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New Media and Public Relations

Fitch, K. (2009) New Media and Public Relations. In: Chia, J. and Synnott, G., (eds.) An introduction to public relations : from theory to practice. Oxford University Press, South Melbourne, pp. 333-356.


The ways we communicate have fundamentally changed in the last decade. Advances in digital technology have engendered a shift in communication patterns characterised by the shift from the ‘one to many’ broadcast paradigm of mass media to the ‘network paradigm’ of ‘many to many’ communication. Much writing about new media and public relations celebrates the interactivity or conversational nature of new media, which is considered to have the potential to develop relationships and build communities (see, for example, Levine et al. 1999; Holtz 2002).This shift has major implications for traditional public relations practices and concepts.

Not surprisingly, new media is cited by practitioners and scholars as one of the biggest challenges facing the public relations profession (Dougall et al. 2001; Weaver et al. 2003; Zefass et aI. 2007). As Katie Delahaye Paine writes: ‘The implications for twenty-first century practitioners are all at once far reaching, terrifying and enormously exciting’ (Paine 2007: xiv).

Public relations is concerned with either the management of relationships between publics and organisations or the management of communication between publics and organisations. The advent of the internet causes us to rethink the nature of these relationships and communication. Some academics and practitioners (Gregory 2004; Duhé 2007) are beginning to recognise the potentially transformative impact of technology on public relations and its important contribution to the ability of organisations to be socially responsive.

Item Type: Book Chapter
Murdoch Affiliation(s): School of Media, Communication and Culture
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Copyright: © Joy Chia and Gae Synnott 2009
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