Summary

This study focused on the potential of smartphones for engagement and relationship building between organizations and young publics. The findings reveal that the smartphone gratifies both interaction-related and cognitive-related needs; nonetheless, organizations do not utilize the full dialogic potential of the smartphone to engage and to build relationships with young publics.

Method

The data for this study was collected using both qualitative and quantitative methods. First, a survey was conducted that included a representative sample of 550 young Israelis ages 21 to 31. Second, 60 personal, in-depth interviews were conducted with Israeli undergraduate students.

Key Findings

  • Smartphones have become an indispensable medium among young publics, being used in various ways and for multiple reasons
  • Most users use the smartphone to satisfy both interaction-related and cognitive-related gratifications
  • The potential of smartphones for commercial purposes is still in its early stages
  • Interaction is the keyword for smartphone usage, as the most popular applications are those of sending and receiving messages and emails, or in other words, interacting with other users

Implications for Practice

Smartphones offer many new communication channels that a savvy public relations practitioner can utilize for interaction and engagement. The interviews indicated in the eyes of young publics a smartphone–based application is a “must have,” since websites, although accessible, are perceived as less attractive and more time-consuming than an organizational application

It is important that public relations practitioners understand the role of contemporary communication technologies in organization-public relationship building. The multiple uses and applications offered by smartphones make it a generator of significant change in terms of current patterns of thinking, communication, behaviour and socialization among everyday users.

Article Location

The full article is available online at http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363811113001343

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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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