PR and social media essay (Choose one of the topic) Examine and Analyse the communication strategies.
Social media for awareness and action
Question 2: Social media for awareness and action.
Social media plays a key role in public relations. PR is the practice of spreading information between individuals or organizations and the public. PR includes organizations or individuals gaining contact to the public using issues of community interest as well as news articles that don’t necessitate straight payment. Public relations experts establish and uphold associations with an establishment’s target addressees, the media as well as other opinion influential (Smith, 2012). United Nations Education, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is an association that has highly depended on social media as a public relation tool. Social media has proven to be very effective in passing information to a large number of audience in a short span of time. This essay seeks to examine how UNESCO employs public relation tools to communicate to the public about education issues, determine the success of the strategy and explain the theory behind the formulation of public opinion, showing the significance of social media in relation to traditional media.
UNESCO’s communication activities consist a spread array of workforce, offices as well as priorities, in contrast to conditions of budgetary shortages. In the importance of education campaign, UNESCO uses different tool of public relations to communicate the message and persuade the public to embrace education. In the past, communication has not been easy for UNESCO it has been very expensive spending about 12.6 million per annum on community information and reflective activities, 12.1 million in direct staff cost and an estimated 0.1 million in activity cost during communication. Other activities relating to communication are program publications and other printed materials with a cost estimated at 18 million and program meetings and conferences estimated at 7 million (UNESCO, 2016). More is needed to be done to strategically manage communication. The was need to update communication strategies in UNESCO as well as introduce a better public relation tool that was cheaper, fast and effective. Effective communication in UNESCO is a key issue as it serves to project organizations value and reputation. Communication also supports mobilization of resources and rise programmatic effect on importance of education. UNESCO uses different communication channels which include; press, websites, social media, printed material among others (Stephens & Malone, 2010).
UNESCO has evolved communication over time by better management of publication as well as increased public access to UNESCO’s internet. The organization has also increased the use of social media platforms like Twitter and Facebook which has proved to be an effective mode of communication in the campaign of importance of formal education for all by the organization. Social media communication has proven successful in the organization over time. This is because important information on the importance of formal education for all campaign by the organization is received by a large number of audience in a very short time through the use of social media platforms. For example, currently on twitter, UNESCO has about 1.13 followers and about 368216 likes on Facebook (UNESCO, 2016). This makes it easy for all the people on the site to receive the information immediately it has been tweeted. For instance, taking a few tweets on the importance of formal education for all on Twitter,
«Education is the key to breaking the cycle of violence» tweeted in 23rd May.
The tweet currently has about 253 retweets and 269 likes proving that many people have read the message and more will continue getting the same message with time (UNESCO, 2016). The platform also gives people an opportunity to give their views and opinions on the subject matter. For example, on the same tweet above, different individuals have given their views as follows;
“Yes that too. But the parents and peers are the first building blocks!!”
Public opinion is the collective distinct attitude and views held by the adult population or the compound collection of views or opinions of different persons (McCombs, 2013). UNESCO’s communication through the social media platforms allows different individuals to give their different opinions on the different issues on the importance of formal education. This allows the organization to make decisions on the best solutions to solve the problem at hand through the theory of moral sentiments by Adam smith which advocates decisions being made for the utmost contentment of the bigger number. In this case decisions are made by considering the opinion of the vast majority over the minority (Stanton, 2007). For example, a recent post on Facebook
“#education cannot wait” posted on 23rd May
The post has different individuals giving different opinions about what they think and feel about the issue. The different views realized were,
“Let us give spirit to the children because they are our next generation”
The comment from the post is a positive comment in support of the campaign by one of the individuals in the social media platform. More comments on the same post include;
“School is not education. The idea should be building homes and communities”
Social media in this case has been used by different institutions and organizations including the government to make decisions an pressing matters thus making the public part of the decision making process.
Social media is significant to communication. Social media is a two-way conversation unlike the traditional media. Individuals can give feedback on topic or issues of interest on social media unlike the traditional media where persons cannot give opinions on different issues affecting them making it a one way conversation. Social media has an open system where any person has access to the information provided in the different platforms. The information is free since social media offers a free platform. However, the traditional media system is closed making it difficult for individuals to gain easy access to the information. Unlike social media, traditional media access to information if paid. Social media’s information is transparent. Information is put out there and allows all individuals to access it any time. Public opinion is also allowed. UNESCO for example puts the information on social media platforms for all individuals to get access to it creating awareness and allows the individuals also take necessary action in response to the information given. However, the use of traditional methods only allows opaque information only for the individuals in the organization
(Bruhn et al., 2012).
Social media allows active involvement in the different conversations in the media platforms by both public and the organization. Traditional media on the other hand only allows passive communication where the organization gives information but does not offer an open platform to receive feedback or the opinion of the public on the issue at hand. Information given in traditional media in addition is very polished and in most cases does not give the real situation on the ground. The public may end up receiving information that is not completely correct. Social media information on the other hand is authentic. It gives the exact situation on a particular issue without polishing the content. The pubic opinions are also very authentic and expresses the actual feelings of the different individuals. Social media uses the down-up strategy where information is gotten from the public and implemented by organization making the public the main source of information. However, traditional media uses top-down strategy where all the decisions are made by the organization’s executives and passed the public for implementation excluding the public from the decision making process on issues that directly affect the vast majority. Social media uses informal language which is understood by a large number of individuals unlike traditional media which uses formal language only understood the few educated individuals
Social media thus is an important tool for awareness and action during campaigns by different organizations like UNESCO. The social media platforms are used to educate the public on the importance of the campaign by the organizations. The different platforms allow questions, comments and suggestions from the public allowing direct communication between the public and the organization. The public receiving the information put all the requirements in place giving way to action. For example, the campaign about the importance of formal education for all by UNESCO is made easy through the use of social media. Feedback on the progress of a certain campaign is also made possible by use of the social media platforms.
In summary, social media plays a key role in public awareness and action through effective public relations. UNESCO a world’s popular organization has made tremendous progress in its campaign on formal education for all through the use of social media. UNESCO uses Twitter and Facebook among other platforms to educate the public on the importance of formal education. It is possible to get feedback from the public through public opinion explained in the theory of moral sentiments by Adam Smith. Social media is also more effective compared to the traditional media. Social media gives room for direct interactions with the public unlike the traditional media which uses a top-down strategy that doesn’t allow direct interactions. Social media is therefore the best tool for awareness and action.
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UNESCO, UNESCO: 26th may, 2016, www.unesco.org