Toward the end of the century, as business corporations became the dominant institutions of our times, the scope of PR widened and assumed new roles in the commercial realm of product marketing. At the birth of the new millennium, the ascendency of digital technology into the mainstream has once again enhanced and redefined the nature and role of public relations industry. Irrespective of the evolution and change of mediums of communication over the last century, the essence of PR industry has remained more or less the same. In other words, the theoretical framework within which the PR industry operates is applicable across media technologies, both new and traditional. This essay will pertain itself to the analysis of how Public Relations communications theory can help understanding the role of new media.
Firstly, new media is a term that is used to refer to a range of communication options that fall along a spectrum. The research team of Diana Owen and Richard Davis have done extensive analytical work on new media. They describe the wide range of new media technologies thus:
“At one end are communications platforms based on old technologies that have taken on new political roles, such as radio and television talk programs, tabloids, and television news magazines. In the middle of the spectrum are mixed or hybrid media that combine elements of traditional media with newer technologies. These include 24-hour cable news programs and the Internet sites of newspapers and magazines. On the far end of the spectrum are new media that have developed as a result of new technology that has been put to novel political uses. Internet applications, such as social networking Web sites like Facebook and MySpace, blogs, video-sharing sites including YouTube, and podcasts fall into this category.” (Owen & Davis, 2008)
What we learn from the history of PR theory over the last century is the identification of