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Citation Information

Type Thesis or Dissertation - Master of Arts
Title Public relations via Twitter: an analysis of South African commercial organisations
Publication (Day/Month/Year) 2015
URL https://open.uct.ac.za/bitstream/handle/11427/13768/thesis_hum_2015_moyo_l.pdf?sequence=1
Background: As more people are using mobile phones to receive and read news, Twitter has
become a popular communication tool, particularly for commercial brands in South Africa. This
thesis investigates twelve South African organisations’ use of Twitter. It portrays Twitter as an
informational network that allows conversational communication. It seeks to identify how
commercial brands in South Africa use Twitter as a public relations/communication tool.
Aim and Objective: In attempt to learn whether current South African tweets among certain
organisations follow Western practices of public relations, the study aims to understand and
identify how commercial brands in South Africa communicate with their publics through
Twitter. Revealing the content of these organisations’ tweets facilitated the fulfilment of this
Methods: This study used a qualitative content analysis with a convient sampling technique to
analyse 2,000 tweets from the 12 organisations. The content analysis helped to reveal whether
the tweets reflected the models of public relations communication provided by Grunig and Hunt
(1984). The qualitative aspect of the content analysis helped to make meaning from the content
provided in the tweets.
Results: The findings reveal that organisations are posting a wide range of content of both an
informational and promotional nature, more so informational (996/50%). The findings also show
that public relations practices in South Africa follow Western influences, as tweets using the
models were comparable to the findings of Grunig and Hunt’s (1984) four models. However,
there is room for South African organisations to use culture specific models like Ubuntu to
communicate with their publics to achieve two-way communication which was only found in
332 (17%) of tweets analysed. These findings are significant for acknowledging the role of
social media, particularly Twitter, in public relations efforts within South Africa.

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