Public relations has long been about more than just the press release. But the proliferation of social media more than 10 years ago substantially altered our profession, creating an always-on source of news that presented new challenges and opportunities for the discerning PR professional.
Is social media PR? Not quite, but social media participation is critical for PR because it gives marketing and communications professionals the opportunity to engage a range of audiences quickly and succinctly while using platforms that feel familiar to their target audiences.
What is social PR and what does a good example look like? Well, there are many great examples of brands that place social media right at the centre of their PR strategy. Burger King and Innocent Smoothies are both businesses that regularly make headlines for their use of Twitter, Facebook and Instagram. Looking a little closer to home, we’ve designed successful, social media first PR strategies for the likes of Heritage Bathrooms and Earth Animal which have driven results and enabled each brand to consistently reach a targeted audience of potential buyers.
Word travels fast on social media, making it an incredibly effective platform for sharing breaking news. For many brands it is their go-to first port of call for new product announcements, or to share big business news such as senior executive hires, business acquisitions or capital expenditure. It’s not uncommon for the wider press or influential individuals to spot an interesting announcement on social media and share it with their own followers, making social media a super-effective means of cascading information in a timely fashion.
And that, naturally, brings us on to an important point when considering how PR and social media work together – the sourcing of relevant, powerful influencers. In old-money PR the core influencer was the journalist, typically working for a regional or national newspaper, or a B2B publication.
But today anyone can be an influencer. The rise of the home account, for example, means that consumers are often just as likely to find out about the latest interiors products via an influential individual who is undertaking a renovation as they are to read it in the more traditional newspapers and magazines. The under 30s in particular now look to influencers on platforms such as Instagram and TikTok for guidance when making purchasing decisions.
Influencers offer a powerful means of reaching new audiences. Providing they are used ethically and transparently – important in today’s heavily scrutinised online world – they can help your product or brand to reach whole new audiences in an authentic manner, which can contribute towards increasing brand recognition and sentiment.
With so much noise happening on social media, it can be a great place to find out about what people are saying about your brand and the key issues you’re interested in. Social media listening has become an important tool in a PR professional’s armoury because it enables us to see – in real time – the conversations, talking points and issues that are affecting our sector. It can be an early-warning flag for potential brand threats and highlight opportunities to engage with trending topics around the issues that matter most to our businesses.
All of which means that social media is, and will continue to be, a critical tool for PR professionals when managing the reputation of a business. It’s a speedy, accessible, personable form of communication which enables us to reach our audiences in a way which feels comfortable and familiar to them.
How PR and social media work together will largely depend on your PR strategy, but ensuring you have these assets aligned and firing in the same direction is vital when it comes to sharing key messages and stories with your audiences.
If you’d like help aligning social media with your PR strategy, get in touch with us over on our contact page.