As the concluding part of my masters degree, I’m undertaking research about ‘the use of social media in aiding the spread of word of mouth communication in the public relations industry’, and, to get this blog firing on all cylinders again (I’ve neglected it of late), I am going to document some of the process over the coming weeks.
My interest in word-of-mouth arose before I decided to embark on the PR career path, through reading ‘the tipping point’, Gladwell‘s insightful treatise on social epidemics and, through Richard Darwkins and Dan Dennett, learning about ‘memes’, units of human cultural transmission.
After studying PR for a year, I have come to believe that it should be the discipline for word-of-mouth generation, due to its focus on influencers and personal relationships. Social media has provided new platforms for word-of-mouth to spread more quickly and widely, albeit often without the validity afforded by ‘real-world’ conversations with peers.
Despite this, there seems to be very little discussion in the industry and virtually none in the PR academic world. It is most commonly described as a marketing discipline which, to me, implies consumer-to-consumer (transactional) relationships, but shouldn’t word-of-mouth be encouraged between different stakeholders at the organisational level as well?
Anyway, my aim is to find out where online word of outh fit’s in with the public relations agenda, and I’m in the process of interviewing practitioners about it at the moment. I’ll make sure to post some of my, and their, thoughts in the next week.