The public relations field requires a need for understanding the thoughts and behaviors of your audience. The media uses and gratifications theory, developed by Blumler and Katz, looks at understanding what people do with media outlets. Katz, Blumler, and Gurevitch (1974) describe the concept as one that is concerned with “the social and psychological origins of needs, which generate expectations of the mass media or other sources, which lead to differential patterns of media exposure (or engagement in other activities), resulting in need gratifications and other consequences, perhaps mostly unintended ones.”
This theory “attempts to explain the uses and functions of the media for individuals, groups, and society in general” (University of Twente, 2004, Uses and Gratifications Approach). This theory suggests that audiences are responsible for selecting media outlets that best fulfills their needs and that media outlets are used by the audience to fulfill specific gratifications.
An example of the media uses and gratifications theory can be found within the use of social networking sites. These sites have many different users and offer people various things. These outlets are utilized by thousands of people every day with the intention of achieving the unique gratification that individuals seek and experience from the use of such sites.
Katz, Blumler, & Gurevitch (1974) as cited by Rubin, Haridakis, & Eyal (2003). Viewer Aggression and Attraction to Television Talk Shows. Media Psychology, 5, 331-362.
University of Twente. (2004). Uses and Gratifications Approach. Retrieved from http://www.cw.utwente.nl/theorieenoverzicht/Theory%20clusters/Communication%20and%20Information%20Technology/Uses_and_Gratifications_Approach-1.doc/