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How Important is Social Media in PR?

Image from www.podcastingnews.com

To me, they’re one in the same. Isn’t the essence of PR embodied by social media? PR has evolved and it will continue to do so. But really it’s the same old PR approach with different tools and platforms.

Here are some examples:

Media Relations

A Journalistics post I saw today worded this very nicely: “Is blogger outreach really a new service offering? I don’t think so. It’s just a different way to say media relations.”

Exactly. Blogs are just as important for outreach as traditional media outlets. Sometimes bloggers are more influential. You target them the same way you would a journalist (by doing research and finding out which ones are relevant), and you pitch them. The style of pitching might be different—you might pitch via social media or use a more conversational tone—but the concept of targeting relevant media and pitching them is the same.

Research

HUGE part of PR. This will never change. But the way in which you research has changed. I find pretty much all of my news via Twitter. You can easily follow the people who tweet news that’s relevant to you (or your clients) to find out everything you want to know.

Researching via social media isn’t only about news. It’s also about people. You can research your target audience—whether it’s certain journalists/bloggers or a community of consumers you’re trying to reach. Social media makes this very easy, and it allows you to see what people actually care about. It’s not just some bio that was written years ago, but it’s what these people are talking about right now. That information is priceless.

Relationship-building

Yet another part of the PR framework that’s not going anywhere (as I mentioned in a previous post). But now relationships are built online by communicating via social media. We connect and engage on social platforms. If that’s where people spend their time, that’s where you go to build a relationship with them. Pretty simple, right?

Word-of-Mouth

This has always been one of the ultimate PR goals and nothing has changed. With social media, you can generate buzz on a much grander scale. Sharing tools, “Like” buttons, retweeting, etc. are all ways that word-of-mouth can be spread via social media. The best part is that so many news stories are read online, which gives people the ability to instantly share something to their followers on various social platforms. The news can continue to multiply from there and travel into countless networks of people. Much better than the old rumor mill.

Measurement 

PR would cease to exist if we didn’t measure our results in some manner. What CEO would invest in PR without…gasp…ROI? So obviously measurement of PR efforts is not a new concept. Except now you need to measure in different ways: some look at number of followers, others count retweets, website hits or links.

I think measurement is a case-by-case basis: if the “right” person retweets your article, how do you determine its worth? Hard to say exactly, but the point is that what we have to consider now in terms of measurement is VERY different than it was years ago.

Social media also allows you to track PR results in real-time. This is a game changer, but an opportunity just like all the rest. Take advantage of the PR knowledge you can gain from social media.

I’m not saying social media should be the only means for practicing PR, but I do think it’s an essential part of PR today and it’s only going to head further in that direction.

What are other ways you’ve seen social media affect PR?