The use of internet and social media to engage in international public relations carry both benefits as well as risks. One of the obvious benefits is cost savings because historically, many company had to hire external PR agencies but now social media has given companies more control over their PR activities. Another benefit is higher speed and response rate (Swallow) because social media has been embraced by private and professional users all over the world. Another benefit of using internet and social media for international public relations is wider reach. Digital press releases do not only reach intended audience but also accessed by others through links on influential websites and blogs (Smith). As a result, the overall return on cost is higher than traditional press releases. Another benefit is that internet and social media enable companies to quantitatively measure the impact of their international public relations activities which is not possible or quite expensive in case of traditional public relations channels.
One of the risks in using internet for international public relations is language issue. Internet enables companies to improve the efficiency of their international public relations activities but it has also resulted in some loss of control. One great example is IKEA whose pillow product’s Swedish name translates as “cuddle rape” into English. One of the customer posted the translated name on Reddit (Malm), resulting in negative publicity for the company. Another risk of using internet and social media for international public relations is that mistakes are often very difficult to reverse as well as costly because information is disseminated over the internet at a rapid pace.
Malm, Sara. ‘Cuddle Rape’? IKEA left red-faced after online translator gives one of its pillows a rather unfortunate name. 15 April 2013. 16 July 2013 <http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2309630/Cuddle-Rape-IKEA-left-red-faced-online-translator-gives-pillow-unfortunate-name.html>.
Smith, Craig. 3 Important Benefits of Digital Public Relations (Infographic). 14 November 2012. 16 July 2013 <http://socialmediatoday.com/index.php?q=craigpsmith/997891/3-important-benefits-digital-public-relations-infographic>.
Swallow, Erica. The Future of Public Relations and Social Media. 16 August 2010. 16 July 2013 <http://mashable.com/2010/08/16/pr-social-media-future/>.