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Web 2.0: Limitations for PR practitioners in Political campaigns

by on April 12, 2013

Web 2.0, a term coined by Tim O’Rielly in 2005, presents multiple opportunities for PR Practitioners as it enables a new way for Government figures to use two way symmetric communication with their publics. This also means that publics become content creators and not just content consumers, which was often the norm in traditional media. This allows incredibly useful feedback, which can sometimes create issues for Government figures and their PR teams.  

Web 2.0 and the rise of social media has incredible power in that it is a useful tool for building close relationships with publics, a characteristic that is highly beneficial to PR Practitioners working in with Government figures. Web 2.0 allows two way symmetric communication and engagement with publics however, Sutherland and Robson (2012: 104), highlight that often social media is used primarily for message dissemination and that it is not being used to its full potential.

Web 2.0 is quickly shifting the ways that political communication works; public participation and engagement with the political through social media is increasing democracy (Macnamara, 2010: 3). This also means that there is an increase of responsibility and a high expectation placed on PR Practitioners and the Government figures they represent for honesty and authenticity in their web 2.0 presence.

PR techniques, strategies and tactics are a relatively new field in web 2.0, with only a few precedent cases. A lot of web 2.0 campaigns are based on trial and error methods. This can potentially be dangerous for Government figures using social media to connect with publics in order to boost votes.

A recent example of the implications web 2.0 can have on a political campaign could be observed in the 2012 Presidential election campaign in the USA. Mitt Romeny was seen to have many followers and ‘likes’ however had little engagement with publics. His web 2.0 platforms were used as message dissemination service (One way symmetric communication). Barack Obama on the other hand had littler numbers and high engagement with followers. This highlights the importance of engagement with publics through web 2.0 platforms. 




Public Relations, Government, Political PR Campaigns, Obama, Romeny, Social Media, Web 2.0.



Chavez, J, 2012, ‘#Fail: The Misuse of Social Media in the 2012 US Presidential Campaign’, SocialSphere, accessed 10 April 2013,


Macnamara, J, 2010, ‘Public communication practices in the Web 2.0-3.0 mediascape: The case for PRevolution’, PRis, Vol 7(3), viewed April 10 2013,


O’Rielly, T, 2005, ‘What is web 2.0?’, O’Rielly, viewed 11 April 2013,


Robson, P., Sutherland, K., 2012, ‘Public relations practitioners and social media: themes in a global context’, World PR Forum, Melbourne, viewed April 10 2013,


Sastre, L, 2012, ‘Social Media Lessons from Mitt Romney and Barack Obama’, Optimum 7, viewed April 10 2013,


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