Complexity theory as a new lens for digital social advocacy.

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From: Public Relations Review(Vol. 47, Issue 3)
Publisher: Elsevier Advanced Technology Publications
Document Type: Report; Brief article
Length: 314 words

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Abstract :

Keywords Complexity; Social media; Advocacy communication; Public relations Highlights * Complexity theory applied to strategic long-term relationship building in advocacy through social media. * Qualitative interviews to understand practices, reasonings, and perceptions of social media directors from 25 advocacy organizations. * Complexity offers nonlinear, holistic thinking & planning for strategic communication with a wide variety of audiences. * Importance of both past and future when building relationships via social media, including that posts can and will be referenced far into the future. * Includes theoretical, practical, and pedagogical implications. Abstract This study uses the principles of complexity theory to interrogate how communicators for advocacy organizations facilitate discussions and plan for strategic long-term relationship building on social media. Through 25 semi-structured interviews with advocacy communicators, we offer a deeper understanding of how theory, pedagogy, and practice can all best consider the impact of concepts like fluid boundaries, nonlinearity, emergence, diversity, and interdependence in digital social advocacy communication. We conclude by discussing why and how communicators should focus not just on the present imperatives, but also the impact of the past and the needs of the future in relationship building in digital spaces, including a new theoretical subset of nonlinearity called eternal return. Complexity theory provides insight for how to think in an interdependent way about strategic use and theoretical development of social media, creating moments of current engagement and a space for future resources. Practical and pedagogical implications are discussed. Author Affiliation: (a) University of Memphis, 306 Meeman Journalism Building, Memphis, TN 38152, United States (b) Pennsylvania State University, 220 Carnegie Building, University Park, PA 16802, United States (c) Reed College of Media, West Virginia University, 1511 University Ave., Morgantown, WV 26506, United States * Corresponding author. Article History: Received 2 June 2019; Revised 20 January 2021; Accepted 13 April 2021 Byline: Melissa Janoske McLean [mljnoske@memphis.edu] (a), Stephanie Madden [szm962@psu.edu] (b), Geah Pressgrove [Geah.Pressgrove@mail.wvu.edu] (c)

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A662598811