IN SYNC: A CYBERPSYCHOLOGICAL ANALYSIS OF EDELMAN DIGITAL EXAMINING ITS DEVELOPMENT OF CONSUMER TRUST, LOYALTY AND INFORMATION DISSEMINATION
Since the inception of the World Wide Web in the late 1980s, public relations firms and their clients have benefited from a valuable platform allowing for instant and global communication. Essential social engagement tools such as trust, loyalty and information dissemination have been transferred from a physical, non-mediated environment to a virtual, technology mediated one. Therefore, it is now vital that public relations practitioners understand the emerging field of cyberpsychology and the important elements that nurture e-Trust, e-Loyalty and Positive Virality. Through qualitative research methods, e-Trust, e-Loyalty and Positive Virality are comprehensively and conceptually defined. Each is also operationally defined in terms of number of users, number of followers and number of tweets, shares or media impressions. A Cyber-Success Model is proposed as a way to explain how these three digital components may work together to achieve a high degree of public engagement. The specific conceptual and operational criteria as well as the Cyber-Success Model are then used to evaluate public engagement with regard to Edelman Digital campaigns executed for clients PayPal and Ebay as examples of how the model is applied. Conclusions and future recommendations for Edelman Digital, the field of public relations and the field of cyberpsychology are discussed.