Supa, Dustin W. (2014). A qualitative examination of the impact of social media on media relations practice. Public Relations Journal, 8(2), 1-11.


The impact of new communication technologies has caused a significant shift in how public relations is practiced in particular areas. This study used a convenience sample to find the impact of social media on the relationship between public relations practitioners and journalists. Interviews with public relations practitioners and journalists were used to determine what the impact of social media has been on the practitioner-journalist relationship. Results found that public relations practitioners indicated that the increase of social media has made significant changes to media relations, while journalists were less agreeable that social media has caused a change in the media relations relationship.


A convenience sample of public relations practitioners and journalists were used to determine the impact of social media on the relationship between the professions. A total of 69 semi-structured interviews were conducted either in-person, over the phone or via email, per the participant’s choice. This included 33 public relations practitioners and 36 journalists.

Key Findings

  • Only four of the 33 public relations practitioners interviewed said that social media did not create a change in media relations.
  • Many practitioners commented that social media made it easier to find out more information about journalists, while others stated that the relationship had become more “personal” because of social media.
  • Only five of the 36 journalists who participated indicated a substantial change in their relationship with public relations practitioners because of social media.
  • Based on the responses given during the interviews, it is clear that professionalism and transparency are important aspects of building relationships with journalists on social media.
  • The concept of professionalism was a theme found to be fairly consistent, in that journalists have expectations from their social media relationships with public relations professionals.

Implications for Practice

Social media allows for practitioners and journalists to establish a more personal relationship, but adherence to professionalism on the platform is of paramount importance. As the study confirmed, some journalists choose not to use social media for interactions with public relations professionals, and instead rely on traditional means of communication. Public relations professionals must take great care when establishing relationships to ensure the preferred communication platform is being utilized.

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Heidy Modarelli handles Growth & Marketing for IPR. She has previously written for Entrepreneur, TechCrunch, The Next Web, and VentureBeat.
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