Internet and Social Networks Affect PR Term Paper

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¶ … Internet and Social Networks Affect PR for professional athletes and artists

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Social networking has brought an entirely new level of transparency and truth to the spin that athletes and entertainers have long tried to create. The media and PR strategies of Diego Armando Maradona and Elvis Presley take a more of a messaging and unique value proposition (UVP) approach to defining these celebrities. Their individual brands are manufactured to make the UVPs of their careers consistent. Conversely the use of social networking strategies has as their foundation authenticity, immediacy and transparency (Rubio, 2007). Examples of celebrities using this approach include David Beckham, Brittany Spears (both for promoting her career and for damage control), and Barbra Streisand for make political statements and support Hillary Clinton for President. While there are those athletes and celebrities that don't rely on social networking as part of their public relations and messaging strategies, they do share the common characteristic with those athletes and celebrities that do by relying on a larger and more synchronized set of communications strategies Lawler, Tourelle, 2002). These series of synchronized strategies across every potential communications channel have a direct implication on the type, immediacy and context of messaging. The branding and UVP of these athletes and celebrities are then defined partially by the selection of communications channels (Lawler, Tourelle, 2002). There is greater flexibility for athletes and celebrities in using social networking vs. The more static and traditional communications and PR channels that don't provide the significantly higher level of collaboration and communication directly with fans. This level of immediacy and communication actually increases even more enthusiasm and on the part of fans and also brings an entirely new dimension of trust and accessibility to an athlete or celebrity with their fans.

Social Networking and Transparency: Can't Have One without the Other

TOPIC: Term Paper on Internet and Social Networks Affect PR for Assignment

The orchestrated marketing and PR campaigns of athletes including Diego Armando Maradona, Elvis Presley, and numerous bands including Backstreet Boys all have relied on an integrated marketing communications (IMC) strategies and programs that sought to further their unique sound and character, or simply put, their UVP as an athlete or performer (Lawler, Tourelle, 2002). The development of these strategies was directly dependent on the development of a tightly synchronized series of marketing strategies, each relying on a different communications channel. Disney has taken integrated marketing communications strategies to the level of science, complete with key performance indicators (KPIs) and scorecards to measure the performance of strategies, and both athletes and entertainers have followed the lead of the entertainment conglomerate (Johnson, Ollivier, 2007).

Implicit in the development of any IMC strategy or program also are marketing strategies that are supported by an entire foundation of messaging points. In this respect, the athlete or entertainer who relies on this approach to public relations is comparable to how companies sell products or promote services, only the athlete or entertainer is the product, complete with differentiators, UVP and "elevator pitch" of what their uniqueness and value is (Wagner, 1998). This dynamic plays out even more in the boy band area of the market, where the lifecycle of these bands run comparable to the lifecycle of a given product, from launch through growth, then maturity and finally harvesting (Wagner, 1998). Paradoxically relying purely on non-interactive, structured IMC-based campaigns to manage ones' popularity as an athlete or entertainment may make it more short-lived.

Fans are demanding greater levels of immediacy and access to their favorite athletes and entertainers than ever before. This isn't so much the stalker-type of fascination only the lunatic fringe of fans have; this is instead an interest in athletes and celebrities as who they are in everyday life. Fans want to see their favorite athletes and entertainers as real people, living fascinating lives. The undercurrent of Web 2.0 (O'Rielly, 2005) is changing the expectations fan have of how accessible and transparent their favorite athletes and celebrities should be. Tim O'Reilly (2005), founder and publisher of O'Reilly Books, and John Battelle, author and former design engineer lead at Google summarized in their definition of the market and user dynamics driving the next generation of web services called Web 2.0

Figure 1 is the map O'Reilly and Battelle created showing how both market and user dynamics are defining social networking (O'Reilly, 2005. et.al.)

Inherent in the user dynamics of the map completed by O'Reilly and Battelle are the theoretical foundations of social networking. Specifically the architecture of participation, interactivity, generation of trust through transparency, and the harnessing of collective expectations through blogs and other forms of social networking including Facebook and MySpace.

Figure 1: Web 2.0 Explained

As can be seen from the above graphic, immediacy, transparency and trust are all critical aspects of social networking and exemplify the broader trends of communication and collaboration. In this respect athletes and celebrities aren't so much seen as on a pedestal as much anymore they are seen for their true talents, which is counter to the spin invoked by intricate and expensive IMC campaigns (Cowlett, 2000). As a result of these dynamics the demand for transparency is so great today that for those athletes and celebrities that don't provide it become the basis for speculation at best and the subject of expose' television networks including TMZ and TMZ.com and getting roasted on celebrity blog sites including perezhilton.com. Both of these gossip sites can be particularly vicious in the analyses and assessments of athletes and celebrities that are in fact hiding much or appear to be something they are no, spinning their identities through IMC campaigns alone.

Both athletes and celebrities however are realizing that social networking gives them the chance to be much more interactive with their fans, in addition to being able to practice damage control if their lack of judgment gets them into problems. Consider the use of blogs by Brittany Spears, Lindsay Lohan and Paris Hilton, the bad-girl trio of the last two years. All of them owe the start of their careers to the successful execution of a series of IMC campaigns that were both driven by new album releases, and events including concerts. These IMC strategies in the case of Spears and Lohan propelled the girls to superstar status. Both seemed destined to have long and successful careers in music and film. The series of bad judgments made by both Spears and Lohan forced them both initially into seclusion yet they are attempting to resurrect their careers through the use of social networking including setting up fan pages on MySpace (Muchmore, 2006). Both have been pummeled by TMX, Perezhilton.com and other celebrity gossip sites for their lack of transparency in the midst of their many challenges. Within the last six months both of these celebrities have embraced social networking as a means to get their side of the many challenges both have faced. Reacting to PR challenges with social networking is a good strategy yet to have begun with this as an essential part of how they connected with their fan base would have been much better. Consider the examples of these athletes as a case in point.

Contrast Spear's Lohan's and Hilton's haphazard approach to communicating to the approach taken by Derek Jeter, Carmelo Anthony, and David Beckham, all super-star athletes in their respective sports of baseball, basketball and soccer. Derek Jeter is the captain of the New York Yankees and regularly blogs on YardBarker.com, discussing the controversy between him and Alex Rodriguez, 3rd baseman of the Yankees, who has the largest contract in Yankee's history. There has been contention over Rodriguez playing short-stop, and the New York media, which can be ruthless, has played up the conflict between Jeter and Rodriguez, yet Jeter has diffused the situation through candid and frank posts on his blog. Carmelo Anthony, arrested for DUI in Denver, is in danger of losing his contract with the Denver Nuggets. Anthony blogs on Yardbarker.com to tell his side of the story, also keeping the sports media straight on the facts to minimize the confusion over his arrest for drunk driving.

Perhaps no other athlete in modern times has orchestrated the use of IMC campaigns used to support his personal endorsements and the use of blogs to share his unpretentious personality as David Beckham. His move from the United Kingdom to the U.S., settling in Los Angeles was orchestrated with a series of IMC campaigns including a reality-based television show that comically showed his wife attempting to navigate the streets of Beverly Hills and get settled. Beckham's brand is pure performance on the soccer field and relies on social networking to underscore humility and a lack of pretension. Beckham does not have a UVP; he is himself, and in that authenticity, he both becomes accessible and transparent to his fans and to the gossip media who tracks him and his families' daily lives.

Summary

The era of IMC-based campaigns for managing careers and the significant events that comprise them is over. Instead there needs to be a hybrid approach that balances the aspects… [END OF PREVIEW] . . . READ MORE

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