MA Thesis — summary and slides

The Internet is not a single piece of technology, it is a collection of tools and mechanisms that allow us to communicate and which are faster and more diverse each day. The impact of technology in society is hard to measure or describe, but the bottom line is that the Internet meant the end of the scarcity of information and of ways to communicate.

In practical terms, this means we have changed the way we relate to each other, that collaboration is easier than ever and that groups form and mobilize faster than corporations can react. Professionals in different fields applied their time and effort to understand and adapt to these changes, with the common ground being the need to understand the behaviour of Online Groups and Publics.

Among all the factors that affect Individuals and Groups, Values stand out as being deeply rooted in Human Nature guiding our choices and behaviour. Thus, our values and values system are an important variable in both group forming and the choice of groups to which we choose to belong. The use of technology to communicate does not change what has been at the core of Human Behaviour, it simply serves as a facilitator of different acts of communication and collaboration.

The Values System model aims to be multidisciplinary framework for Public Relations, where by means of the identification of values that are shared to a greater or lesser extent we are able to identify Publics and to map them according to a Values System. The method used to ascertain online values opens up the possibility to assess and monitor corporate communication in real time at both the strategic and tactical levels.

The Theoretical basis of this model comes from different areas and authors, among them HofstedeRokeach, David Phillips, Camarinha-Matos and Macedo and it attempts to respond to The Authentic Enterprise Report by the Arthur W. Page Society. This report states that Leadership in defining and instilling company values is the top priority for Chief Communication Officers. With this in mind, our approach referred to a series of disciplines as a means to describe and apply the concept in Public Relations and specifically Online PR.

Using the British Olympic Association as a case study and by looking at how we show Values online it was possible to identify a Values System coincident with the existence of online Publics and Groups. At the same time, it was possible to get a snapshot on how the communication of the British Olympic Association is perceived and responded to.

For the first time, we are able to obtain a quantifiable and real time assessment of corporate communication campaigns, independent of the communication tools and instruments that we choose to apply. As a result of these findings we are forced to question what is corporate identity, how it is built and how it should be maintained. For Public Relations research and practice, we are opening the door to a new perspective on the dynamics of Publics.

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