Influencing electronic word-of-mouth communication: getting beyond the skepticism of social media
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This study addresses the uneasiness that public relations (PR) professionals are experiencing regarding word-of-month (WOM) communication and the growing phenomenon of electronic WOM. That uneasiness is based on the notion that companies and brands no longer control their message. Instead, consumers, who communicate with other consumers, have seized control. However, this study indicates that companies and brands can retain some control of the message if they properly engage their consumers. While eWOM communication is growing and evolving, this study finds that consumers remain skeptical about eWOM messages. They crave supporting information before deciding how to act or behave. This is where PR professionals come into play. If they can successfully engage their consumers and interact with them through avenues such as social media, they can be effective in influencing eWOM communication. The study finds that persuasive eWOM communication requires supporting evidence. It is the PR professional's responsibility to provide information that can influence the eWOM communication about their product. Several tactics outlined in this study can help PR professionals accomplish this objective.