Does research on digital public relations indicate a paradigm shift? An analysis and critique of recent trends

Research output: Journal Publications and Reviews (RGC: 21, 22, 62)21_Publication in refereed journalpeer-review

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1364-1376
Journal / PublicationTelematics and Informatics
Issue number7
Online published12 Aug 2016
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2017
Externally publishedYes


This study analyzes 141 articles published between 2008 and 2014 in order to determine whether public relations (PR) research has undergone a paradigm shift resulted from the rise of social media. Compared with digital PR research before 2008, we find that 1) social media have become a major research topic while remaining a secondary concern of many PR practitioners; 2) digital PR studies are gradually shifting from description to theorization; 3) the examined studies witnessed a general trend of methodological diversification but this trend needs to continue in order for scholars to better describe, predict, and explain how digital PR should be organized and practiced; and 4) digital PR research frameworks are dominated by the organizational perspective, whereas increasing attention has been paid to organizations in the nonprofit sector. Compared to digital PR research before 2008, our findings suggest that the development of digital technology in recent years has brought about changes in PR research such that the research paradigm is presently shifting and acts as a competing paradigm but has not yet shifted completely. © 2016 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

Research Area(s)

  • Digital public relations, Paradigm shift, Research trends, Social media