Perceived benefits and challenges regarding the use of social media for public relations activities
Keywords:Social media, Public relations, Strategic communication, Perception, Digital communication
Social media holds important implications for the public relations profession. Researchers have identified many benefits that could be reaped when social media is used by organisations for public relations activities. However, there also are many challenges. According to Phillips’ model of digital communication tools there are four variables associated with the benefits and challenges of using social media. This study investigated, by means of an online questionnaire survey, the perceptions of a randomly drawn sample of Gauteng-based public relations practitioners regarding such challenges and benefits. The results revealed that Twitter and Facebook are the most preferred social media for engaging with stakeholders. Further, it was found that when social media is used for purposes of public relations actions, public relations practitioners tend to perceive the possible social media benefits associated with the four variables to be more salient (or at least equally salient) than the possible social media challenges associated with the variables of this model.