This study investigates the place of social media in the practice of public relations in Delta State University Abraka. The advent of social media in the practice of public relations has changed the pattern of public engagement by public relations department. The research adopted uses and gratifications theory of mass communication. A total of 180 copies of the questionnaires were administered. The place of social media practice of public relations is to enhance the coverage and connectivity strategies to effectively engage the public. The research concluded the social media used in public relations provides image making, news feed and evaluation of response and clarification of misleading information. Delta State University should always update the students with academic information and frequently respond to student’s comments and likes.
1.1 Background To The Study
The increase in competition among organizations with similar product and service and the free market environment prompted the need for public relation activities to engage members of the public who could be prospective customers or exiting customers in a mutual relationship devoid of cheat and undue advantage. According to Igben (1997), the most celebrated definition of public relations a put by British, Institute of Public Relations states that
Public Relations practice is the deliberate planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain mutual understanding between an organization and its public.
The standpoint from this definitions that public relation is a predetermine strategies to establish, maintain and continues understanding between two parties depending on each other for survival.
The practice of public relations which is on image projection uses effective channels of communication to engage the publics in a cordial relations officer having huge task to maintain good image of the organization ensures that since there are several media outlets, transforming clearly, with increased advancement in technology, he is left with task of maintaining credibility and mutual relationship with the appropriate media so as to reach their public not just effectively but also positively. This is the aspect of media relations. According to Igben (1997), media relations is a persistent interaction with media communication in order to maintain exchange of news worthy confidences and sustained public information
Baran (2004) observes that media relation requires that the public relations professional maintains good relationship with professional on the media by simply responding to media request for information or spokesperson.
New media is relatively new in the society and most new in the practice of public relation. New media are new technological innovations that have revolutionary influence on the pattern of communication between organization and its publics. According to Luo and Jiang (2012), social media have emerged as a critical avenue for public relations practice. Social media has become a common activity in the world today which has broken the barriers of distance that has hampered communication. According to Samuel (2014:40) “The invention of the internet brought a new dimension to the media landscape, marked the beginning of technological transformational and socialization with a higher desire for information about everything. This slowly essentially is information about people”.
Simeon, Sitalaskshmi, Doriane, Donelle and Tom (2011) state that social media is a phenomenon that has transformed the interaction and communication of individuals throughout the world. However, social media is not a new concept. It has been evolving since the dawn of human interaction. In recent times, social media has impacted many aspects of human communication, thereby impacting business. Social networking has become daily practice in some user’s lives”.
The place of social media in communication cannot be overemphasized due to the fact that communication brings people together and foster peaceful co-existence. As such, social interaction has been as old as man. However, the medium of engaging this social interaction is the phenomenon that Simoen et al stated.
According to Simeon et al (2011) Emile Durkheim, a French sociology known by many as the father of sociology; and Ferdinand Tonnies a German sociologist, are considered pioneers of social networks during the late 1800s. The bedrock of media is the socialization. For man to relate they must be a Channel or media. That medium must enhance understanding of cues from parties involved in communication.
There is a synergy between public relations and social media. According to Lariscy, Avery, Smeetser and Howes (2009), the use of social medial has made the dissemination of information to stakeholders as easier and faster job or practitioners. Waters, Bumett, Lamm and Lucas (209) state that social networking sites, such as face book, twitter, and MySpace have allowed organizations to create their profiles and publicize the information about their existing brands or new products.
Delta State University is one of the state universities in Nigeria and it is situated in Abraka, with student population 36,000 according to DELSU Wikipedia. It was established on 30th April 1992 by the then Executive Governor of the State, Olorogun Felix Ibru. The university is composed of ten faculties including the College Faculty of Basic Medical Sciences; others are Faculty of Arts, Education, Sciences, Social Sciences, Agriculture, Management Sciences, law and Engineering.
Delta State University, Abraka has been historically recorded as a centre of education. It started as Government Teachers Training College during the colonial era and some years into the post-colonial era. It became College of Education (N.C.E) from 1971-1985 that awarded Nigerian Certificate of Education. It was affiliated to the University of Benin, Benin City and consequently offered degree programmes form 1981 till 1985 when it became the Faculty of education of the then Bendel State University with its main campus at Anwai, Oleh, and the main Campus in Abraka.
1.2 Statement of Problem
In an increasingly rising economic environment and its abundant competition, with cost rising against profit, many organizations face the challenge of projecting an acceptable image to the public. Ikpe and Olise (2010) aver that organization need to adopt some measures to ensure that reputation of their organizations product and service are enhanced, at the same time established and sustain mutual relationship with their public. Among the measures is the new technological innovation; the social media. The dynamic nature of social media has influenced public relations activities of higher institution, thereby assisting public relations officers to work effectively in covering a good sum of its publics who are the students, parents, government and host community.
However, the inherent issues of the social media has affected the practice of public relations, such as that propaganda, distrust information, impersonation and cybercrime have often been mistaken for public relations practice. This has cause unimaginable loss of integrity and public confidence. Due to the lack of regulations, information from public relations officers of higher institutions in social media are regarded as distrust.
This study seeks to examine the place of social media in public relations practice in Delta State University.
1.3 Objectives of the Study
The objectives of this study are:
- To examine the contribution of social media to the practice of public relation in Delta State university and Novena university
- To determine the frequency of usage of social media by public relation officers in Delta State University.
- To ascertain the challenges of social media in public relations practices of Delta State University.
- To determine the prospect of social media in the practice of public relations.
1.4 Research Questions
- What are the contributions of social media to the practice of Public Relations in Delta State University?
- What is the frequency of usage of social media by public relations officers in Delta State University?
- What are the challenges of social media in public relations practice of Delta State University?
- What are the prospects of social media in the practice of public relations in the Delta State Universaity?
1.5 Significance of the Study
The study on the place of social media on the practice of public relations in Delta State University is expected to contribute to knowledge on subject matter. The study provides researched support on on the contributions of social media to public relations practice. it also determines the frequency of usage of social media by university authority and ascertain the possible challenges and way to alleviate it.
1.6 Scope of the Study
The scope for this study is limited to one university in Delta State owned by Delta State Government. The period of time for this study covers a 12 months which commerce from Jan to Dec 2015.
1.7 Definition of Terms
1. Public Relations: The art and science of establishing, maintaining relationship between two or more parties through a well defined communication.
2. Social Media: Social networking sites use by people to established relationship and communication.
3. Practices: The art of engaging in a particular thing for a defined purpose.
4. Higher Institution: School of higher learning for students properly university, polytechnic and college of education.