Lee, M. J. & Cho, H. (2017). Uses of social media in government public relations: Content analyses of PR models, strategies, and tactics via social media: Comparative analysis between South Korea and the United States of America. Journal of Public Affairs Journal of Public Affairs. 2017;e1687. https://doi.org/10.1002/pa.1687

This study investigated five different government organizations’ uses of social media in two countries: South Korea and the United States. Two content analyses were conducted in two time periods: 2011 and 2014. This study found that the majority of government organizations in both countries use social media within the public information model (for dissemination of information), followed by the two‐way asymmetrical model (for persuasion). As expected, the most prevalent public relations strategy is the informative strategy, followed by the persuasive strategy. A new typology of government social media message strategy was identified and measured. The majority of government organizations use the information dissemination social media message strategy although uses of the initiative participatory message strategy and the authoritative spokesperson message strategy differ between two countries. Specific differences were identified further between 2011 and 2014 as well as between two countries.

Two content analyses were conducted in two time periods: 2011 and 2014. The five organizations from South Korea and the five organizations from the United States were examined. In Study 1, the tweets and Facebook pages (N = 300) were gathered during the months of September 2011. Fifteen tweets from the Twitter account and 15 pages from the Facebook account for each agency were randomly selected. In Study 2, the content analysis was conducted with 193 Facebook postings that appeared between October 1 and November 30, 2014.

Key Findings
(1) Government organizations most commonly used Facebook and Twitter in both countries. All the five South Korean government organizations use YouTube and Blog

as a communication channel for interacting with the public. The United Sates’ government organizations use more social media than South Korean government organizations.

(2) The dominant PR model for government social media use is the public information model. American government social media contents displayed the public information model, such as providing updates and announcements from the agency and providing information and reports from other organizations. These findings are quite different from the content analysis results of the same organizations, conducted in 2011.

(3) Among three social media message strategies, informative dissemination message strategy was the most frequently observed in both countries. In regard to other message strategies, South Korean government organizations were more likely to use initiative participatory message strategy than authoritative message strategy. However, the U.S. government organizations used more authoritative spokesperson message strategy than initiative participatory message strategy.

Implications for Practice
This study provides a basic stepping stone for understanding the roles and uses of social media in government public relations. Even though government public relations is a growing area, to obtain a better understanding of social media uses in government public relations, further studies should be continued. The relationship/communication management between government organizations and their publics is a complicated and multifaceted endeavor. The layers of complexity need to be further identified in relation to how social media can foster effective communication and relationship management between government organizations and publics in the society.

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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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