
  • Public Relations Ethics and Social Media
  • The Study and the Methodology
  • The Survey and Sample
  • Findings
  • Training
  • Social Media and the Role of Public Relations
  • Public Relations Practices and Responsibilities
  • Discussion and Conclusion
  • References
  • Part VI: Activism –Overview (Sandra Duhé)
  • Chapter 18: The Changes in Modern Activist Communication: Theoretical Insights into New Challenges for Public Relations (Romy Fröhlich)
  • Activism and Cyberactivism – Confusing Definitions
  • Anti-Corporate Campaigns and Consumer Activism
  • On Activism’s Relevance for Public Relations
  • How the Internet Has Changed Dynamics in Corporate Public Relations–Activists’ Relations
  • What the Empirical Studies to Date Have Shown Us
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 19: Understanding Communicative Activism of Publics in Digital Network Society: A Taxonomy of Digitalized Communicative Actions (Yeunjae Lee / Myoung-Gi Chon / Yu Won Oh / Jeong-Nam Kim)
  • Introduction
  • Literature Review
  • The Situational Theory of Problem Solving (STOPS)
  • Communicative Actions in Problem Solving (CAPS)
  • Communicative Activism of Publics in the Digital Network
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 20: The Use of Blogging as Online Grassroots Activism: Analysis of the Scott Sisters Case (Jae-Hwa Shin / Thomas Broadus / Melody T. Fisher / Riva R. Brown)
  • Literature Review
  • Case History of the Scott Sisters
  • Blogs as Web Community
  • Role of Black Bloggers in Online Activism
  • Frames, Themes, Emotion, and Language
  • Method
  • Results
  • Theoretical and Practical Implications
  • Limitations and Conclusion
  • References
  • Part VII: Community Management – Overview (Sandra Duhé)
  • Chapter 21: Hashtags for Health? On the Strategic Use of Hashtags in a Multi-Sectoral Advocacy Coalition (Richard D. Waters / Gregory D. Saxton / Jerome Niyirora / Chao Guo)
  • Literature Review
  • The Role of Hashtags
  • Cross-Sectoral Partnerships and Inter-Sectoral Differences
  • Method
  • Results
  • Discussion
  • Practical Implications
  • Theoretical Implications
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 22: Responsiveness and Interactivity: Relational Maintenance Strategies in an Online Environment (Ruth Avidar)
  • Literature Review
  • The Relational Approach
  • Responsiveness, Interactivity, and Relational Maintenance Strategies
  • Hypothesis
  • Methodology
  • Method
  • Participants
  • Operationalization of Variables
  • Research Design
  • Questionnaire
  • Findings
  • Discussion and Conclusions
  • Theoretical Implications
  • Practical Implications
  • Limitations and Future Research
  • References
  • Chapter 23: The Democracy of Reddit: Transparency and Two-Way Communication in Online Community Management (Amber L. Hutchins / Natalie T. J. Tindall)
  • Understanding Reddit
  • Community Management as a Component of Strategic Communication
  • Ethics of Strategic Communication
  • TARES Test
  • Social Media Ethics and Community Management
  • Findings and Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 24: The Challenge of True Engagement: How 21st Century Gay Pride Organizations Strategically Use Social Media to Mobilize Key Stakeholders (Dean E. Mundy)
  • Literature Review
  • Method
  • Findings
  • Quick, Direct, Affordable News Source
  • Interaction vs. Engagement: The Limits of Social Media
  • Constant and Consistent Contact
  • Know Your Operational Context
  • Discussion
  • Conclusion
  • Limitations
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 25: Perception Is Reality: Understanding Tactics That Enhance or Diminish Credibility in Social Media (Carolyn Mae Kim)
  • Literature Review
  • Credibility
  • Public Relations and Social Media
  • Methodology
  • Findings
  • Tactics That Enhance Credibility
  • Tactics That Diminish Credibility
  • Discussion
  • Trustworthiness, and News and Information
  • Expertise and Events, Products and Promotions
  • Authentic Communication, Dialogue Building Techniques, and Engagement Style
  • Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Part VIII: Crisis Management – Overview (Sandra Duhé)
  • Chapter 26: A Communicatively Constituted Online Crisis: A Theoretical Proposition for Studying Crisis Development in Social Media Communicative Interactions (Chiara Valentini / Stefania Romenti / Dean Kruckeberg)
  • Introduction
  • A Concise Overview of Crisis Communication Research in Public Relations Literature
  • Social Media and Online Crises: The Role of Communication
  • The Communicative Constitution Perspective
  • Application of the Communicative Constitution Perspective to the Crisis Definition
  • Implications for Crisis Communication Theory and Practice
  • Conclusions and Future Research
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter 27: Digital Naturals and the Rise of Paracrises: The Shape of Modern Crisis Communication (W. Timothy Coombs)
  • Key Terms: Digital Naturals and Reputational Crises
  • Digital Naturals
  • Emergence of Reputational Crises
  • Digital Naturals and the Pre-crisis Phase
  • Digital Naturals and the Post-Crisis Phase: Responding to Paracrises
  • Promising and Future Research
  • Digital Naturals as Crisis Communication Targets
  • Implications for Using Social Media for Crisis Communication
  • Summary
  • Conclusion
  • References
  • Chapter 28: From Text, to the Static Image, to Live-Streaming Apps: An Overview of Social Media Technology Use during the Critical Period of a Crisis (Joe Downing)
  • The Rise of Social Media
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • The Symbiotic Relationship between Legacy News Outlets and Social Media Users
  • The Emergence of the Citizen Journalist
  • Accessing the Credibility of Initial News Messages on Social Media
  • How Breaking News Goes Viral
  • The Mobile Web
  • Social Media and the “Networked Lens”
  • The Emergence of Live-Streaming Video
  • Problems with Streaming Video
  • Implications for Crisis Communication Professionals
  • Conclusion
  • Notes
  • References
  • Chapter 29: Picture This and Take That: Strategic Crisis Visuals and Visual Social Media (VSM) in Crisis Communication (Yan Jin / Lucinda Austin / Jeanine P. D. Guidry / Candace Parrish)
  • Visuals in Crisis Communication
  • Dissecting Strategic Crisis Visuals: The Role of Visuals in Crisis Communication
  • Defining Strategic Crisis Visuals
  • Strategic Crisis Visuals and Information Processing
  • Framing Effects of Strategic Crisis Visuals
  • Emotional Impact of Strategic Crisis Visuals
  • Strategic Use of VSM in Crisis Communication
  • Strategic Crisis Visuals on Social Media
  • Dominant VSM Platforms and Organizational Crises
  • Multimodal Crisis Communication on VSM
  • Implications for Crisis Communication Practice
  • Future Research and Conclusion
  • Note
  • References
  • Chapter 30: Back to Basics: Examining Key Demographics in New Media and Crisis Communication (Brooke Fisher Liu / Julia Daisy Fraustino / Yan Jin)
  • Literature Review
  • Information Seeking
  • Information Sharing
  • Disaster Information Credibility, Severity, and Responsibility
  • Research Questions/Hypotheses
  • Method
  • Survey Participants and Procedure
  • Survey Instrument and Variables
  • Results
  • Influences of Gender
  • Influences of Age
  • Influences of Race/Ethnicity
  • Discussion
  • Gender, Age, Race/Ethnicity and Disaster Behaviors
  • Implications for Crisis Communication Practice and Theory
  • Limitations and Conclusion
  • References
  • Contributors

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List of Illustrations


Table 2.1. Terms mentioned in article titles

Table 2.2. Sources, media and types of publics as defined in the analyzed articles (1996–2015)

Table 3.1. Personalities identified from top liked corporate social media content

Table 10.1. Social media topics for banks

Table 12.1. Risk indicators

Table 12.2. Opportunity indicators

Table 12.3. Legal indicators

Table 12.4. Ethical indicators

Table 12.5. Accountability and empowerment indicators

Table 21.1. Mean values and inter-sectoral significance tests for hashtag use variables, based on tweets sent from January to August 2014 by NHC patient advocacy, professional interest, and business interest organizations

Table 22.1. Factor analysis of the variables from the questionnaire: Loading matrix for the four factors after varimax rotation

Table 24.1. Participating cities

Table 25.1. Positive tactic content analysis descriptive statistics

Table 25.2. Negative tactic content analysis descriptive statistics

Table 25.3. Relationship of positive tactics and dimensions of credibility ← ix | x →

Table 27.1. Selecting response strategies for challenge paracrises

Table 30.1. Gender differences in intentions to engage in information seeking

Table 30.2. Gender differences in intentions to engage in information sharing

Table 30.3. Gender differences in intentions to take actions

Table 30.4. Gender differences in disaster information credibility, perceived severity and responsibility

Table 30.5. Age differences in intentions to engage in information seeking

Table 30.6. Age differences in intentions to engage in information sharing

Table 30.7. Age differences in intentions to take actions

Table 30.8. Age differences in disaster information credibility, perceived severity and responsibility

Table 30.9. Race differences in intentions to engage in information seeking

Table 30.10. Race differences in intentions to engage in information sharing

Table 30.11. Race differences in intentions to take actions

Table 30.12. Race differences in disaster information credibility, perceived severity and responsibility


Figure 2.1. Term popularity through time (1991–2015)

Figure 3.1
a and b.

Examples of “Wendy” as a Sassy, Personable Individual

Figure 6.1. Harfield cognitive listening model is reprinted with permission from Dwight R. Harfield.

Figure 8.1. Proposed SEM measurement model

Figure 8.2. Path model for H182

Figure 8.3. Path model for H282

Figure 10.1. Social media adoption by banks and internet users

Figure 10.2. Actual v. desired bank social media content

Figure 13.1. Theoretical framework blending dialogic and relationship management theories

Figure 13.2. Integrated social media communication model

Figure 17.1. Whistleblower perceptions among practitioners

Figure 17.2. Transparency perceptions among practitioners

Figure 17.3. Front group perceptions among practitioners

Figure 18.1. Social movements

Figure 27.1. Regenerative crisis model

Figure 29.1. Social-mediated crisis communication model (Liu, Jin, Austin, & Janoske, 2012)

Figure 29.2. Role of strategic crisis visuals (CV) and visual social media (VSM) in crisis

| xi →

Editor’s Note

As I sit to write this brief note, I am amazed to be preparing the third edition of New Media and Public Relations. The gratitude I feel toward the extraordinary scholars who have contributed to these pages is only slightly surpassed by the excitement I experience bringing their work to a broader audience. Both new and established scholars have entrusted their research to my handling – a task I accept with great care and appreciation for the relationships and learning I have enjoyed. I marvel at the connections to great minds (and great people) these three volumes have enabled me to make literally around the globe. Thank you, Mary Savigar of Peter Lang, for the support and opportunity you and your dedicated team have provided me since 2006 when this volume was first proposed as an anthology on “mediated public relations.” This series continues to be heralded as a scholarly forerunner in the field, and I am grateful to not only work with a prestigious publisher, but also see how a number of my public relations colleagues have found a home for their books at Peter Lang, too.

I took an unconventional path to the academy, beginning in corporate practice and earning graduate degrees while wrestling with (and greatly enjoying) the ever-changing dance of working with, and learning from, the publics and organizations I represented. One may say I am a scholarly “mixed bag” with so many areas of disciplinary interest, but my extraordinary colleagues and administrators at Southern Methodist University have provided me a welcomed home to pursue all I find fascinating while leading our efforts to prepare students to be world changers. Saying I have a supportive team on campus and at home does not begin to convey my appreciation to my family, faculty, and staff. I could not possibly do all I do without their constant love and encouragement.

My interdisciplinary background drives my passion for working with authors who bring bold, new ideas to examine and critique public relations practices. For me, the Bled Conference in Slovenia is brain candy, and I’m honored to not only welcome its founders, but also include a number of regular presenters again in this third edition. I am likewise pleased that some of the new Ph.Ds. included in the first edition now have their graduate students contributing to the third edition. I feel like a student ← xi | xii → myself and am surprised and flattered when graduate students approach me at conferences with the level of deference I still hold for my mentors.

Every page in this edition delivers entirely new content not found in previous editions. I offer as introduction a succinct overview of new media research from a handful of public relations journals, focusing on work that has been done since the second edition was published in 2012 and commenting on the types of studies I expect (and hope) to see in coming years. As with the first two editions, readers will delve early in the text into emerging ideas filled with intrigue and promise. It is a special privilege for me to offer them in this book, and then watch them develop in journal and conference venues hereafter. An array of corporate and nonprofit chapters is offered, as are two important entries on ethics in new media. Activist and community management insights follow, and the book concludes with modern perspectives on crisis management and response in an increasingly digital world.

I wish you well in your own research endeavors and trust this edition will help advance your thinking along the way.

Sandra Duhé
August 2016

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| 3 →


State of the Field

Research Trajectories in New Media and Public Relations

Sandra Duhé

The trail of research investigating the intertwining of media considered “new” and the practice of public relations now dates back 35 years when Chester Burger (1981) wrote how the introduction of technology to the workplace would affect corporate communication. Burger’s (1981) was the first of 380 new media articles published between January 1981 and mid-July 2016 in peer-review journals dedicated to the study of public relations: Public Relations Review, Journal of Public Relations Research, PRism, Public Relations Journal, and Public Relations Inquiry. In the second edition of New Media and Public Relations, I offered a 30-year analysis of new media research included in the first four of these journals (Duhé, 2012a) and have updated that work twice since then (Duhé, 2012b, 2015) alongside other scholars who had similar aims to capture thematic attributes of our long-standing body of new media knowledge (McAllister-Spooner, 2009; Verčič, Verčič, & Sriramesh, 2015 – see also their chapter in this book; Wang, 2015; Ye & Ki, 2012).

Rather than attempt to reference, describe, and categorize the 380 articles published since 1981, I have instead chosen to assess in this chapter the state of new media research trajectories since 2012, essentially picking up where I left off in the second edition of New Media and Public Relations. The aforementioned articles provide more depth for those interested in exploring a broader swath of new media research over time.

The 4.5-year timespan between 2012 and mid-2016 was a period of significant concentration and growth for new media research, in which 203 (or 53%) of the 380 total articles released since 1981 were published. In 2012, a total of 34 new media articles were published across Public Relations Review, Journal of Public Relations Research, PRism, Public Relations Journal, and Public Relations Inquiry. In 2015, 60 new media articles were published across these journals, representing a 176% growth rate over the three-year period. At the time of this writing, 21 new media articles have been published across these journals in 2016, with roughly half of the year’s publishing cycle remaining. By “new media,” I mean articles with titles including keywords such as “online,” “digital,” “social media,” “Internet,” and “website,” along with terms referencing specific social media platforms or networking sites. ← 3 | 4 →

Applications articles that focus on how new media are used by organizations in corporate, nonprofit, government/political, crisis/risk, activist, college/university, or healthcare settings have been the most voluminous among emerging media publications since 1981. Between 2012 and 2016, 90 applications articles were published in the previously mentioned journals. Corporate and nonprofit new media applications are among the most frequently investigated in this category, but government/political applications of new media are gaining attention – particularly on the international front – and starting to exceed the number of corporate and nonprofit studies. Since 2012, activist applications articles comprise just 10% of the combined number of corporate, nonprofit, and government/political applications published over the same time period. Healthcare applications had a later start in the literature but are gaining scholarly attention in recent years.

Examples of applications studies include McCorkindale and Morgoch’s (2013) assessment of Fortune 500 firms’ readiness for mobile websites; Lovejoy, Waters, and Saxton’s (2012) study of Twitter use among nonprofits; Graham’s (2014) look at social media’s effect on local government relations; Adi’s (2015) study of how Occupy movement protestors used digital media; and Guidry, Zhang, Jin, and Parrish’s (2016) examination of how depression is portrayed on Pinterest.

Perceptions articles are a close second in number (with 74 articles published between 2012 and 2016) to applications studies and address how practitioners, consumers, college students, journalists, and bloggers think about and respond to new media. Practitioner use of new media, as well as job status effects related to emerging media, has been steadily popular over time, but the focus on consumer perceptions of new media use as they relate to crises, politics, and health has exploded in recent years, with 41 related studies published since 2012. The number of studies focused on college student, journalist, and blogger perceptions pale in comparison, totaling just eight over the same publishing time period.

Examples of perceptions studies include Wright and Hinson’s (2015) long-running series of how practitioners are using social and emerging media, along with consumer perception studies related to the likelihood of consumers complying with recall messages on social media (Freberg, 2012), voter trust garnered online by 2012 U.S. presidential campaigns (Painter, 2015), and elderly views of digital healthcare (Sanders, Sánchez Valle, Viñaras, & Llorente, 2015).

Concerns articles address the risk, legal, and ethical implications of new and emerging media use and are few in number across the five public relations journals studied in this analysis. No risk-specific articles were identified during the 2012–2016 publishing cycle, and only two articles related to legal concerns were published in the same time period. Although only eight articles regarding new media ethics were identified across all 380 articles (1981–2016), five of the eight were published since 2012, indicating growing interest in an issue central to public relations’ professional standing.

Examples of these concerns articles include Robards’ (2010) explanation of online privacy risks, Myers’ (2015) review of litigation trends in social media ownership, and Toledano and Avidar’s (2016; see also Toledano’s ethics chapter in this book) review of cultural links to public relations ethics.

In 2012, new media studies resounded a familiar theme across years of research: Organizations, whether corporate, nonprofit, or activist, were not realizing the full dialogic potential of digital outlets but instead were using familiar one-way communication tactics in a new, highly interactive territory that eschewed command and control (e.g., see Duhé, 2012a, 2012b; McAllister-Spooner, 2009; Taylor, Kent, & White, 2001; Ye & Ki, 2012). Theoretical development for public relations in a new media environment was also lacking (e.g., see Wang, 2015), leading to heavy (and, for some time, nearly exclusive) reliance on Kent and Taylor’s (1998) dialogic principles for websites as a guide for interacting with publics online.

What struck me while examining the state of new media literature in 2014 was the number of intriguing, promising theoretical contributions that were offered but neither refined nor extended (Duhé, 2015). In fact, there were 21 articles published between 2000 and mid-2014 that I collapsed into an “other” category under theoretical contributions because there was not a better descriptor to ← 4 | 5 → capture these disparate studies. I found their creative range inspiring and their foci indicative of exciting, interdisciplinary thinking. The most successful cases of advancing new media theory, I discovered, are when authors convert their initial thinking into applications studies. Doing so provides a means for operationalizing their variables, testing their frameworks for public relations use, and encouraging other scholars to do the same. A good theory is contagious, but it requires perseverance and frequency to become ingrained in the scholarly nomenclature.

Lo and behold, as I updated my article database through mid-2016 to write this chapter, I found 14 more high-potential theoretical starting points waiting for further development. I list them here in hopes they catch the eye of a graduate student in need of a thesis topic, a scholar eager to break new ground, and/or their originators who just need a bit of encouragement to keep going. Here they are, by year of publication:

Himelboim, Golan, Moon, and Suto’s (2014) proposal of a social network approach to identify formal and informal social mediators on Twitter

Hopkins’ (2014) discussion of the importance of phatic exchanges for the practice of public relations that fulfill a social objective rather than just impart information

Hon’s (2015) development of a digital social advocacy model within the context of online community management

Valentini’s (2015) critical analysis of the presumption that social media have utility for publics, organizations, and public relations

Matei and Bruno’s (2015) argument that contribution inequality on social media is a symptom of social differentiation that can be detected through the lens of social entropy

Seiffert and Nothhaft’s (2015) assertion that an understanding of digital media’s impact on society is incomplete without the analytical inclusion of computer games

Hajtnik, Uglešić, and Živkovič’s (2015) discussion of the need to preserve public relations records on social media using archival guidelines

Plowman, Wakefield, and Winchel’s (2015) proposal and explanation of the term latent diffused publics for social media communication

Demirhan and Cakir-Demirhan’s (2015) study of how social media perpetuate patriarchal discourse and require alternative discourses to challenge dominant power relations

Kent, Sommerfeldt, and Saffer’s (2016) assertion that power in the form of tertius lungens (the third who joins others) is a more appropriate, ethical approach to public relations than many network theories offer

Allagui and Breslow’s (2016) use of the collective case study approach to capture the best practices of social media campaigns

Li’s (2016) introduction and testing of a psychological empowerment framework for a social media context ← 5 | 6 →

Ciszek’s (2016) exploration of the postmodern concept of dissensus for potential application to activist and social media research

Vujnovic and Kruckeberg’s (2016) introduction of the concept of pseudo-transparency to counter organizational attempts to maintain the status quo

As I review the 380 new media articles published since 1981, I am pleased with the recent broadening of inquiry scope and marked enhancements in investigative quality that I have observed. Our new media body of knowledge, although nascent in its theoretical development, offers plentiful opportunities for advancement and refinement, which I hope will continue to incorporate perspectives from a variety of disciplines, cultures, and communities. Our research trajectories will likely retain an affinity for applications and perceptions studies, particularly in the growing areas of government, politics, and health, but we must nurture theoretical frameworks for these analyses in tandem if our work is to have staying, predictive power for the next 35 years of emerging media research.

I would be remiss to leave the impression that the promising studies cited in previous work (Duhé, 2015), this chapter, and throughout this book are a complete accounting of theoretical developments in our field. They are part of a body of work that, thankfully, grows each day in classrooms, workplaces, and laboratories of all sorts around the world under the stewardship of those who are passionate about the free exchange of ideas in society, even with the inevitable imperfections and complexities this essential activity brings. Ours is good and important work.


Adi, A. (2015). Occupy PR: An analysis of online media communications of Occupy Wall Street and Occupy London. Public Relations Review, 41(4), 508–514.

Allagui, I., & Breslow, H. (2016). Social media for public relations: Lessons from four effective cases. Public Relations Review, 42(1), 20–30.

Burger, C. (1981). The edge of the communications revolution. Public Relations Review, 7(2), 3–12.

Ciszek, E. L. (2016). Digital activism: How social media and dissensus inform theory and practice. Public Relations Review, 42(2), 314–321.

Demirhan, K., & Cakir-Demirhan, D. (2015). Gender and politics: Patriarchal discourse on social media. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 308–310.

Duhé, S. (2012a). A thematic analysis of 30 years of public relations literature addressing the potential and pitfalls of new media. In S. Duhé (Ed.), New media and public relations (2nd ed., pp. xiii–xxvi). New York, NY: Peter Lang.

Duhé, S. (2012b, October). Looking back, looking forward: A thematic review of three decades of research in public relations and new media. [An update of Duhé, 2012a.] Paper presented at the Public Relations Society of America International Conference, San Francisco, CA.

Duhé, S. (2015). An overview of new media research in public relations from 1981 to 2014. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 153–169.

Freberg, K. (2012). Intention to comply with crisis messages communicated via social media. Public Relations Review, 38(3), 416–421.

Graham, M. W. (2014). Government communication in the digital age: Social media’s effect on local government public relations. Public Relations Inquiry, 3(3), 361–376.

Guidry, J., Zhang, Y., Jin, Y., & Parrish, C. (2016). Portrayals of depression on Pinterest and why public relations practitioners should care. Public Relations Review, 42(1), 232–236.

Hajtnik, T., Uglešić, K., & Živkovič, A. (2015). Acquisition and preservation of authentic information in a digital age. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 254–271.

Himelboim, I., Golan, G. J., Moon, B. B., & Suto, R. J. (2014). A social networks approach to public relations on Twitter: Social mediators and mediated public relations. Journal of Public Relations Research, 26(4), 359–379.

Hon, L. (2015). Digital social advocacy in the Justice for Trayvon campaign. Journal of Public Relations Research, 27(4), 299–321.

Hopkins, K. (2014). The phatic nature of the online social sphere: Implications for public relations. PRism, 11(2). Retrieved from http://www.prismjournal.org/fileadmin/11_2/Hopkins.pdf


XII, 336
ISBN (Softcover)
Publication date
2017 (July)
Soziokultureller Wandel Public relation New media Internet Mediated relationship Web Relationship management Online control Media creation advocacy Neue Medien
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. XII, 336 pp., num. fig. and tables

Biographical notes

Sandra C. Duhé (Volume editor)

Sandra Duhé, PhD, MBA, is Associate Professor, Director of Public Relations, and Chair of the Division of Corporate Communication and Public Affairs at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas. Her extensive corporate background in brand management, crisis response, community outreach, and media relations combined with degrees in business, communication, applied economics, and political economy inform her research and consulting practice. She is an award-winning educator and a member of the PRSA College of Fellows and the Arthur W. Page Society.


Title: New Media and Public Relations – Third Edition
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