Social Media and PR

Posted on: May 3, 2011

Nowadays, most people I know get their news off the internet rather than traditional media like newspapers. This is generally because it is instant and easily accessible. More recently, people first here about breaking news on social media sites like Twitter and Facebook. I often see something written by someone on one of these sites, and then go to a traditional organisation to read more about it, like the BBC website. Newspapers are withering, television has watched audiences decline, radio is splintered, and magazines are shrinking. Meanwhile, there are millions of bloggers and Facebook users, Twitterers and texters and Linked-in businesspeople. As reporters disappear from traditional media, PR practitioners are forced to consider and to use social media.

But how is social media affecting the PR profession?

It is moving away from the old broadcast model, as now audiences can participate and respond to what they see and read because of the emergence of social media. The public can now discuss, engage, and even take action. PR campaigns can use social media to seek out and create conversation with their target audiences. Social networks can also be used to find new contacts or increase the interest in their issue or their client. The profession is also using blogs as a communication tool as blogs become increasingly used and a new channel for releasing news. PR practionaers can use blogs to interact with audiences and stakeholders, and engage with a wider blogging community. A blog can be the face of your brand or campaign and can be successful if used correctly and updated frequently. Blogs must be contributed to regularly to be successful. Online photo sharing is also used as images have always been powerful communication tools.

Social media is a great tool for PR, but it does create challenges. This is because they break down traditional categories of audiences such as employees, customers and shareholders. Also, practioners cannot assume a message will reach everyone they want it to reach. Social media are so fragmented that an individual may or may not see information in a blog, on a Facebook page or in a Tweet.

If these challenges are recognised and dealt with, social media used alongside other tactics and offline media, can be an essential tool in a PR campaign. A blog on mashable by Erica Swallow talks about how public relations specialists were one of the first people to embrace the power of social media. She also talks about how it is changing the industry and how it will affect the future of the press release, the evolution of social platforms, current limitations and solutions for those impediments, connecting with other PR pros, cost savings, and building relationships.

This blog can be found here: http://mashable.com/2010/08/16/pr-social-media-future/


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