Online Public Relations

May 27, 2012

Controlled or Uncontrolled Media?

Filed under: Online Public Relations @ 11:20 am and

In this post, I would like to comment on the selection of online platforms as part of a public relations plan.  There are many media tactics and they are divided into categories because of their features.  They can be internal versus external, public versus private and what I will be focusing on today is controlled versus uncontrolled media.  This category is based on how much control the organisation has over the media.   By definition, controlled media are ones that the organisations get to determine what content to be released.  Organisations can also have control over the timing, the distribution and the presentation of the content being released.  Some examples include newspaper, brochures and websites.  Uncontrolled media, on the other hand, are ones that the organisations cannot keep track of.  Some public relations practitioners argue that website and other social media can fall into both groups and practitioners who decided to use these media tactics should be careful of the information released.

Why do public relations practitioners say that online platforms can be both controlled and uncontrolled media?  For example, blogs.  The official blog of an organisation is no doubt going to be controlled media because the organisation controls what goes on to the blog.  It has high credibility and reliability.  Now imagine the organisation releases some breaking news on the blog and a third person writes about the news on his or her own blog.  The third person’s blog becomes uncontrolled by the organisation.  It is indeed free public relations, but the credibility and reliability is low.

When designing a public relations plan, practitioners need to be mindful that media options are dynamic.  They are never static.  For instance, TV advertisements seemed to have defeated radio advertisements because it has sound and images, but radio advertising is still a powerful communication tactic for specific target audiences.  Likewise, the evolution of social media also gives public relations practitioners headache.  Dorie Clark, in her article ‘What’s Next in Social Media’, claimed that a lot of tweeting teens are abandoning the long-form of blogs.  Consequently, public relations practitioners who want to use the traditional kind of blogs as a mean to communicate to teenagers and young adult need to consider if it is actually the most effective way.


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