Paradigms of Public Relations in an Age of Digitalization: Social Media Analytics in the UAE

Paradigms of Public Relations in an Age of Digitalization: Social Media Analytics in the UAE

Badreya Al-Jenaibi
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3045-0.ch016
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This study explores the uses of social media in public relations (PR) departments in the United Arab Emirates (UAE). It seeks to lay the basis for understanding the place of social media in the UAE and to contribute to the analysis of the issue of social change in the PR offices. The chapter assesses the state of PR in the UAE in relation to global media and highlights needs in this area for both public and private enterprises. Presenting interview data taken from a cross section of 40 organizations throughout the UAE, it addresses perceptions of benefits, challenges, public acceptance, and future strategies of social media in relation to global SM as whole. It finds that barriers to the use and acceptance of SM in PR have mostly been lifted.
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In the contemporary world, public relations have been shown to be an essential tool for business marketing. When large investments in marketing strategies have not yielded desired results in a timely fashion (Kaplan, 2012), corporations have been compelled to seek professional help (Harris, 2008) from the public relations expert. Traditionally, Public Relations intervention has taken the form of placing advertisements in newspapers (Motti, 2011). These efforts however are rapidly being replaced given the onset of Social Media Public Relations, or SMPR (Dave, 2008). Yet to date little research has been performed to date on the use of SMPR techniques in the UAE. This research critically analyzes the operations of SMPR departments in organizations in the United Arab Emirates. It adopts a multidimensional approach to offer a socio-scientific perspective on this subject matter. Both qualitative and quantitative methods were chosen in combination to produce optimal results (Meyette, 2003).

Social Media has been defined as the democratization of substance and / or content and the comprehension of the responsibility (Powell, et al., 2011) played by various people across the globe during the reading and propagation of information (Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy & Silvestre, 2011). It is identified in part with websites like Facebook, Friendster, and MySpace which permit their clients to allocate content (Kaplan, 2012), Media along with many others (Caverlee, Webb, 2008), and with websites intended for photo and video sharing, like Flickr, YouTube, and Photo bucket (Jarboe, 2009). The Social Media category also includes news collection and online reference websites (Elavsky & Elavsky, 2011), like Digg and Wikipedia, and micro-blogging sites like Twitter (Garfield, 2010).

Overall, the online experience is becoming an ever more important means through which organisations relate to their customers and clients. Today, Facebook and Twitter marketing are considered vital constituents in a contemporary Social Media marketing strategy (Gillin, 2008). Given its potential to establish and relay certain attitudes, social media also can play an important role in public relations. Various researchers like Kaplan, Andreas, Michael and Haenlein (2010) have documented the dual role of Social Media pathways arising out of its interactive model. Social media is recognized as having the potential to both grant corporations an influential business presence (Kietzmann, Hermkens, McCarthy & Silvestre, 2011) and to act as centres for clients to locate and interact with a corporation’s services (Reisner, 2009) and products. Among its contributions to business presence is the ability of Social Media Pathways to assist corporations in creating and maintaining (Hill, 2005) a constructive social status. For example, entrepreneurs can craft and sustain their business profiles on social networking sites. Research shows that social media pathways can help a business entrepreneur to craft more cohorts (Gregory, 2004)and/or followers by leveraging its ability to collate information (Botan &Taylor, 2006) and send out updates on a regular basis (Dave, 2008). Such exposure helps to gain new customers while also avoid losing already established consumers.

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