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Power Relations—the new PR

May 31, 2011

Michael Bugeja, director,
Greenlee School of Journalism and Communication,
Iowa State University of Science and Technology

During a recent staff meeting, we discussed how the nature of public relations is changing because of digital media. While meet-and-greet and agency assignments still abound, as do information and government PR jobs, a dynamic field is emerging and involving people who feel passionately about topics and convey that through social and interactive media.

I call that “Power Relations—the new ‘PR.’” Some of my staff preferred the name “Passionate Relations.” Power or passion, the new public relations involves practitioners who:

  1. Understand Internet, social media and new applications from a computer-science rather than consumer perspective.
  2. Have mastered the basics of writing, reporting and research.
  3. Possess expertise in a topic or service.
  4. Feel passionately about that topic or service.
  5. Know how to coordinate micro-blogging (Twitter) and blogging.
  6. Are familiar with html so as to tweak blog sites such as
  7. Network with or contribute to media outlets that may host a blog or site.

Earlier this week in Washington, D.C. I have a presentation on science communication—a field where Power Relations is evident in such topics as organic vs. processed food, for instance—to members of the International Food Information Council. My message to corporate public relations VIPs was to acknowledge the influence of bloggers who possess the seven elements of Power Relations, listed above.

I have been practicing those tenets myself to see how influential they can be, in a new blog that attracted more than 1000 viewers in 10 days: proxiblog.

I also had the pleasure of presenting with Amy Mitchell, Deputy Director, Project for Excellence in Journalism and co-author of a fascinating report, “Understanding the participatory news consumer.”

If you read this report, you’ll see evidence of Power Relations and how to incorporate them into your program.

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