Week 12's reading centralizes on new media in Public Relations. "New Media & Public Relations" by Kate Fitch.
I can relate better to this reading, somehow. So, let's get on with it.
I was thinking back on how our ancestors used to communicate with one another, especially if they were far away from each other, they would pass the message to another person by message carrier pigeons, then thanks to Alexander Graham Bell, they had telephones. And postage service which would most likely take eons to get their postcards or letter to another part of the world. Now, we have the internet, we can do almost anything and everything online, pretty much instantaneously, as Turkle (1997) writes in her book; Life on The Screen.
One section of this reading caught me, and that was on whether advancement in communication technology could be of better use in PR. Gregory (2004 cited in Fitch, 2009) discovered that there were 2 different view points on this issue. And after reading this, I can conclude that it is a debatable point.
Firstly, she mentions of one view point that technology advancement in communication in line with PR, is that this new form of communication is defined as yet another communication method or as a better form of current communication methods. Let's just take for example the telephone, making international calls can be costly, especially for an international student like me, but with the internet and MSN or Yahoo Messenger, I can call up my parents and they can even see me with the video call function, and it is not as costly as an international call.
Here, Gregory quotes survey works from the various communication scholars, coming to say that the internet has the potential of promoting and facilitating two-way communication. But, this potential cannot be made possible.
In fact, I agree with this point. At most times, websites are being set up to only disseminate information such as what the company is about, company policies, achievements- to ensure that the public knows what they are supposed to know. Often, the ability of the new media to engage the audience is not put to good use. Perhaps they might have a "Contact Us" section; most likely for you to leave comments or a message in hope that they will get back you, but at the end of the day, it comes down to the company's personnel to decide whether they want to reply you or not. Thus, new media is not being used to promote two-way communication as it can encourage dialogue and discussion.
Another school of thought feels that technology has advanced and it has changed how companies communicate with the public. Reading on, Fitch (2009), suggests that McDonald's is a good example to this. Try typing in McDonald's in Google- see what you find? I actually did this "experiment" and... Eureka? I posed it as a question because almost anything and everything that has the label McDonald's can be found online. Even a WikiPedia entry, and even Youtube Videos are found too. While new media can assist in promoting dialogue and discussion, it can also mean harm for the company, where the organisation's private information is also disseminated out. Companies start getting too "leaky" as Fawkes & Gregory (2000 cited in Fitch 2009) with their company's information- where no control is present over the information accessibility.
In my opinion, I think organisations should encourage two-way communication with the public with forums and discussions, and at the same time, the organisation also needs to be mindful of what information they put out to the public.
That ends my response to Week 12's reading.