Social Media and Public Relations

Fake Friends and Powerful Publics

By Judy Motion, Robert L. Heath, Shirley Leitch

© 2016 – Routledge

224 pages | 1 B/W Illus.

Purchasing Options:
Hardback: 9780415856263
pub: 2015-11-17
US Dollars$160.00

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About the Book

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.


'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

Table of Contents

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

About the Authors

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.

About the Series

Routledge New Directions in Public Relations & Communication Research

Present academic thinking about PR and related communications reflects an unprecedented expansion and ferment in the discipline and many scholars believe that a radical ‘turn’ should be explored. Routledge New Directions in PR & Communication Research is a new forum for books of original research in this area. Its remit is to publish critical and challenging responses to continuities and fractures in contemporary PR thinking and practice, and its contested role in market-orientated, capitalist, liberal democracies around the world. The series reflects the multiple and inter-disciplinary forms PR takes in a post-Grunigian world; the expanding roles which it performs, and the increasing number of countries in which it is practised. Offering a new forum to debate these changes with peers around the world, it invites contributions from both established and new academics researching and teaching in these expanding fields of study.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
BUSINESS & ECONOMICS / Public Relations
LANGUAGE ARTS & DISCIPLINES / Communication Studies