Relevance of pre-web social network theory to the practice of social media public relations

Dina Grills Petrosky, University of Rhode Island


Social Media has forced the business of public relations to see and act differently. No longer can a single set of one-way messages to an audience serve a comprehensive purpose. With the advent of Web 2.0, the ability for everyday people to publish content and build authority has grown significantly. However, the tools utilized in Web 2.0 involve more than simply more than technology platforms and data sharing, they involve relationships and emotions. In Putting the Public Back in Public Relations Deirdre Breakenridge and Brian Solis state “It's about sociology and anthropology, not about technology.” (Solis & Breakenridge, 2009). This thesis examines the following hypotheses regarding communications and human interaction theories and how they impact Web 2.0 communications, in particular, those assigned to public relations practitioners. H1 A Web 2.0 social media network community is similar in relationship structure to an interpersonal community network described in The Strength of Weak Ties (Granovetter, 1973). H2 Information flow through a Web 2.0 social media network, as sought by public relations practitioners, is explained by Granovetter's interpersonal network concepts such as micro-level interaction, diffusion of influence, and macro-level patterns. The second half of this paper examines the results of 15 in-depth interviews with public relations practitioners who have been asked about their perceptions and use of social media.

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Recommended Citation

Dina Grills Petrosky, "Relevance of pre-web social network theory to the practice of social media public relations" (2011). Dissertations and Master's Theses (Campus Access). Paper AAI1490914.