Social Media-PR connection: the way forward

By Sanjay Bose
Published August 02, 2014

Social media is here to stay, and Public Relations initiatives the world over have been revolutionized by this simple fact. A little over a decade ago traditional advertising, press releases, media kits, exhibitions, and press conferences ruled the roost. But now the dynamics have changed vastly. Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter are fast gaining prominence in the scheme of things. In the current scenario, social media and PR are engaged in a close working relationship, though this does not suggest in any manner that they are synonymous.

Given this backdrop, it is important that the PR community utilizes social media to the hilt, and employs the various tools and platforms on offer to enable the growth, activities and visibility of companies.

Old VS New Media

However, one must remember that traditional communication channels that have been in use over the decades have not taken a backseat, nor have they been completely done away with. That is surely not going to happen anytime soon. Nonetheless, PR agencies should be acutely aware that studies reveal that a whopping 75 percent of the purchasing decisions of consumers are directly related to information available online. This is the boon of new media.

Alive to these possibilities, companies of all sizes are increasingly turning to blogging and microblogging as a means to inform the public about their products, services and offerings. In fact, many companies invest in a dedicated team of bloggers to let the world know about their initiatives and daily activities. By using PR and marketing terminology, such blogs help drive traffic to the official websites of these businesses.

A PR firm that is wedded to the use of social media content for outreach is best placed to prevent undesirable situations from rearing their ugly heads; because word spreads very quickly online and can make or break a company regardless of its size or standing.

Preventing online bloopers

There have been instances when an inadvertent post in an online forum has caused much embarrassment to a company. This is where PR professionals step in to do some firefighting in an attempt to salvage the reputation of the business, by nullifying the negative publicity that has been generated. In a single stroke, thousands of customers can be reached in this manner, thanks to the power of social media.

L’Oreal’s social media presence took a huge hit a few years ago when it was revealed that they had created a fake blog praising their products. The lesson: Don’t create fake testimonials or blogs. Ever. The consumer is far too clever to be hoodwinked!

Influencing consumer decisions

The onus rests on PR managers to take stock of online conversations with regard to their areas of interest. This will provide extensive insights into among other things, audience demographics and even buying habits, as mentioned earlier. The mandate lies with PR professionals as they can now positively influence consumer decisions like never before.

Media houses are always on the lookout for unique and engaging content that will make their websites the talk of the town. With this requirement in place, PR agencies have to be on their toes to dish out interesting content. Every bit of news, analysis or views should be absorbing, such that the audience spends a considerable amount of time reviewing and sharing the information online. Therein lies the real challenge.

It is no secret that PR professionals blossom on social media platforms because they have the ability to weave compelling stories. This significant capability promotes dialogue and results in lasting relationships that transcend the boundaries of campaigns.

(Eastwest PR India)

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