Increasing Use Of Social Media Among Public Relations Practitioners

Project and Seminar Material for Mass Communication

Increasing Use Of Social Media Among Public Relations Practitioners


The core objective of this research was to examine the increasing use of social media among public relations practitioners using Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku as a case study. Basically, the use of social media has increased among consumers around the world, causing an increase in the adoption of social media as tactics and means of sharing information and interactions among many public relations professionals and its Public. This study employed descriptive survey to assess use and emerging trends of social media in public relations practice in Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku. This exposed state of things in this era of digitalization. The target populations were public relations officers and staff in the Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku, individuals deemed to have knowledge or experience on social media use. The sampling procedures were simple random sampling and purposive. There was a definite focus to choose the 10 public relations officers in Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku. Simple random sampling of the Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku staff was used to select 180 officers as the subjects of the study from a total population of 1800 Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku staff. The data collected were analysed and interpreted using simple statistics frequency and percentage table method. Findings of the research revealed that Social media are an effective tool for communicating and redistributing news from traditional media sources. Finally, it was recommended that digital media or new media should form part of the curriculum for undergraduates in mass communication and public relations, in particular, this will equip them for digital practice.

Table of Contents

Chapter One:


  • 1.1 Background to the Study
  • 1.2 Statement of the Problem
  • 1.3 Objectives of the Study
  • 1.4 Research Questions
  • 1.5 Significance of the Study
  • 1.6 Scope of the Study
  • 1.7 Limitation to the Study
  • 1.8 Definition of Terms
  • 1.9 Organization of study

Chapter Two:

Literature Review

  • 2.1 Introduction
  • 2.2 Concept of Social media
  • 2.3 Types of social media
  • 2.4 Conceptualization of public relation roles
  • 2.6 Importance of social media and public relations
  • 2.7 Research gap
  • 2.8 Theoretical framework

Chapter Three:


  • 3.1 Overview
  • 3.2 Research Design
  • 3.2.1 Study Design
  • 3.2.2 Research Approach
  • 3.2.3 Research method
  • 3.2.4 Data needs, types and sources
  • 3.2.5 Population, sampling and data collection
  • The target population
  • Sampling
  • 3.2.6 Data collection
  • The public Relations Officer/Staff Questionnaires
  • Interview Schedules
  • 3.2.7 Data analysis and presentation
  • 3.3 Validity of the Instruments
  • 3.4 Reliability of the instruments
  • 3.5 Ethical considerations

Chapter Four:

Data Presentation, Analysis and Interpretation

  • 4.1 Overview
  • 4.2 Introduction
  • 4.3 Analysis of Research Findings

Chapter Five:

Summary of the Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations

  • 5.1 Overview
  • 5.2 Summary of the Findings
  • 5.3 Conclusions
  • 5.4 Recommendations
  • 5.5 Suggestions for Further Research
  • References

Chapter One


1.1 Background to the Study

Advancement in modern technology which resulted in building computer/internet in short information and communication technology (ICT) in the late 20 century and with more powerful and sophisticated ones in this 21 century which has transformed the world into a global village as postulated by a Canadian English professor, Marshal Mcluham. This new technology has compressed the whole world into a single electronic to where information about far and near can be exchanged and shared with just a click of mouse. Internet being the host of many other media tagged socio-media like: Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Ebay, Ebuddy, Eskimi, 2go, Yahoo, Google e.t.c making information distribution faster, cheaper and easier. The arrival of this information and communication technology has affected and the usual shapes of every human activities ranging from education to agriculture, business, mass communication, politics, health. However, the practice of public relation is not exceptional as ICT has influenced the PRS being practice in this century. Carrying out project work relating to the effect of social media on the practice of PRS will lead to the definition of ‘core word’ like public relations from different perspectives. According to the institute of public relations, “public relations are a deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintained mutual understanding between an organization and its various Public. Therefore, there is no gain saying in the fact that, the practices of PR in this century has moved from manual to the digital public relations.

Digital public relations or an e-public relation is the latest concept in corporate reputation management. It is the practice of public relations through the new ICT, it is an innovation concept that is computer mediated yet it is cheaper. Today organization and clients are making greater demand as on public relations professionals that are more ICT creative, more innovation and more efficiency in service delivery.

1.2 Statement of the Problem

The rise in the use of social media around the world has led to the introduction of social media into many public relations practices. It is unarguably true that this new form of communication is growing at an incredibly rapid pace, it is therefore important to analyze the impact that social and other new media have had on the overall public relations practice, as well as how universities are incorporating this new media into their curriculum. This study aims to examine how public relations practitioners are using social media; the impact and implications that this new media has had on the public relations profession, and how public relations professionals value these new media as a means to communicate with the public.

1.3 Objectives of the Study

The main objective of the study is to examine increasing use of social media among public relations practitioners.

  1. To investigate the potential roles of social-media in modern practice of public relations.
  2. To study the differences and similarity in terms of cost, and effectiveness while using social media and traditional media for message dissemination.
  3. To examine the public’s response attitude towards the social-media message.
  4. To investigate whether the social media are suitable for public relations practice.
  5. To show the strength and weakness of social media as a public relations tool.

1.4 Research Questions

  1. Does your company use social media in communication and sharing of ideas?
  2. To what extent has social media help your company solve problems and complains from its various Public?
  3. Has social media enhanced the performance of public relations department of Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku?
  4. Does Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Ukuface any challenge in using social media?

1.5 Significance of the Study

The study is to reveal how socio-media can be translated into a power tools in the hand of innovated and creative public relations especially in building Public confidence and effective interaction.

1.6 Scope of the Study

This research focuses on the effect of social-media on the practices of public relations with a reference to the global communication Nigeria especially public relations and customer care departments.

1.7 Limitation to the Study

Research work like this cannot be carried out examine all organization and that is why the work is limited only to the global communication Nigeria. Limitation is also posed by the few literature that is ready available for this study since the work is new. Time factor is another hindrance as attention is needed for other academic activities.

1.8 Definition of Terms


A group of persons with similar aspiration and ideas, interest and characteristics that is of importance to an organization

Public Relations:

Is the deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understandings between an organization and its public


The way in which two people or group behaves towards each other or deal with one another.
Organization: A group of people who form a business together in order to achieve a particular aim or a group with a particular purpose

Social Media:

A group of internet-based applications that build on the ideological and technological foundations of web 2.0 and that allow the creation and exchange of user-generated content. (Kaplan and Haenlein, 2010)

Social Skills:

Any skills facilitating interaction and communication with others. Social rules and relations are created, communicated and changed in verbal and nonverbal ways through a process called socialization.


This is the electronic medium of computer networks, in which online communication takes place.

1.9 Organizations of the Study

The chapter one consist of the introductory part of the study which includes the study background, the statement of the research problem, the study objective and scope of the study. The second chapter is a critical review of other literatures relevant to the study and its objectives including the theoretical framework for the study. While the third chapter is methods of data collection, sampling and data analysis used in conducting the study. The fourth chapter centres around the research findings including an analysis of how it relates to previous findings. The fifth chapter consists of the summary of findings, conclusion and recommendations base on the study objectives.

Chapter Five

Summary of the Findings, Conclusions and Recommendations

5.1 Overview

Social media use is important in public relations practice. Government ought to understand how social media support this practice if they are to use social media effectively. Landsbergen (2010) posits further that Social media supports the increased reliance on human networks, the need for rapid interactive communication; the need to blur what is private and public, and the need for engaging multimedia. Whether government can use social media depends upon how well government see, understand, and attend to these needs. The purpose of this study was to examine social media use in public relations practice in Nigerian : a case of Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku.

Specifically, it sought to identify social media forms used, achievement of PR practice objectives in terms of type of information passed through the social media and determine the factors for preference of social media tools employed in PR practice in Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku.

This chapter presents a summary of the findings of the study, giving conclusions and recommendations that reflect the answers to the specific questions for possible action and suggestions for further research.

5.2 Summary of the Findings

The study aimed at examining Increasing Use Of Social Media Among Public Relations Practitioners. The study concentrated on Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku.

The following major findings emerged. The study confirmed that there has been active use of social media in Nigerian companies for duration not less than 3 years. It was determined that there are three forms or applications/mediums of social media that are officially used to relay information. These applications were Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp. The degree or extent of their use varied significantly with respect to the origin of the communication, that is, from government to the public or from the public to the government; or from government officers to other government officers. It was determined that the PR officers preferred using Facebook and Twitter when communicating to the external Public whereas WhatsApp was used to circulate memos, circulars and briefings internally. Overall, the most commonly used form being Facebook. This was attributed to its relative ease of use compared to the other two. Moreover, it was noted that the department could reach more people in Nigeria via

Facebook than through any other social media means. Twitter was the second most used form whereas WhatsApp came at a distant third; being the least used form-mainly internally. Therefore, social media had become a daily act of the PR practice, with findings indicating response to enquiries as major daily activity.

The analysis revealed that the actual estimate of the number of people who could be reached via social media was nonetheless unclear. The public relations officers gave vastly differing estimates, as either hundreds of people, thousands, tens of thousands or hundreds of thousands. But this reach may imply expansive audience considering that 100 people who are also connect to many other could be reached daily.

Similarly, the officers were divided on whether social media is used for internal communication at the department or not. Of the respondents interviewed, 50 % agreed that social media is used for internal communication while the other 50% differed in response. Many thought disagreed on its internal use opined that it was only utilized to relay what had already been communicated. For example, a memo that had been released would be captured in photo format then circulated via WhatsApp to colleagues.

The study revealed certain attributes of various social media forms in use which had endeared them to the Public at the Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku. These included accessibility, positivity, networking and convenience in sharing ideas and sharing tasks. The ease with which one social media form enabled users to enjoy this attributes was a guide to preference of that social media form over the others. In line with this, the research assessed whether social media enhanced achievement of PR practice objectives at Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku. It was determined that the communication content varied, ranging from informational content, social content and publicity material. Informational discourse, which dominated the results. External and internal communication was also achieved. Feedback to enquiries also imply effective communication.

Moreover, the study revealed that social media had impacted positively on service delivery at the Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku. It was determined that social media had created a convenient avenue for Public to make enquiries and received guidance simultaneously from the officers. Secondly, social media had widened accessibility to information, whereby the public no longer had to physically visit the office to get information or service.

Furthermore, social media had eased communication between public relations officers and other line state departments hence the PR officers were positions to relay the same to the enquiring public hence offering timely responses to issues at hand. Moreover, it was determined that social media engagement with the public generated immediate responses hence improved trust and confidence in public service.

Finally, the study revealed that there was prominence of organizational barriers that limited the social media use and adoption. Majority of interviewees were quick to mention the security reasons for avoidance of free use. Facebook page for internal Public was dormant only occasioned with notices and policies updates. This pointed to a fact that social media was in active utilization at the department on daily basis.

5.3 Conclusions

The study concluded that govt public relations practice is in active utilization and adoption of social media. All officers were technologically savvy or conscious of it. The modes in use are Facebook, Twitter and WhatsApp, the latest, implying adoption rate was high.

The study nonetheless determined that preference on modes of social media used varied significantly depending on the nature of origin of the communication, type of Public, ease of use, reach, access and networking, among other factors.

However, for all its good, the study concludes that the public relations department is unsure of the estimated population it is able to reach through communication via social media. This means that there are no assessments done for effective use of social media.

Social media is used for information, publicity, to pursue dialogue and also to convey social messages such as the department conveying seasonal greetings during festivities like Christmas. Therefore, the social media is used to promote brand and preserve image other than promote mutual understanding. The study concludes that social media has been instrumental in enhancing public communication and service delivery through enabling simultaneous interactions but still holds of the control of what to be done through it.

The study also assessed whether social media use enhanced achievement of PR practice objectives in terms of information passed in this department. The type of information passed through social media was mainly informational. Meaning, the main aim is to push messages to the Public. Public were merely passive recipients. With question- answer inquiries that never considered the opinions of the Public. Less power was given to them, hence, two-way communication still inadequate.

It was discovered that, social media was more beneficial to external Public than internal. This could mean internal communication was sparse or done through alternative media, and it is obvious that there is lack of right approach to implement social media as a main communication tool for the internal Public. . Unlike what Adoyo (2014) argued that social media provides an opportunity for everyone to communicate effectively and efficiently in away unprecedented by any other media.

There was a general agreement that social media informs the public on services, promotes goodwill through conversation and dialogue allows access to public information, thereby facilitating transparency, accountability and timely response. The study also revealed that Facebook was the most preferred mode by external Public for making inquiries, and for responding to the public. This was due to ease, reach and cost effectiveness. PROs also preferred the same for communicating with the Public. Internal communication preference tool was WhatsApp. There was control of messages from internal Public. Access and networking were the main attributes accounting for preference of social media in this department. These are the main factors that enhance its use.

It is clear that, social media was used oftenly, hence a daily tool in PR practice. Mostly, the activities done on daily basis included timely response to inquiries and this was as a result of complaints or complements appearing daily from the public update of statuses. That face to face interaction had reduced, following Public seeking information via social media.

Summarily, public relations officers’ roles in this era are crucial and overload.

Risk averse culture and restrictions of free use of social media imply that PROs are not involved in managerial decision making, and there is no guiding policies. This is so mainly because, govt is reluctant to give up control of their messages, keeping professionalism in pages.

5.4 Recommendations

The study recommends that the Delta State Polytechnic Ogwashi Uku should consider developing a harmonized social media strategy. This would enable its officers, particularly on the public relations department to appreciate the revolutionary nature and positive attributes that social media can bring to the organization. This will be necessitated by a social media public officials’ implementation guide that will ensure right policies, strategies and assessment tools (Cardenas 2013). This would solve the issues of risk averseness, restrictions, evaluation and unequal use for internal verse external communication.

It was noted that most of the officers at the department were at least 40 years old hence may not be technologically savvy. The study recommends that efforts should be put in place to ensure that they are well adapted to the social media use generation without falling prey to information confidentiality breaches that are a concern today. Training in social media use will enhance this course.

Finally, the study recommends that the department should embrace the modes of social media deemed appropriate to the internal Public with a bit of friendliness. This would ensure that the department does not lose the trust and confidence it has already developed with the internal public as that would dampen efficient service delivery and non-achievement of public relations practice goals.

5.5 Suggestions for Further Research

The study was not conclusive but opened for more need for future research to conduct studies on a number of related issues to social media use in Nigerian companies.

Further research should be carried out on areas of social media reach estimation, response rate to enquiries done through social media and finally the view of social media use in Nigerian companies public relations from external perspective. Does the external public view government better with the upswing of social media?

Further study should be done on large scale PR research on social media use in govt, other than a case study.

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