Creating and maintaining mutually beneficial relationships between organisations and their publics is at the core of public relations practice. Social media networking sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, have created new opportunities to foster these relationships through mediated interactions. If organisations and publics both participate in these interactions with a dialogic orientation, they are likely to have an authentic engagement that creates mutual benefits. A dialogic orientation requires an inclination towards communicating on topics of shared interest and encouraging participation from others to name a few. However, research suggests that the dialogic potential of social media has not yet been reached by many organisations. Although publics favour content that encourages interaction and community-building, organisations continue to use social media as a cost-effective channel to promote their image. Arts organisations are known to conduct impression management to emphasise the experiential nature of their creative products. They use public relations messages to impart symbolic meanings that are attractive and informative, and which encourage publics to co-create by sharing their experiences. We applied thematic analysis to three months of Facebook posts and their accompanying comments of New Zealand’s national ballet, opera, and orchestra to determine what was the nature of messages shared by the organisations, and what sorts of responses were engendered amongst the publics. We contend that the arts organisations’ use of Facebook is not effectively building authentic relationships between the organisations and their stakeholders. Instead, the communication enforces power imbalances by being promotional and one-way attempts at impression management.
Angelique Nairn, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand
Deepti Bhargava, Auckland University of Technology, New Zealand