1st Edition

Social Media and Public Relations Fake Friends and Powerful Publics

    234 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    234 Pages 1 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    Social media is having a profound, but not yet fully understood impact on public relations. In the 24/7 world of perpetually connected publics, will public relations function as a dark art that spins (or tweets) self-interested variations of the truth for credulous audiences? Or does the full glare of the internet and the increasing expectations of powerful publics motivate it to more honestly engage to serve the public interest?

    The purpose of this book is to examine the role of PR by exploring the myriad ways that social media is reshaping its conceptualization, strategies, and tactics. In particular, it explores the dichotomies of fake and authentic, powerless and powerful, meaningless and meaningful. It exposes transgressions committed by practitioners—the paucity of digital literacy, the lack of understanding of the norms of social media, naivety about corporate identity risks, and the overarching emphasis on spin over authentic engagement. But it also shows the power that closely networked social media users have to insert information and opinion into discussions and force "false PR friends" to be less so.

    This timely, challenging, and fascinating book will be of interest to all students, researchers, and practitioners in Public Relations, Media, and Communication Studies.

    Winner of the 2016 NCA PRIDE Award for best book

    1. Identify the Problems: Social media and public relations  2. “Don’t Do Anything Stupid”: Social media affordances, policies and governance agendas  3. Create Yourself: Corporate identity for interconnected publics  4. Speak the Truth: Transparency, power/knowledge and authenticity  5. Engage: One-way, two-way, and every-way  6. Connecting with Creativity: Worlds, identities, publics as content production and co-production  7. Activist Power: Critical public engagement  8. Protect Yourself: Issues of privacy and regulation  9. Know Your Risks: A collective orientation  10. Navigate the Issues: Situating power/knowledge within public relations  11. Public and Private Clashes and Collaborative Dialogue  12. Conclusion


    Judy Motion is Professor of Communication at the University of New South Wales, Australia.

    Robert L. Heath is Professor Emeritus at the University of Houston, USA.

    Shirley Leitch is Dean and Professor of Communication at the Australian National University, Australia.



    'Motion, Heath, and Leitch have done excellent work in the past and this is no exception. The area of social media and public relations has long needed an authoritative and critical text and Social Media and Public Relations fills that void.' - Michael L. Kent, Professor, University of Tennessee Knoxville, USA

    'Social Media and Public Relations provides an insight into a growing area of focus in social media while tying in emerging trends and historical perspectives in public relations. This book helps explore the current issues, risks, opportunities, and challenges involving social media from the audience perspective, which can be applicable for practitioners and researchers – adding a needed area of discussion in social media research and practice within public relations.' - Karen Freberg, Assistant Professor, University of Louisville, USA

    'Social Media and Public Relations disrupts the notion that social media has ameliorated public relations. Motion, Heath, and Leitch question the relationship between public relations and social media to reveal the complexities and tensions between social media cultures and the promotion-oriented goals of public relations. Sharply written and scrupulously documented, this is a must read for scholars, practitioners, and students interested in the future of social media in public relations.' - Adam J. Saffer, Assistant Professor, The University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, USA