Public Relations (PR) often has a wall of confusion surrounding it… The biggest question that comes up most often is what it means. Often, people think that PR is just media relations, when it reality it is so much more. PR is any type of strategy that helps you connect with your public. It can involve media relations, influencer relations, experiential marketing, events, and so much more – even social media.
Technology, especially social media, has changed the way we do a lot of things. When it comes to PR, PR pros need to look beyond the tradition tactics of the past to utilize social media to connect with public audiences on a deeper level.
Here are eight ways social media has changed the way we look at PR strategies.
1: New channels available
The customer journey is now more important than ever because marketing strategies should touch on multiple channels. You need to know how your audience uses social media and other online channels so you can incorporate that into how you reach out to them.
Each channel is equally important for different reasons depending on your overall marketing and PR objectives, however, you need to ensure that you are developing and implementing a multi-channel strategy. This way, your audience will have multiple touch-points with your brand.
2: Influencer relations
Social media has brought an onslaught of new ways to amplify your message when it comes to PR – especially influencer relations. Individuals who have built a sphere of trust and influence around them via social media allow you to have them tell your story for you so you can reach their entire audience.
3: Bypass the media
When I first started in PR years ago, a prominent journalist told me PR pros are going to have to figure out ways to cut the media out if they want consistent buzz/coverage. While she wasn’t saying that the media is dead, she was simply saying that it will become more important for PR strategies to diversify the tactics used. Social media allows you to get your message out there consistently without relying on third parties to do it for you.
4: Controlling the narrative
If you are bypassing the media or other third parties to get your message out there, you aren’t relying on someone else to tell your story. This means you can retain a greater amount of control over your brand story. Of course, there are draw backs to this sort of strategy. For example, you have to do a bit more work to reach a larger audience because you aren’t able to lean on a third party’s network. This means you need to grow your audience yourself either through paid social media or organically.
5: More dialogue, less announcing
Social media allows for two-way dialogue and instant interaction and excitement building. Announcements are meant to be interactive rather than as an isolated press release put out over the wire. Of course, certain industries use press releases as a means of regulated communication with stakeholders, but in many industries, press releases aren’t even necessary anymore.
Traditional media content – earned media – is now used as part of the overall social media content strategy as a means of providing social proof. This helps to grow your audience and create better audience connections.
6: 24/7 connection
Your audiences are looking for brands to respond quickly or they lose interest. In many cases, this means 24/7 monitoring or, at the very least, establishing guidelines so they know what to expect from you in terms of response times. Your PR strategy should be dictated by when your audience is online so you can garner higher engagement levels, which leads to positive, sustained buzz about your brand.
7: Relationship-building with media & influencers
While your goal should be to connect with your audience online, when it comes to PR, social media also allows you to connect with media and influencer contacts in a more informal way. The majority of media contacts you will find are active on social media – in fact, they look for stories and breaking news on social channels. So social media can affect your PR strategy in three ways:
- If you are active and generating interesting content on social media, there is a good chance a media contact will reach out to you directly.
- You won’t be a stranger to your targeted media contacts when you pitch via email if you have already interacted with them on social media.
- A lot of journalists accept pitches via social media – make sure you do your research before going this route!
8: Thought leadership
It should be a goal of yours to be recognized as a brand or individual as the go-to expert in your industry. To do so, you need to build up a thought leadership platform to showcase your expertise. While before you had to rely solely on media or other third party channels to gain recognition, digital channels have changed the game. There is more opportunity to build up credibility and trust among your target audience on your own. You can choose to focus on building a great reputation first and that will often get traditional media outlets to take notice.
Technology is constantly changing the way we do things. In the case of PR, social media has drastically affected how we build and execute strategies. It is better to have a balanced approach of traditional and digital than rely too heavily on one or the other.
If you aren’t sure how you can blend your social media and PR strategies to get the best results, be sure to give us a call and we can help you build and implement a killer strategy.