The Role of Prosumers in the Interactive and Digital Processes of Public Relations: The Organisation of Events and Influencers as the New Emerging Stakeholder

The Role of Prosumers in the Interactive and Digital Processes of Public Relations: The Organisation of Events and Influencers as the New Emerging Stakeholder

Marta Pulido Polo (University of Seville, Spain)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-3119-8.ch012

Abstract

Public relations describe strategic processes of relationship management that organizations that seek excellence promote with their stakeholders. The purpose of these processes is to generate and maintain a dialogic communication system through which to generate a climate of reciprocity based on the search for common interests, agreements, and expectations. Under this approach, this chapter analyzes the figure of the influencer as a new category of emerging stakeholder, an opinion leader 2.0 capable of generating a state of opinion in the digital community that transcends the general traditional public opinion, surpassing the traditional model two-step flow of communication.
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Introduction

Public relations are a planned communication process that focuses on strategically managing (Austin & Pinkleton, 2015) an organisation’s relationships with the stakeholder universe that form part of its societal context. The incorporation of new web-based 2.0 technologies into the public-relations process necessarily involves reconceptualising and redefining the traditional structural elements of public relations: the sender, message and publics (Xifra, 2005). Viewing the field through this lens, it is undeniable that the prosumer (McLuhan and Nevitt, 1972) has become one of the key emergent organisational publics of recent times, this being primarily related to the growth in the figure of the influencer. One of the main characteristics of prosumers in the digital age is their capacity not only to consume what they produce, but also to make themselves into opinion leaders 2.0, becoming authorities for other users and, most importantly, for other prosumers. This continuous prosumer-user-prosumer feedback loop is capable of constructing a highly persuasive narrative discourse (such discourses being pure public relations) in the digital environment, based on the concept of peer-to-peer recommendation. It thereby promotes the development of horizontal communications structures that are established through constant, one-to-one dialogue (Pulido and Benitez, 2016). Therefore, prosumers’ ability to generate a collective opinion in the digital community is remarkable, particularly if we consider how this affects the situation of organisations, whether they are businesses or institutions.

Following on from this, the main objective of this chapter is to observe how, through the organization of specific events, organizations (eminently related to the young public) try to positively influence traditional public opinion using influencers, in order to generate a favourable collective opinion about the organisation and its services or products. This gives rise to a three-step flow of communication which goes beyond the communication structures traditionally used to interact with public opinion. Although the findings of recent public-relations research applied to the organisation of acts establish clear differences between acts and events, the organisation of events focused on these endorsers 2.0 is what has dominated the public-relations strategies of many companies recently, the benefit of which takes the form of digital narrative structures. These can be audiovisual or visual, are generated and (largely) consumed in the societal context itself and have a high level of credibility, particularly among social-network users, for whom these influencers have become veritable (and highly trustworthy) opinion leaders 2.0.

In order to work towards this main objective, it will be necessary to achieve each of the following secondary objectives:

  • OS1: Construct a concise, syncretic theoretical framework on public relations as a strategic process for managing relationships.

  • OS2: Conduct a terminological analysis of the key concepts contained in the description of the chapter’s main objective.

  • OS3: Determine what the characteristic advantages of special events organised specifically for influencers are, in comparison with other communications techniques that have traditionally been used for managing organisations’ relationships with their publics.

  • OS4: On the basis of OS3, identify an efficient bidirectional (dialogic) communications model for organisations to use in the organisation of events for influencers.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Influencer: 2.0 opinion leaders.

Opinion Leader: A person to whom the community around them attributes a high level of knowledge on a specific thematic area.

Event: Spectacle that is generally linked to the business field and related to the positioning of the company’s brands, products and services.

Ceremonial Act: Sober, formal performance organised by companies and institutions in order to transmit their organisational values.

Strategic Planning: A management process based on establishing desired goals and objectives and designing changes and tools to achieve them.

Public Relations: A management function within organisations, responsible for managing relationships between the organisation and the publics in its societal context.

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