Grunig and Hunt developed the idea that PR creates two-way communication between an organisation and its publics… and guess what social media does? The exact same thing!
Why is it so powerful?
Out with the old, in with the new. If you have been faithfully relying on traditional PR tactics, it’s time to change. Maybe not all of your tactics but definitely some of them. It is important that you take a more social approach allowing you to communicate key messages instantly with your stakeholders. The shift from traditional PR to digital PR is continuously and rapidly evolving. It is important that you adapt your PR tactics to meet the demands of this new way of communication. Digital PR tactics enable you as a PR practitioner to communicate and connect with the media and bloggers in a space where they are proactively searching for news and resources. This is a better way of targeting instead of spamming them with chunks of information (like traditional press releases) that they simply do not want or cannot share immediately.
The Changing Landscape of Digital PR
Adapting to the complex world of digital can be daunting. With the rise of social media platforms as key tools for communication, the mediating role played by traditional media between companies and publics has increasingly diminished. Due to the rise in use of social media, it is now the company’s role to monitor individuals feedback and comments 24/7 regarding its products and services online. The company also has primary responsibility to monitor, manage and deal with a crisis in a timely manner in order to protect and save the public image and reputation.
Due to the continuous growth of social media platforms, it is important that you understand what tools to use, how to use them appropriately, and how to measure their effectiveness. The structure of social media presents greater opportunities to reach out to segmented audiences that have been previously ignored or neglected.
The Chartered Institute of Public Relations suggest the importance of understanding the social network landscape. They suggest that the main focus must always be on the communities within their social media platforms whether they are connected through specific interest groups, trusted friendships, similar interests or driven by passions. In this case, it is a prime opportunity for you to connect with and get involved in conversations that are of relevance to your key publics. This then allows you to build relationships, influence further communications and ultimately lead to the end goal of advocacy and trust.
Hints and Tips on the Best Way to use Social Media for PR
- Network with journalists; This is a great way to get your company name and products out there and directly cut through the noise, however selection when choosing who exactly to network with should be carefully thought through. Be specific– ensure that the journalists you pick to network with are professionals whose interests are somewhat aligned with your company’s interests. Taking time to establish a strong relationship with key journalists and sharing their articles through your own outlets, creates a solid two-way rapport which benefits both parties long term.
- Publish on LinkedIn; LinkedIn is a great way to highlight your client’s experiences, disseminate content, find influences, gain industry insights and connect with new clients. It is a great platform to also discover key media opportunities, identify business opportunities and increase and maximise clients’ media coverage. LinkedIn now offers a publishing platform that you can now share content directly and know that you are targeting the right audience. Why not post content on LinkedIn that you have created for a newspaper article or for an industry publication? LinkedIn is a faster way of reaching your key publics than waiting for traditional media to publish your contribution.
- Use social media in your press releases; A great way to extend your reach of your press release with positive news is by sharing it across social media. Press releases posted on your company website should be accompanied with ‘share’ buttons for each social media platform available to make it easy for readers to pass your news on. A great way to maximise your press release coverage is by writing blogs that then link to them. This can be done by using concise messages which can be tweeted with an accompanied image to meet the needs of each preferred social media platform. Imagery and the use of infographics increase a posts appeal for sharing, so be sure to include some of these in your posts too.
- Seek bloggers coverage; Blogosphere is the ideal link between social media and PR. Bloggers are actively on social media and many of them are closely monitored by journalists. An easy way to seek blogger coverage is through having your service or product reviewed by them. Whether you’re pro-actively seeking coverage or not, your product or service will most likely be reviewed by followers of the blogger anyway again maximising media coverage and exposure. Free platforms such as Tomoson are available to help you get your product featured on niche blogs. This further increases your chances to be noticed by journalists.
- Prepare a Crisis Management Plan in advance; Fail to prepare, prepare to fail. PR disasters can happen at any time and it is disastrous to be caught completely unprepared if and when it does happen. With no plan B, your company could potentially take years to re-establish public trust and brand appreciation again. Having a plan B can help to at least control or manage the situation better. Having a standard press release designed and social media posts planned can minimise stress and impact of the crisis. The best approach to crisis management is a genuine apology signed by a MD or SEO of your company, accompanied by a plan of action to what you are going to do to fix the problem. Whatever the plan, make sure it is accurate, current and seeks approval from management beforehand so that if a crisis does occur your reaction can be quick and save your company’s good reputation to the best of your ability.
Finally, the use of social media can be extremely powerful for getting your key messages out there for product launches to promoting company branding to managing public relations campaigns. Social media efforts can be tracked and analysed through viewing their analytics which can then be tweaked and changed to be even more effective next time. Ensure that social media is incorporated into your PR campaign from the start to maximise the effectiveness of raising awareness of key messages to your key publics.
Through using the hints and tips above, your company’s PR effectiveness will instantly improve. Out with the old and in with the new.
Aimee Rourke is a final year BSc in Communication, Advertising & Marketing student at Ulster University. She can be contacted on LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/aimee-rourke-593013109/