Smartphones, Publics and OPR: Do Publics Want to Engage?

Avidar, Ruth; Ariel, Yaron; Malka, Vered; & Levy, C. Eilat (2015). Smartphones, publics, and OPR: Do publics want to engage? Public Relations Review, 41(2), 214-221.

Summary

Smartphones offer new opportunities for public-organization engagement. The current study focuses on the actual usage of smartphones, as well as users’ willingness to engage with organizations via smartphones. A survey among a representative sample of 515 Israeli smartphone users, and sixty personal, in-depth interviews with undergraduate students were conducted. The findings show that interaction between organizations and publics through smartphones exists, but at a lower rate compared to other activities, and that users perceive engagement as beneficial primarily for organizations but as less beneficial to themselves. The findings also emphasize the importance of practicing participatory engagement rather than one-way engagement.

Method                                 

Both qualitative and quantitative analyses were employed. First, a survey among a representative sample of 515 Israeli smartphone users was conducted. Second, sixty personal, in-depth interviews with undergraduate students were conducted.

Key Findings

  • Smartphones are largely used for interaction-based purposes, including interacting with friends and family through voice calls, text messaging, social networks and e-mails, as well as for Internet-surfing and entertainment.
  • Interaction between organizations and publics through smartphones exists, but at a lower rate compared to other activities.
  • More than half (54%) of the respondents “never” or “rarely” use their smartphones to engage with businesses and nonprofit associations.
  • Nearly half (48%) of the respondents completely ignore or immediately erase messages sent by businesses or nonprofit associations.
  • Users perceive engagement as beneficial primarily for organizations.

Implications for Practice

The findings emphasize the importance of practicing participatory engagement rather than one-way communication. We suggest that practitioners offer valuable content to the public via their organizational applications aiming to benefit users and encourage them to view themselves as equal partners and co-creators of engagement in an optimal situation. It is recommended that public relations practitioners use various engagement strategies that enhance users’ ability to interact with their immediate environments and to gain personal benefits.

Article Location

The full article is available at:http://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0363811114001933

Posted in [Research Library], Mobile, New Technology / Social Media and tagged , , .

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