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Social Media and its contextual impact on Public Affairs. Ghent Tuesday March 20 2012. Who am I?. Philip Young University of Sunderland, UK @mediations #IPGhent12 What shall we do?. 9.00 10.30

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Presentation Transcript
who am i
Who am I?
  • Philip Young
  • University of Sunderland, UK
  • @mediations #IPGhent12
what shall we do
What shall we do?
  • 9.00 10.30
  • What do we mean by social media in a public affairs context?
  • 11.00 Case studies
  • 12.30 Limitations: public and private space
  • 1-2 Lunch
  • 2-4 Student groups research good examples and suggest improvements
  • 4.00 Your turn: groups present ideas for improving social media engagement for named organisation
  • 5.30 Conclusions
part 1 the battleground
Part 1 The Battleground
  • Communication cannot make the EU function better, nor can solve its economic, social, political and environmental problems. However it helps in raising awareness and mobilising people
  • Valentini; C and Nesti, G (2010) Public Communication in the European Union
part 1 the battleground1
Part 1 The Battleground
  • Key concepts for public affairs
  • Access (equality, language)
  • Engagement (it’s boring)
  • Trust (it’s politics)
  • Legitimacy (I’m English/ Greek/ etc)
role of social media
Role of social media
  • Communication canbe a leading tool forenhancingidentity, integration, respect anddemocracy….
  • Communication cancreate even emotionsand attachments
  • Communication can help the EU tounderstanditscitizens … emotionally (ibidxiii)
bye bye time geography
Bye bye Time + Geography
  • PR is about Relationship Management, the interaction between organisation and stakeholders/audiences
  • Increasingly that relationship is shaped in an environment where the linkages between stakeholders have become heightened to an unprecedented degree.
online is everywhere
Online is everywhere
  • Online isn’t the ONLY way to reach stakeholders...
  • ... But online is part of all PR
  • Online is part of the very fabric of all PR activity
little words big reputation
Little words – big reputation
  • But the shift has been in the visibility, the connectivity of those relationships.
  • We can see the connections, we can aggregate them in what we can call reputation.
platforms channels1
Platforms & Channels

news comms in1990
News comms in1990
  • News from TV or once/ twice a day newspapers
  • Landline telephones
  • First PCs – not common, not easy!
  • First mobiles – big, heavy, expensive
  • Business communications by letter/ Fax
  • Photographer develop film in darkrooms
  • People go to libraries to find information in encyclopaedias
key terms
Key terms

What are the implications in terms of

  • Reach
  • Immediacy
  • Interaction
  • Aggregation
  • Porosity
  • Transparency
  • Curation
  • Abundance
  • Physical distance has no meaning
  • Organisations can talk to anyone


  • Anyone can listen/ engage/ comment
  • Very hard to say one thing in one market and something different elsewhere
  • -> Danger of DISSONANCE (conflict)
the world is flat
The World is Flat

Reach means

  • Everything you do is global!!!
  • Social media knows no boundaries
  • You can’t say one thing to one audience, one country, one culture and something different to another….
  • You can’t control who hears your messages
immediacy timelessness
Immediacy (Timelessness)
  • Social media is instant and always-on
  • There is no news cycle any more
  • Reputation evolves in real time
  • Thinking time has vanished
  • News control (embargos etc) more challenging
  • The narrative structure of ‘messaging’ is being redefined
  • Users access multiple sources concurrently
  • Almost impossible to control the sequencing of information/ revelation
  • The creation, display and management of content in a consistent manner to encourage a desired understanding of an organisation





cheap quick and popular
Cheap, quick and popular
  • Flip in ‘vector of communication’ means loss of ‘control’ for organisations/ institutions
  • First years (still now?) characterised by fear of entering an unruly domain
  • BUT: Did organisations/institutions ever have ‘control’ over communications?
  • Over reputation?
hearing more voices
Hearing more voices?
  • How does social media change Political economy models?
  • Implications of 'universal' (???) access, level playing field; low entry threshold means anyone can have a voice.
  • Does this mean a greater plurality of voices - or is it still elites talking to elites (bloggers as a digital chattering class)?
implications public sphere
Implications: Public Sphere
  • We might examine the transmission of messages: increased role of mediation; mass media to micromedia, implications of shared/ fragmented experience
  • What are the implications for Public Sphere (Habermas) and Social Space?
public sphere inquiry trands
Public Sphere: Inquirytrands
  • Possibility of creating a supranational public sphere
  • Empiricalstudy of transnational media
  • Europeanisation of national public spheres
  • NB C&V arguethattheory of public sphere has anintrinsic bias tonation state model
conclusions the new pr reality
Conclusions: The new (PR) reality
  • Command and control models of communication are dead
  • Every institution/ initiative has an online reputation/ legitimacy
  • Citizens are shaping (online) reputation/legitimacy (trust) right now
  • They are using social media – but how?
  • We are all connected, whenever we want and wherever we are
who doesn t use the internet
Who doesn’t use the Internet?

9 million people

One in Seven

of UK population

what can sm contribute
Whatcan SM contribute?
  • The use of new media is believedto have the potentialtoincrease levels of trust andsolidaritywhich are prerequisites of politicalandcivic engagement
  • C&N 2010:13
how can public bodies use sm
How can public bodies use SM?
  • Dissemination of news
  • Archive/ library/ information banks
  • Can create communities/ forums for Public Consultation
  • Push vs Pull channels
  • Why do people want to engage?
  • Is it fair to privilege the digitally literate?
  • Drawing on Scharpfinput-output framing of legitimacyC&N suggestcommunication
  • Allowsforelectoralparticipationbyimprovingcitizenknowledge
  • Enablesparticipation in policy making bygiving information
  • Promotespolitical actors responsivenessbyimprovingknowledgeabouttheirpreferences
  • Focuses accountability towardscitizens
public consultation
Public Consultation
  • Tomkova, J Toward a ‘direct dialogue’: evaluation of public eConsultationsinthe EU context (in C&N)
  • Constituteinteractive ‘telluswhatyouthink’ participatory platforms thatenableordinarycitizensandcivic actors topurposivelyassemble input, deliberate, informandinfluence policy anddecision-making (279)
public econsultation
Public eConsultation
  • Theycansimultaneouslyincorporatevertical (citizentogovt) as well as horizontal (citizentocitizen) interactions
  • Difference is thatthey are (usually) initiated/ fundedbypoliticalinstitutions
  • May have set duration
five types tomkova
Five types (Tomkova)
  • Question & Answerdiscussion forum
  • Polls snapshots, measurement
  • Deliberative polls panel consultations
  • Petitionsinitiatedbottom up bycitizens
  • Editorialcitizens, representatives of civil society invitedtocomment more formally on specific policy documents
normative premises
  • TransparencyandAccountability
  • Legitimacyandbetter policy outcomes
  • Deliberation (Habermas, Dryzek)
    • Through deliberation the circulation of ofconflictualpreferenceswith society motivatedbygenuine (ratherthanexternallyimposed) consensus formationbased on moral, rational, practical jufgmentandmutual respect is more likelyachieved
civic education
  • Advantages of doing public consultationinclude:
  • Convenience, expediencyand flexibility
  • Enhancedinteractivity
  • Faceless interface – eliminatesvisualsocialclueswhichconstrain face to face
2 case studies
2: Case Studies
  • Germany
  • Steffen Seibert @RegSprecher tweets (but journalists don’t approve)
  • But not @AngelaMerkell (too busy! Doesn’t want ghosted tweets)
eu commission
EU Commission

have your say
Have your say
@ sweden
  • Sweden lets its citizens run Twitter account
  • Sheep farmer tweets for Sweden
  • Sweden is tweeting to the world, and this week she is Hanna, "just your average lesbian truck driver“
  • Authenticity?
uk epetitions
UK ePetitions
  • Grant a pardon for Alan Turing
  • Britain wants referendum to leave EU
  • Responsible department: Foreign and Commonwealth Office
  • The Daily Express is crusading to end Britain’s membership of the European Union. We want the Government to arrange for an orderly withdrawal of the United Kingdom from the EU either by means of an enabling referendum or directly so that the British people are once again placed in charge of their own political destiny. We would like this matter debated in parliament
uk regional government
UK regional government
  • Many UK councils still not using social media
  • Coventry City Council came out as the council with the highest number of followers, members and friends on Facebook and Twitter, with 24,080.
  • Socitm's Better Connected research showed that Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council, which has more than 20 Twitter accounts, posted the most tweets of any council.
better connected socitm findings
Better Connected: Socitm findings
  • Task Achieving standard
  • Find out school term dates 80%
  • Pay council tax 71%
  • Find records office opening times (counties only) 70%
  • Apply for council job 66%
  • Find rubbish collection days 63%
  • Renew library book 51%
  • Find winter gritting routes 48%
  • Find out about getting help at home 43%
  • Find opening times for local swimming pool 38%
  • Apply for dog licence (N Ireland only) 35%
  • Find out how to register death ( N Ireland only) 35%
  • Object to a planning application 33%
  • Register a food business (N Ireland only) 23%
sent to coventry
Sent to Coventry

gm police 24 hour tweet
GM Police 24 hour Tweet
  • Police force uses Twitter to show daily load
  • GMP 24: Data analysis of police tweets
why don t they
Why don’t they?
  • Councils made poor use of IT to update public about strike
  • Survey shows that most councils made little use of the web, Twitter or Facebook to update services users about effects of the public sector strike
return on investment
Return on Investment?
  • Social media traffic is quantifiable
  • Can count the clicks, views, likes and downloads
  • Can conduct content/ sentiment analysis
  • Makes complaining easier! Negative bias?
3 limitations privacy
3: Limitations: Privacy
  • What is appropriate engagement?
  • Can a government be your friend?
  • Ethics of social media engagement
the end of privacy
The End of privacy?
  • Scott McNeally, CEO of Sun MicroSystems, quoted in Zittrain
  • Asked whether a new Sun technology to link consumer devices had any built in privacy protection…
  • “You have zero privacy anyway. Get over it.”
clicking away our rights
Clicking away our rights?
  • “Every time we click on the internet we are leaving data trails that new technologies can monitor and analyse to construct maps of our minds.”
  • Macnamara, J (2010) The 21st Century Media (R)evolution New York: Peter Lang
the battleground
The Battleground
  • Social Media doesn’t change what is right and wrong.
  • But, think about ....
  • Privacy + Anonymity + Intrusion
  • Truthfulness + Honesty
the battleground1
The Battleground
  • “Social media brings greater possibilities for interaction with wider audience, with different expectations, norms and vulnerabilities.
  • “The implications of these changes need to be considered in terms of managing both internal and external relationships.”
  • Phillips & Young, 2009:
the battleground2
The Battleground
  • Although actions motivated simply by the fear of getting caught are not intrinsically moral, it is inescapable that the transparency and porosity inherent in the internet-mediated environment will force a lot of people to think a lot more clearly about the ethical implications their actions.
  • Phillips & Young, 2009:
in an ideal world
In an ideal world...
  • Public relations has a duty to address such issues, and by doing so may well improve not only public perception of its activities but also develop practices which allow it to operate in a more effective manner.
  • Phillips & Young, 2009
big help or big brother
Big help... Or Big Brother?
  • “Some of Britain’s biggest firms were last night accused of ‘spying’ on their customers after they admitted ‘listening in’ on disgruntled conversations on the internet.
  • The companies include BT, which uses specially developed software to scan for negative comments about it on websites including Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.
  • Budget airline easyJet, mobile-phone retailer Carphone Warehouse and banks including Lloyds TSB are also monitoring social networking sites to see what is being said about them.
danger to democracy
Danger to democracy?
  • “In this hyperscrutinised society people may moderate themselves instead of expressing their true opinion.”
  • “Even the use of ‘public and private to describe ourselves is not subtle enough to express the kind of privacy we might want.”
  • (Zittrain, 2008)
winners and losers
Winners and losers?
  • (With privacy) the public is variously creator beneficiary and victim of the free for all.”
  • “People may make rational decisions about sharing their personal information in the short-term but underestimate what might happen to that information as it is indexed, re-used and repurposed by strangers.”
  • Zittrain
eu privacy policy
EU privacy policy
  • EU to force social network sites to enhance privacy
  • 'Right to be forgotten' would ensure users of Facebook and other sites could completely erase personal data
what can sm contribute1
Whatcan SM contribute?
  • The use of new media is believedto have the potentialtoincrease levels of trust andsolidaritywhich are prerequisites of politicalandcivic engagement
  • C&N 2010:13
3 your task in small groups
3 Your task – in small groups
  • Examine the use of social media to meet a communication objective for a public affairs body of your choice
  • Be specific and focused
  • How well does the institution use social media to meet stated objectives
  • How could it be improved