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Public Relations, Values and Cultural Identity

Edited By Enric Ordeix, Valérie Carayol and Ralph Tench

As organisations seek legitimacy in a fast-moving, interconnected and changing world, how do public relations help them to manage their identity, responsibilities and impact on society? In a more interactive society, organisations need to align their actions with social demands and values. If the main role of public relations is to build trust and influence opinionmakers, media, the public and the political agenda, what are the constraints and limitations at play here, and what is the impact on ethical principles?
The published research shows the profession is facing crucial changes: the existence of new organisational structures better aligned with social demands; the emergence of new techniques for interacting with organisations in a more trustworthy manner; and growing pressure by social groups acting both for and against particular social values, ideas and identities.
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Panacea for the Public Sphere? The Use of Social Media in the Public Sector in the UK


Panacea for the Public Sphere?

The Use of Social Media in the Public Sector in the UK

Sarah Justine WILLIAMS

The University of Wolverhampton, United Kingdom

The public sector in the UK is under considerable pressure from central Government cuts to local budgets, with local councils forced to ‘strike an increasingly difficult balance’ between tax rises and service cuts, according to the Chartered Institute of Public Finance and Accountancy’s director of policy, Ian Carruthers (Guardian Online, 28 February, 2013). The key drivers for change are partly economic, and partly ideological. As Hall points out, the Conservative governments of 1979-97 encouraged ‘local government to contract out a wide range of services to nonprofit organisations in order to reduce the size of the state sector’ (2002: 42) so the current reduction of the public sector can be seen against this ideological backdrop.

Social media are often viewed as the ‘panacea’ to these public sector problems, since it presents a cost-effective alternative to traditional media relations. However social media are not only an efficient broadcast tool; as Solis & Breakenridge (2009) argue, social media empowers audiences and enables people to be both influenced and to influence, which represents a shift in the traditional influence paradigm.

Social media are increasingly being used by public sector organizations in the UK to engage with communities and create dialogue between organizations and their service users. From smartphone applications to Twitter outreach, some public sector bodies...

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