PR 2.0 and the blogosphere : public relations towards the next phase of e-commerce

Sammanfattning: With the introduction of Web 2.0 blogging has established its place in the PR lexicon. Especially blogs that offer reviews of products, services and technologies, have become essential to practitioners of public relations in their dialogue with the market place. However, PR literature shows that blogs are not yet considered as a standard public relations tool. Some researchers have noted that practitioners are not actually taking full advantage of the potential of the blogs but instead they are taking a wait-and-see attitude toward blogs. This may be because they are still contemplating to what extent blog readers believe in blogs or how skeptical they are towards them. Perhaps most PR professionals are still buzzing about to what extent blog readers perceive blogs as a cognitive authority. From a public relations perspective, it is essential to investigate whether blog readers perceive blogs as a credible and trustworthy source, and examine how credible and trustworthy they are to regular blog readers. To shed some light on this uncertainty, from a public relations perspective this dissertation principally focuses on validating scales to measure the key persuasion attributes such as source credibility, source trustworthiness, consumers’ skepticism and beliefs toward blogs that review products, services and technologies. This thesis also explores the effect of compensation or sponsorship disclosure and the level of certainty expressed in product review blogs on persuasion. The findings show that these scales seem to possess robust psychometric properties and in general they can be used as a measurement tool to gauge these constructs towards blogs. Also, the findings confirmed that the incongruity between compensation disclosure and source certainty could create a more effective message and enhance greater persuasion. In addition, the studies in this dissertation empower PR managers to perform improved environmental scanning with the aim of customer groupings and target segmentation. Overall, theses studies provide PR specialists with some insight on how blogs are being interpreted among different demographics. This dissertation discusses certain managerial implications for public relations professionals; it provides a commentary on the limitations and suggests future research possibilities.

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