Is Social Media Really the Answer? How Issues Create Communities and Communities Create Issues Online

Renae Desai, Katharina Wolf


Public relations scholars have emphasised the role of the Internet, and in particular
social media, as a new and effective way for communication professionals to
engage with stakeholders on social issues. However, beyond conceptual papers,
there has been limited to no empirical evidence that online spaces are indeed more
effective when aiming to engage diverse, dispersed communities. This paper aims
to address this gap, by examining the social media activities of two seemingly
dissimilar communities: the Australian Asbestos Network and the West Australian
Anti Nuclear Movement. The authors conclude that in an online advocacy context,
communities create issues, as opposed to congregate around carefully crafted
communications messages.


new media, advocacy, social issues, public relations, virtual communities

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The University of Newcastle
ISSN - 1839-8227