Sharkey’s Machine

Article Review on How Social Media is Changing
October 23, 2008, 10:54 am
Filed under: PRCA 3331 | Tags: , , ,

I reviewed an article in the Public Relations Journal addressing the topic that much of my Corporate PR class has covered this semester, social media. In “How Blogs and Social Media are Changing Public Relations and the Way it is Practiced,” Wright and Hinson (2008) address how PR practitioners perceive social media and blogs, and how the PR industry is affected by this relatively new form of communication. The article is a continuation of a three-year-long international survey; it compares and contrasts how PR practitioners’ beliefs have changed over this time period on key aspects of social media (including blogging); such as: effectiveness, influence, and the ethical concerns of employee blogging (Wright, Hinson, 2008).


What I Took Away:


 A greater number of public relations professionals are evolving their opinion of social media and blogs in a positive direction. Over the course of the entire study, there has been a steady statistical increase in the number of PR practitioners who view blogs as: as effective form of corporate communication, an enhancement to the public relations practice, and a compliment to mainstream traditional news media (Wright, Hinson, 2008). It is my opinion that tone of general business, including PR, towards blogs is shifting from what was once a novel form of grass-root type communication to now a necessary and primary form of direct public-to-corporate communication. The statistical data of Wright and Hinson’s (2008) article seems to concur with this observation.


The Unexpected:


I had always viewed blogs from the positive perspective, as a necessary device in the PR toolbox. Until reading this article, I had not considered how an increase in blogs and social media can over-saturate the communication pool; watering down the direct specific communication a PR practitioner might be trying to convey with the semi-relevant or antagonistic counterpoints of similar social media produced by any Joe Schmoe. In the open-ended survey questions some PR practitioners “pointed out these new media create additional information channels thus making it more difficult for those who practice public relations to help organizations manage and control information dissemination” (Wright, Hinson, 2008, p 19). The early problems the traditional news industry had with blogs (credibility and openness to authorship); ironically, are now being felt and resisted by the same of the early blogosphere pioneers, PR practitioners.


Thank you, Sir. May I Have Another?:


A major aspect of this article dealt with ethical appropriateness of employees blogging about the organization that employs them.  There has been a shift in the opinion of PR practitioners over the three year period of how appropriate it is for an employee to make negative blog posts about their respective organization; from more tolerable to less tolerable (Wright, Hinson, 2008). There has also been inversion of the opinion how appropriate it is for an organization to monitor its employee’s blogs, from more tolerable to less tolerable (Wright, Hinson, 2008). I think both these statistical derivements are loosely correlated to one another, and to the growing ubiquity of blogs. I think with the growing number people posting blogs it reasonable to assume that sentiments about blogs are something to the affect that: “Everyone has one; so it is futile and in bad taste to defame one’s own firm. However, it is somewhat of an invasion of privacy for your firm to monitor and censor your blog post.” I would like to see this study continued for several years to see if the trends of attitude and ubiquity continue.


How This Research Affects My Research:


In my upcoming research project on the corporate communication strategy of The North Face, Incorporated; the research provided by Wright and Hinson (2008) will prove vital as a concurring secondary resource for establishing the importance of the Groundswell affect as effective and essential form of communication. The importance of social media and blogging in the Groundswell affect can not be overstated. The research can also be important in establishing support for use of the Grunig and Hunt’s two-way symmetric model of PR, which is almost necessary to be effective in today dynamic media market.


Wright and Hinson (2008) articulated a great article on how social media is changing and how it affects corporate communication strategies. I think the article, although objective in tone, is highly persuasive with data to encourage more blogging to occur between the companies and consumers. I would recommend anyone who has doubts about the utility of social media to read this article. Until next time, think good thoughts.  


– Donovan Sharkey




Wright, D.K., & Hinson, M.D. (2008). How Blogs and Social Media are Changing Public Relations and the Way it is Practiced. Public Relations Journal, 2, Retrieved October 23, 2008, from


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