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The Business of Influence: Reframing Marketing and PR for the Digital Age by PHILIP SHELDRAKE

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A New Stakeholder

Perhaps we have also found a new stakeholder in our framework, an individual who did not know she was a stakeholder until … hang on there, look, she just shared that link. And she also added a little comment. Atoms of influence.

She is the modern manifestation of the netizen, a term coined by Michael Hauben in 1992 and described by him in the preface to a book by the IEEE on the topic43:

These people understand the value of collective work and the communal aspects of public communications. These are the people who discuss and debate topics in a constructive manner, who e-mail answers to people and provide help to new-comers, who maintain FAQ files and other public information repositories, who maintain mailing lists, and so on. These are people who discuss the nature and role of this new communications medium. These are the people who act as citizens of the Net.

This new stakeholder requires clear differentiation from the others in order to be relevant here. Netizens are not ‘online publics’ in the normal ‘digital PR’ context; such groups are simply the usual stakeholders with Internet access. Rather, netizens are stakeholders because they are online and because they are willing to act in ways that represent their moral compass so to speak – their feelings for what is right and wrong, or good and bad. Or perhaps they act simply on what makes them happy or sad, excited or chillaxed. The netizen is a most complex being whose responses boil down to a synaptic-like ...

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