Types of Media and Public Relations

A public relations practitioner uses various types of media to achieve its goals. Such types of media include the following:

Internal media

Internal media is used to enhance communication with internal stakeholders. Internal media includes online media, printed periodicals, interpersonal media and audiovisual media.

Online media includes such tools as emails, intranets, websites, electronic bulletin boards, internet chats, sms (cellular short messaging services), e-newsletters, social network sites and discussion forums. Online media is attractive due to its significantly lower cost (compared to printed materials, for example), flexibility (changes can be done in minutes) and speed (e.g. messages via email can be received almost instantly). With the increasing role that online media plays in internal communication, there is no reason to doubt that this media will be increasingly used by organizations.

Despite the availability and advantages of online media, many organizations still use printed periodicals to communicate with internal stakeholders. Many large organizations such as Deloitte and Toyota use magazines to communicate with employees. Bulletin boards with motivational messages, special announcements and pictures are common news boards in organizations. Some trade unions have their own printed publications. Printed newsletters are still common and convey information about current and future happenings associated with the organization and its employees. Annual reports, although often available in electronic format, are still available in print. Some employees have their own “underground periodicals” which are unauthorized publications prepared by employees themselves. In a sense, it is a grapevine in the printed format.

Interpersonal media refers to face to face communication. It is still the most important type of media that organizations can utilize to enhance communication with internal stakeholders. Any face to face interactions such as meetings, interviews and conversations are examples of interpersonal media. The grapevine is also an example of interpersonal informal communication media. It refers to interpersonal communication between employees through which news, information and rumors are spread throughout organization. Because employees usually believe information which is spread via grapevine and because information via the grapevine is spread extraordinarily fast, public relations practitioners should take grapevine communication into account during internal communication planning and should take advantage of this type of communication.

Audiovisual media refers to media which uses audio and visual elements such as videos, power point presentations and flip charts. With the advance of technology, organizations should utilize this type of media to enhance its’ internal communication.

Mass media

Mass media can be used by public relations practitioners for communication with external stakeholders. Mass media is further divided into press, broadcast and digital media.

Press includes magazines and newspapers. The advantages of press is that it allows to publish a more in-depth message as apposed to more limited messages that can be used in television or radio advertising. People often keep the articles from newspapers and magazines and pass it to their friends and family. Magazines and newspapers allow more time for the reader to comprehend the message as well as the added advantage that it can be read anywhere. Comparatively, messages provided via television or radios have to be comprehended instantaneously or it will be lost. Disadvantages of using the press include often less than objective reporting, the fact that people do not read every section of the newspaper or the magazine and the fact that total readership claimed by publishers is often overestimated as many copies will be discarded after a brief view over coffee or during a train ride to work.

Broadcast media includes radio and television. Television is usually a costly media. It is also more time consuming than many other alternatives due to the time it takes to negotiate and than produce the message. Messages that can be communicated via television are usually very limited due to the high cost and other factors. Moreover, the viewer cannot refer back to the message at their convenience, as is possible with press options. However, television provides for visual and audio elements which enhance the strength and comprehension of the message, along with other advantages.

Radio is less costly than television but does not provide visual elements and is limited to audio elements to enhance the strength of the message. Radio, as well as TV, can be used by illiterate people, which is an advantage if compared to press options discussed above. Radio also provides companionship and can be taken anywhere. It can be listened to while doing other things and many people listen to radio more in terms of time per week when compared to the viewing of television. Radio has similar disadvantages as television. Listeners do not have ability to refer to a message at their convenience or to have more time to comprehend the message, if necessary. Moreover, messages are usually limited due to cost and other factors.

Digital media can also be used by the public relations practitioner. It includes new media (not available previously) that the public relations practitioner can utilize. Digital media includes podcasts (audio messages distributed to interested individuals), online forums, blogs, video blogs, social networking sites and others. Digital media can be used for communication with internal and external stakeholders.

Private media is another media that the public relations practitioner can utilize when communicating with external stakeholders. Private media is media over which an organization has complete control and includes videos, seminars and presentations conducted by the organization, printed publications to be used with external stakeholders such as educational publications for selected external stakeholders.

Lastly, organizations can also utilize folk media for public relations purposes. Folk media refers to traditional media. It is very culturally oriented and includes gossip, puppet shows, festivals and theatre productions in villages and rural areas. Folk media are associated with communication with few individuals at a time, usually with the use of symbols and in their own language. It can be very effective in communicating with rural areas of countries.

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