Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 171–174
Contents lists availa...
172 J. Xifra, F. Grau / Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 171–174
2. Methodology
J. Xifra, F. Grau / Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 171–174 173
3. Findings
Labour introsp...
174 J. Xifra, F. Grau / Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 171–174
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Nannobloging pr

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  • 1. Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 171–174 Contents lists available at ScienceDirect Public Relations Review Short communication Nanoblogging PR: The discourse on public relations in Twitter Jordi Xifra a,∗ , Francesc Grau b,1 a Department of Communication, Pompeu Fabra University, Barcelona, Spain b Department of Social Media, Conzentra, Barcelona, Spain a r t i c l e i n f o a b s t r a c t Article history: By analysing 653 tweets that include the word “public relations” or the acronym “PR”, the Received 23 November 2009 purpose of this paper is to show how Twitter contributes to the development of the theory Received in revised form 2 February 2010 and practice of public relations. In order to achieve this aim, an exploratory research has Accepted 17 February 2010 been conducted. © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Keywords: Nanoblogging Public relations 2.0 Tweet Twitter 1. Introduction Twitter is a nanoblogging (or microblogging) platform developed in 2006 which became popular in March 2007 after win- ning the South by Southwest Web Award to the best blog initiative ( awards/winners). Nanoblogging is a system of communication or an Internet-based publishing platform that consists of sending short text messages with a maximum length of 140 characters through tools such as Twitter, created specifically for this function. Its purpose is to explain what one is doing at a given time, share information with other users or offer links to other web sites. Twitter is the greatest relational and communicative phenomenon that has developed on the Internet in recent years. With a growth above 1400%, in the period between April 2008 and April 2009 (, it has more than 40 million users, mostly in the United States and the north of Europe (; Even although it is a social network that requires registration and authentication to be used (publish contents and/or interact with other users), it is open for the purpose of consulting the status updates of users who have configured it for this purpose. This permits crosstalk between users who follow each other and between those who do not, and the intervention of browsers in the indexing of published content (so that it can subsequently be easily located by the main browsers on the Network). It is also a service in which it is not necessary to admit all the people that want to follow us. It is public, and you write what you want and anyone can access the contents. There is no need to be “friends” or acquaintances. Similarly, Twitter cooperates seamlessly with other tools—the service’s philosophy is to be able to connect with other services so that new utilities can be created on the communication platform. This exploratory study seeks to ascertain what is published when people talk about public relations on Twitter, and how the characteristics of this platform contribute and can contribute to the professional and theoretical development of public relations. ∗ Corresponding author. Tel.: +34 935 42 14 84; fax: +34 972 41 87 32. E-mail addresses: (J. Xifra), (F. Grau). 1 Tel.: +34 902 88 94 41; fax: +34 902 88 94 40. 0363-8111/$ – see front matter © 2010 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2010.02.005
  • 2. 172 J. Xifra, F. Grau / Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 171–174 2. Methodology The sample was comprised of 653 tweets which came from the following selection process. Four waves of 100 tweets were chosen. These 100 tweets were the last hundred tweets published under the keywords public relations and pr before the capture. The capture dates were: May 4, May 24, June 12 and July 16, 2009. Of the total (800 tweets) two types of tweets were ruled out: (1) Retweets as of the third retweeting (recommendations of published tweets) to avoid the duplication of classified contents, and (2) URL shorteners that contained the keyword pr.Although the Twitter social platform provides access to search for messages posted through the keywords public relations and pr without having to be a registered user, to obtain a sample of our study we used the personal Twitter account one of the researchers. We accessed to this account through the computers of the Pompeu Fabra University (Spain). Once the sample had been defined, the tweets were categorised to perform the subsequent content analysis. The following categories were established: a. Labour introspective. It comprises all direct references to the vacancies and applications for positions in public relations, be it in firms or freelance professionals, search for fellows or announcements of new positions taken up in departments of organisations by new professionals. b. Academic introspective. It identifies both references clearly issued by students and lecturers, as well as information in the university public relations universe: scholars’ papers, comments on subjects or queries on student tasks. c. Practice. It includes all information sent out by public relations practitioners, either as members of a company or the press agent of an organisation (the account from which the tweet is sent may even be that of the actual public relations company). It also comprises tweets that refer to work by firms, such as allusions to public relations campaigns, expression of affection towards certain agencies or their professionals. d. Press release references. Announcements of the issue of press releases and links to read and/or download the press release announced. This announcement, in most cases, tends to be made through the owner of the press release and the mention “press release” alongside the link to access the information. e. General information on the public relations sector. It comprises the group of tweets that deal with the industry, on the state of the art or references to public relations as a concept, economic sector or important part of organisations’ communication strategies. f. The sender of the tweet and their dialogue with the community. It groups opinions and thoughts on the sector, heavily marked by the sender’s viewpoint. Also @replies (answers) to other users involving the existence of a dialogue with them on public relations. g. Research (open-ended questions/surveys). It includes all requests and invitations to answer, or to involve all users that read or capture a question or questionnaire issued to the community. Simple questions or questionnaires to be completed on other platforms, but in any case, requests to learn the opinion of others on an aspect of public relations. h. Announcements, reviews, events agenda, followfriday, and retweets. This group includes all tweets that facilitate acceleration, transmission and expansion of communication between the members of the community. It provides for: • Announcements and/or reminders, by way of agenda and alerts on the holding of different acts, events, seminars or webinars. • The samples of the followfriday phenomenon, which consists of making recommendations to the people you follow with the objective of getting the person who follows you to follow them also. This accelerates the process of the creation of qualified networks. • The retweet is the equivalent of the forwarding of an e-mail. It consists of republishing the tweet of another user, under our profile, because we consider that it is relevant and interesting to republish it to our own audience, stating ‘RT’ at the beginning of the tweet. It grants authority to the retweeted User and socialises and integrates the retweeterer User. This categorisation was made identifying the users, although the identity of those that did not identify themselves through their nick-name was not investigated. These tweets of unidentified users are those included in categories e, f, g, and h. Some categories correspond to the categorisation of Sallot, Lyon, Acosta-Alzuru, and Jones (2003) which uses con- tent analysis to categorize the public relations body of knowledge: introspective (a, b), practice or application of public relations (c), and theory development in public relations (e). However, the rest correspond to the idiosyncrasy of Twit- ter, whereby they are derived from the search for the direct interrelation that drives communication through this platform. All tweets were coded by two independent coders to determine intercoder reliability. Intercoder agreement was 90.36% (602 tweets) for the tweet topic. This process resulted in a Scott’s Pi of .894, the reliability coefficient that takes chance agreement into account (Scott, 1955). This falls within the acceptable range of .75 or above (Wimmer & Dominick, 2000). A reliability check for the other variables was unnecessary because the coding required only careful transcription of each tweet.
  • 3. J. Xifra, F. Grau / Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 171–174 173 3. Findings Labour introspective. This category included 15.2% (N = 99) of the tweets analysed. Twenty-nine included the acronym pr and seventy the word public relations. Academic introspective. This category contains 2.3% (N = 15) of the tweets. Four included the acronym pr and 11 the word public relations. Practice. This category included 10.9% (N = 71) of the tweets. Thirty-three included the acronym pr and 38 the word public relations. Press release references. This category contains 4.3% (N = 28) of the tweets. Twenty-seven included the acronym pr and one the word public relations. General information on the public relations sector. This category included 14.4% (N = 94) of the tweets analysed. Thirty-nine included the acronym pr and 55 the word public relations. The sender of the tweet and their dialogue with the community. This category included 18.7% (N = 122) of the tweets. Sixty-two included the acronym pr and sixty the word public relations. Research. This category contains 5.6% (N = 37) of the tweets. Twenty-four included the acronym pr and 13 the word public relations. Announcements, reviews, agenda, followfriday, and retweets. This category included 28.6% (N = 187) of the tweets analysed. Seventy-five included the acronym pr and 112 the word public relations. 4. Discussion Cortés (2009) considers that the main activity of public relations carried out by companies via nanoblogging platforms with the purpose of building and maintaining a positive image is the use of “the corporate account as an accessory or alternative channel to existing ones to communicate with the press, clients or shareholders by means of the publication of company news and activities” (p. 92). The results of this study endorse this assertion. Indeed, although the Press release references category could be part of the Practice category, they were addressed separately depending on the high proportion of these tweets with regard to the sum of the samples of both categories. These press releases fulfil two purposes: (1) be shared with the community of followers of the corporate account where these press releases are published, and (2) be properly indexed by the browsers through the key words contained in the tweet. The results also suggest that Twitter has become an efficacious channel for the dynamisation of the public rela- tions job market as demonstrated by the high number of tweets of the Labour introspective category. This data are part of the tendency in which Twitter is among the platforms where job vacancies and applications are growing strongly ( Other categories with a great number of tweets are The sender of the tweet and their dialogue with the community and announcements, reviews, agenda, followfriday, and retweets. Twitter’s primary function is self-assertion and the assertion of one’s ideas regarding a specific issue (in our case, public relations) and the relational function between users that is inherent in any social network. This relational dimension is clearly embodied in the high number of tweets of the Announcements, reviews, agenda, followfriday, and retweets category, as one of the functions of nanoblogging is precisely that people engaged in community-building around an issue. The low number of tweets of the academic Introspective category is surprising. Eleven (73.3%) of the tweets of this category are by students that seek information related to academic work or give opinions on their courses. Public relations scholars do not regularly use this medium. Although the Research category is not one of the most relevant, Twitter is also used as a research technique. However, none of the tweets of this category is framed in professional and/or academic research. They are spontaneous questions on public relations put by users to their community of followers, seeking direct interaction, stimulating interrelation. With regard to the General information on the public relations sector category, it can be compared to theory development categories used in other researches (Sallot et al., 2003). However, it is not a question of building a body of knowledge through messages of only 140 characters, but rather of leveraging the potential of nanoblogging as a system for sharing information with other users by offering links to websites, blogs or platforms with different contents. This is one of the purposes of nanoblogging and of Twitter as a platform of this new system. This is why all the tweets of categories such as Press release references and Labour introspective, or the references to public relations campaigns of the Practice category are links to web sites or blogs that contain the essential information. In summary these data suggest that, in public relations, Twitter is more a medium of professional use than a platform which favours the theoretical development of the field, at least directly. Its text limitations, however, should not be an obstacle for disseminating links that lead to reflection and to the building of the public relations body of knowledge, to which professional experiences also contribute, basically through links to other information media and platforms (e.g. World Wide Web). From this standpoint, there are no differences with other disciplines and academic fields—Twitter is a good tool for disseminating information about experiences, cases studies, ideas and new theoretical approaches. Similarly, the use of Twitter for professional reasons in the area of public relations is not an exception versus other professional areas, since, as Grau and Ponte (2009) verified, 36% of Twitter users say that they use it for strictly professional purposes. Nevertheless, for self-esteem of public relations as body of knowledge, its presence as issue on Twitter is not bad new, and, at least, can
  • 4. 174 J. Xifra, F. Grau / Public Relations Review 36 (2010) 171–174 improve the access to new public relations experiences and opinions in order to monitor the discourse of public relations in Twitter community. References Cortés, M. (2009). Nanoblogging. Barcelona: Editorial UOC. Grau, F., & Ponte, D. (2009). Twitter-vs-Facebook. In: Sallot, L. M., Lyon, L. J., Acosta-Alzuru, C., & Jones, K. O. (2003). From aardvark to zebra: A new millennium analysis of theory development in public relations academic journals. Journal of Public Relations Research, 15(1), 27–90. Scott, W. A. (1955). Reliability of content analysis: The case of nominal scale coding. Public Opinion, 19, 321–325. Wimmer, R. D., & Dominick, J. R. (2000). Mass media research: An introduction (6th ed.). Belmont, CA: Wadsworth.

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