Archive for April, 2009

Produsage: the ultimate PR tool?

In laymans terms, produsage has converted the traditional industrial model of production from producer -> distributor-> consumer, to the producer and the consumer, more often than not, being the same person.  Academic, Dr Axel Bruns, provides extensive discussion on the topic of produsage in his book Blogs, Wikipedia, Second Life and beyond: from production to produsage.  Bruns explains ‘in collaborative communities the creation of shared content takes place in a networked, participatory environment which breaks down the boundaries between producers and consumers and instead enables all participants to be users as well as producers of information and knowledge – frequently in a hybrid role of produser where usage is necessarily also productive’.  

So what are some examples of produsage?  As the title of Brun’s book suggests, blogging, Wikipedia and Second Lifeare all examples of produsage at work.  Other examples include online, multi-user computer games such as The Sims.  Produsage is also common in collaborative online publishing covering specialised topics as well as the world-wide network of Independent Media Centres.  This phenomenon is commonly referred to as citizen journalism.

Public relations(PR)/communications is one professional area where produsage has transformed traditional practices.  Practitioners are tapping into the new media technology that allows them to reach their publics on a different level. 

Produsage in social media enables communities of people with similar interests to come together despite geographical and social differences.  What better way for PR practitioners to communicate (and let’s face it – that’s what they do!) to a target public?    The Institute for Public Relations recognises that communicating to publics through blogs and other social media is an effective way of reaching a greater audience. 

Organisations are spreading their PR wings and delving into the world of new media with great enthusiasm.  Mycyclopedia discusses how organisations are discovering that through communicating directly with their publics via blogs and social networking sites, they have been able to overcome previously debilitating obstacles such as geographic and social diversity.

It is flexible and has the ability to allow people to communicate directly with the organisation.  Subsequently, this allows people and communities to become involved with the organisation on a particular level.

This involvement and interaction between the organisation and its publics, creates a gold mine for PR.  It enables practitioners to evaluate publics’ perceptions of the organisation and the issues facing it.  Practitioners are then able to use this information to guage whether or not campaigns and communications are on target.  They are also able to delve into the information being provided by the publics to adapt these campaigns and communications if needed.

Produsage supports the two-way communications models.  It is purely up to the organisation’s PR as to whether it is symmetric or asymmetric – the information is available. 

Adversely, there is a common public perception that produsage in online media leads to inaccuracies, lack of credibility and ethical issues.  Produsage and new media complement rather than substitute traditional media and therefore practitioners can address this through streamlining their traditional media with new media i.e. provide continuity in messages, art and other techniques across the mediums – people will check!  Once online credibility is established, these techniques can be adapted to online audiences.

A new dimension in PR has been created and practitioners need to embrace it to ensure that their publics do not leave them behind!