The Impact Of Social Media On PR (Guide)

The extensive use of social media has drastically changed the way people communicate and share information. It has had a huge impact not only on people, but also on brands across industries as they devise strategies to engage their audiences and win their loyalty. PR is no different as professionals constantly seek to communicate with and hear from customers, who are ever-present and active on social media.

Social media has had significant effects on the strategic communication industry. In the public relations field, social media give professionals easier access to journalists and news media outlets. For example, it is becoming common for public relations professionals to reach out to reporters via Twitter.

In a recent study done by ING, it was reported that 81% of PR professionals feel they can no longer do their job without social media. 78% of them felt it was important to their daily work. On the flip side, 78% of journals feel they can no longer do their job without social media. 50% of them admit that when they use social media, they do not feel the need to fact-check.

In order to succeed on social media, you will need to become a conversational brand. Only then will you be able to build a strong base of audience. Once you’ve developed that, they will be able to follow your page and receive updates about your brand as and when you post them. Social media means that interaction with people or customers in a much more direct path.

And with the various marketing tools available through platforms like Facebook, both public relations and advertising can be specifically targeted for your unique customer base. Even further, the more you interact with your target audience, the more your social media posts will be seen by your audience.

Gone are the days when most PR firms stuck strictly to PR work. That is because social media efforts require the full team. Because social media comprises so many elements, it is forcing many different PR firms to broaden the scope of their organizations. PR agencies are integrating advertising people, digital marketing people, and big data specialists into their teams to provide a complete package for their customers.

Social media is not going away, in fact, you can expect its impact to increase over time. You’ll need to think bigger, do more, and constantly look for those stories that can become game-changers in your business and for your clients, that is the future of PR work. Social media also provides the means to save money when trying to reach prospective clients because you won’t be paying for people who aren’t interested to see your stories.

Maybe you have been in the PR field long enough to remember the more straightforward, pre-digital discipline, maybe you’ve learned about PR in an academic setting, or maybe you are a witness to this incredible change in a way that people consume content and interact. Regardless of your experience or how you specialize within the PR discipline, social media has changed what you do including more direct contact with people. 

With the ease of opening an account on any number of social media platforms as well as creating a blog – everyone looks for stories that create a bond with their audience. And if possible, these stories have not been told before.

PR is no longer able to shoot out the same story for every journalist to use. But, the good news is that when you get this right, the entire world can start sharing your article for you.


How To Leverage Social Media To Control Your PR Message

Full Integration With PR - Keeping up to date on social media technologies and frequently measuring the effectiveness of digital and traditional tactics to communicate your message.

User Co-Creation Of PR Messages - The key for PR professionals is to interject your point-of-view into this process. It is such an important aspect of PR that in the text book Public Relations Theory II, professors Carl H. Botan and Vincent Hazleton say this about co-created messaging:
“We are confident that co-creation – the ideas that publics are self-standing and often a self-directing force in public relations — will be at the core of developmental theory in the next decade or two.”

Hyperlocalized Pr Messaging - Consider the advanced parameters that you can use when targeting an audience on social media:

  • Behavior
  • Interests
  • Education
  • Connections

All of this as well as being able to target a zip code level, along with traditional parameters such as gender. This level of precision allows for more sophistication and efficiency in PR campaigns.

Many campaigns effectively use social media to produce beneficial effects. In 2011, KFC created a public relations campaign aimed at strengthening its relationship with young consumers and enhancing its brand reputation. The campaign launched a contest that awarded a $20,000 scholarship to an individual with the best tweet using the hashtag #KFCScholar. 

The contest generated more than 1,000 media placements, 2,800 applications, and a 20 percent increase in KFC’s following on Twitter (Black, 2011). This example demonstrates the utility of using social media to create reputation and relationship management campaigns.

Social media is not going away, in fact, you can expect its impact to increase over time. You’ll need to think bigger, do more, and constantly look for those stories that can become game-changers in your business and for your clients, that is the future of PR work.

The integration of traditional PR and social isn’t merely a philosophical discussion: nearly 65 percent of all PR departments are responsible for the social media presence of their companies. Businesses that fail to use social media to manage their reputations may not only lose reach in the digital world, but may not even be noticed amid all the noise. 

For PR purposes, few modern mediums pack the same punch as social media. Social media has come a long way from the days of Friendster and Myspace. With the introduction of Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest and so many other newer platforms, it has become as much a professional staple as a personal one.

For direct engagement with both customers and the press, social media is perfect for both. It eliminates the walls between members of the public and a brand, shortens the time a company has to react to relevant stories, and blurs the line between marketing and public relations. Often, public relations and marketing professionals' roles overlap on social media.

Social media platform like Twitter can now serve as the primary channel for a business, brand or celebrity to release official information about itself. The lesson here is clear. Regardless of professional public relations support, all businesses can use their social media accounts to help manage public opinion. Don't wait for others to create stories about your brand.

Create interest with some public relations influencing tactics. Create flattering and engaging stories about your brand, react to other large stories, and react publicly to negative comments. Think like a public relations expert and create content like a marketer on social media to boost your reputation and earn new followers.

For brand reasoning, explanations, and crisis response, modern public relations professionals may look to social media as the first line of defence in an increasingly connected world.


Here Are Few Tips To Get You Started:

Publish Social-Media Friendly Content: A great option are case studies. Case studies are some of the most powerful quantifiers you can use on the web. Not only do they present clear, concise data, but they also offer perspective in the results. More than that, if you present it in the right way you can elicit an emotional response that will prompt engagement and potentially sharing.

If you look at the case studies provided by other companies, you will notice how often those studies are shared and cited by major media outlets. For example, The Wall Street Journal is notorious for sharing case studies of companies of many sizes and influence. Add in visuals, and you have the perfect content for social sharing, all with the aim of improving PR and brand image.

Seek Bloggers' Coverage: Blogosphere is the perfect link between social media and PR, as bloggers are active on social media and many of them are closely monitored by journalists. Here are few ways to get mentioned by popular bloggers:

Be A Contributor: Guest posting at a well-known blog is a good way to get media coverage.

Provide Your Expertise: Being featured in an expert interview is a good way to make yourself more discoverable by journalists looking for quotes on a topic. MyBlogU offers you an easy way to participate in expert round-ups and find solo interview opportunities on niche blogs. Using the platform, you'll see your name cited again and again by niche bloggers and if you are lucky enough by journalists too!

Get Your Service Or Product Reviewed: Blogger reviews work great for potential media coverage as well. Whether you pro-actively seek coverage or not, your product will probably be reviewed by users anyways. There are lots of online generators and platforms that give users that ability. 

Again, the question is, whether or not you want to control the message and make more of user reviews by approaching power niche bloggers. Platforms like Tomoson help you get your product or giveaway featured on niche blogs which increases your chances to be noticed by journalists.

Connect With The Press On Social Media: The media picks up a shocking amount of information from the web these days: Not just details to enhance stories but entire stories. Reddit has been used by major publications to source interesting stories. Twitter trends and hashtags are covered by major news outlets. Social media sites have become a solid part of journalism.

Social media can offer you a fast way to go about connecting with the media. By strategic use of hashtags and social media tagging, you can get a solid media coverage, provided you have a good story to cover. The more eyes on your content, the better the impact. And the faster and further you can push it out to the world, the higher the potential ROI. 

Share your content organically from your personal social channels, as well as your branded channels. And ask your audience to do the same.

Are you sending out press releases and waiting for the media to write about you?

Are you wondering how you can integrate social media with public relations?

You could have the best content in the world, but if there aren’t any eyes on it, is there any real value to it? Even earned media in top-tier publications often needs a push to get the best value.

Instead of waiting for the media to publish your press releases, share those stories via social media. Find out how to use social media in public relations.

If you need to write a press release, find a way to support and extend the message via social sharing.


Keep in mind that journalists rely heavily on Twitter, Facebook and other platforms to source and research stories. When you share your story socially, you are meeting them where they are instead of interrupting them in their inbox.

Most PR teams create customer case studies to highlight successes and build credibility. While some customer stories make a good write-up, most people aren’t willing to invest the time to read long-form articles. Instead of sharing the full case study on social media, pick out the key facts from the client’s success story and highlight those across the board.

Many stories are actually more powerful when told through the right social channel. For example, Microsoft used video to share a story about how their technology is making a difference in people’s lives. Thanks to Microsoft technology, Sarah Churman was able to hear for the first time. 

The company knew showing instead of telling would elicit a stronger emotional response. They gave the story life by sharing a video of Sarah hearing her first sounds. Microsoft brings customer stories to life on YouTube.

The next time you’re gathering customer testimonials and writing case studies, interview your customers on-camera when possible. You can share the video on YouTube and choose the best quotes to share on Twitter or Facebook.

To spread the word further, write an article summarizing the case study and addressing any pain points the customer had. These shorter articles are excellent opportunities to reach a wider industry audience, especially when you share them on LinkedIn. A lot of CEO's use LinkedIn publishing to share content.

Instead of writing an opened for a newspaper or an article for an industry publication, use that content on LinkedIn. Sharing your company updates on LinkedIn is a much faster way to reach your audience than waiting for traditional media to publish your contribution.

You can either create content specifically for LinkedIn or republish from an existing blog or other source. As industry-related stories break, social media offers the prime way for you to offer expert commentary and make an immediate impact on your audience. If you wait for a press release to make the rounds, you’ll likely miss your opportunity.

Information security company iSheriff secured media coverage in outlets such as Forbes around the Goodwill security breach in July 2014. Before you connect yourself with specific events in your industry, assess each opportunity as it arises and have a plan in place for when and how you will respond to certain situations.

In the case of breaking news, proceed with caution to ensure that you are adding value to the conversation and not being completely self-serving or trying to capitalize on a tragedy.

PR practitioners can benefit a great deal by using social media optimally. Running a social media campaign, however, is no mean task. It requires planning, which will help you devise a potent strategy. Without it, even the most experienced PR professional can falter.


Tips To Help You Kick-start Your Social Media Campaign 

Plan, plan and plan. Decipher the primary and secondary goals for the campaign. These could be related to lead generation, direct sales, or increasing brand/product awareness. Further, figure out how you will measure whether or not they have been achieved. Pick the right platform to run you campaign. When doing so, check for specific rules for running a promotion on it.

Choose from among a variety of free and low-cost apps to amp up your campaigns with contests, coupons, offers and branded social landing pages. Before launching your campaign, make a list of the keywords to use in your posts for SEO optimization. It may help to supplement your social media posts with low-cost Facebook ads, LinkedIn ads, email campaigns, and other cross-promotional tactics.

Make it easy for your visitors to reach a specific page on your website to carry out the desired action by creating a campaign-specific landing page. This will help your conversion rates rise.

Reach out to influencers and garner their support by offering them a pitch they cannot refuse. In turn, they will help in spreading the word about your campaign. Make sure to keep reviewing your success metrics throughout the campaign and even after its completion. Doing so will help you understand the scope for further improvement.

Do follow up with your new contacts post the conclusion of the campaign to build a long-lasting relationship with them. You can reach out to them with monthly updates, newsletters or mass emails.
Refrain from reacting to negative comments with aggression. Remember, it is impossible to keep everyone happy.

By focusing on a social approach, you’ll be able to communicate your messages directly with your stakeholders. Plus, you’ll be better able to connect with the media and bloggers where they’re proactively looking for news and resources instead of spamming them with information (like press releases) they simply don’t want or can’t share immediately.

Compared to traditional PR, social media changes distribution channels, content and stakeholder development. It's cheaper. It's current. It makes PR more measurable than ever before.

Take Quora, for example. There are CEOs over there giving direct answers to key questions about their businesses. It's great access. It's approachable. It's unfiltered. There are journalists over there pulling story ideas and sources. And this is only one platform.

At its best, social media PR is about brand PR, is about keeping your brand in front and at the center of the mass media conversation. Social media does not replace traditional media traditional media is still very important, when paired with social media, it’s even more powerful.

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