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The 21st Century Media (R)evolution

Emergent Communication Practices, Second Edition

Jim Macnamara

The emergence of what are called ‘new media’ and ‘social media’ is one of the most discussed topics in contemporary societies. Because media and public communication are mostly analyzed within particular theoretical frameworks and within specific disciplinary fields, polarized views have been created with cyberoptimists and celebrants on one side and cyberpessimists and skeptics on the other. Thus we lack an understanding of the interdependencies and convergence between disciplines and practices.
The second edition of this book expertly synthesizes competing theories and disciplinary viewpoints and examines the latest data, including international research from fast-growing markets such as China, to provide a comprehensive, holistic view of the twenty-first century media (r)evolution. Dr. Macnamara argues that the key changes are located in practices rather than technologies and that public communication practices are emergent in highly significant ways.
Engaging and accessible, this book is essential reading for scholars and professionals in media and communication and an invaluable text for courses in media studies, journalism, advertising, public relations and organisational and political communication.
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Chapter 10. The Future of Public Relations


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Of all professional practices related to media and public communication, public relations and the largely synonymous practices referred to as corporate communication and communication management should be compatible with and well-adapted to the use of social media, as will be shown in this chapter. However, that is not to say they are. In fact, some concerning surprises emerge from research. The purpose of this chapter is not to offer a comprehensive description or analysis of public relations—commonly abbreviated to PR, as will be done here for brevity—as there are many textbooks and practical manuals available (e.g., Broom, 2009; Duhé, 2008; L. Grunig, J. Grunig & Dozier, 2002; L’Etang, 2008; Macnamara, 2012a; Wilcox & Cameron, 2010). This chapter briefly describes the main models of PR practice and reports research on how interactive social media are deployed as part of contemporary PR. Based on this analysis of what PR says it does and what it actually does, future directions for PR are identified.

PR can be categorized into three broad types to serve as a useful taxonomy for this analysis. One is the largely pejorative understanding of PR that frames discourse in journalism, as discussed in Chapter 7, as well as in political science. This sees PR as primarily oriented to publicity-seeking in mass media, often using PR ‘stunts,’ distributing ‘spin’ and being closely associated with propaganda. For ← 367 | 368 → the sake of simplicity,...

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