Verčič, Dejan; Tkalac Verčič, Ana; & Sriramesh, Krishnamurthy (2015). Looking for digital in public relations. Public Relations Review, 41(2), 142-152.


The purpose of this study was to review the growth of the body of knowledge on the nexus between public relations and ICTs, and digital, social and mobile (DSM) media. This study sought to assess whether these “new” media had induced the body of knowledge to redefine the term public and whether these media had induced us to think differently with regard to the rules of engagement with these publics. A review of over 35 years of articles in the Public Relations Review that discussed ICTs and DSM media revealed a lop-sided growth of the field. But the focus has almost exclusively been on using these media as “tools” for purposes of media relations with negligent study of DSM media stakeholders and publics. Issues of the Digital Divide and Privacy are absent, while amalgamation of public relations, advertising and journalism in DSM media is overlooked.


A systematic review of over 35 years of articles in the Public Relations Review that discussed ITC and social media which identified 155 articles for analysis.

Key Findings

  • Digital, social and mobile (DSM) public relations is still predominantly about media and media relations.
  • While mobiles are becoming the most commonly used devices to access the Internet and the (social) media, mobile public relations is under researched.
  • We know too little about different types of organizations using DSM public relations; business dominates research.
  • In DSM public relations, publics are rarely defined – as if DSM public relations communicates with undifferentiated ‘users.’
  • DSM public relations is perceived through the lenses of public relations tools and its wider social implications and consequences are absent from research (i.e. digital publics, privacy, digital, amalgamation of advertising and media relations).

Implications for Practice

Digital, social and mobile (DSM) public relations must be approached as more than just a communication tool. Proper strategies should address identities and trustworthiness of communication agents and segment interlocutors/targets. Digital publics, Millenials, generations Y and X, are to be researched for their proper qualities and societal issues of digital communication (problems of privacy and the breakdown of modern distinctions between private/public, and the digital divide) are to be taken into consideration. DSM public relations can’t be understood as a merely linear progression in public relations development; they probably represent a true creative destruction of the profession.

Article Location

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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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