Digital Public Relations and The Transformation of IdentitiesHatice Burcu Önder Memiş
As digitalization has led to the transformation of many fields, it has also played a key role in the evolution of public relations. In particular, the fact that social media facilitates direct communication with institutions, managers, and other identities without the need for any other intermediary is among the main factors influencing this transformation. Digitalization has changed the target groups. Target groups now have more access to information. The information flowing through many channels has increased the abilities of individuals to question, research, learn the reasons, think critically, challenge, give immediate feedback, and react. The diversity of thoughts that emerges in the face of events has allowed the intensification of comparisons, reasoning and sharing them in all kinds of digital media. Thus, a virtual environment has been created in which individuals can come together and discuss their ideas freely and share their different interpretations or new information immediately. These virtual environments are as effective for communication as the environments where individuals are physically next to each other. At times, they help facilitate the physical gatherings of many people as in the case of popular uprisings in the Middle East and Egypt. Another significant aspect of digital platforms is the assumption that such digital platforms, as well as anything posted on such platforms, have the potential to transform the identity of individuals. Today, individuals tend to define themselves and who they are through knowledge sharing, posts, and feedback, in addition to their standing and attitudes towards an issue on such platforms. What does this mean for public relations? As a matter of course, the first answer to this question is to meet the target groups of these new identities in the right digital platforms and convey the right messages in these environments. Thus, the information needs of target audiences with new identities are met through the right platforms. At the same time, public relations also find the opportunity to reach the symmetrical communication it aims to achieve.