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Social Media in Public Relations

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The impact of social media on public relations

21 March 2012 – 9:46am | posted by Staff Writer

The impact of social media on public relations

The Drum caught up with a number of agencies to discover their views on how social media is changing the face of public relations, looking at whether the role of PR has become synonymous with social media, and whether the PR’s toolbox lends itself to leading the way in social media campaigns.

What effect is social media having on PR?

Nigel Ferrier, director, Optimise PR and executive chairman, FPCG
Social media lets us reach people more directly, through Twitter and Facebook and an ever-growing array of new platforms. It used to be B2B and B2C but now it’s B2P, with P being people. Social media cuts across channels and is all about engaging with individuals, holding conversations not relying on press releases and launches.

There are huge opportunities there, but the 24/7 scrutiny brings new threats, too. The key is to have a strategy: think carefully about the resources you have and how you can keep control of any conversations you begin. Anyone can set up a Twitter or LinkedIn account, but you need a strategy to make it a success. If you treat social media as a key part of your PR and wider business strategy you can achieve real business results.

Tom Malcolm, head of consumer, Diffusion
Social media is not only forcing PR agencies to become much more integrated. A thread on a consumer forum can quickly become headline news and as such PR professionals need to have an understanding of how a brand’s reputation online and offline are intrinsically linked.

The rise of social media has also had an effect on media organisations which are now in search of unique and engaging content which will drive traffic to their websites. This in turn has transformed the role of PR. To feed the media’s growing appetite for engaging content, successful PR campaigns are now increasingly reliant on their ability to create engaging content that people want to share and talk about online. This has also forced PR agencies to work alongside and focus a lot more like creative and ad agencies.

Andy Heaps, operations director, Epiphany
Social offers a host of opportunities to integrate different parts of the digital marketing mix. At Epiphany we have a creative development team who work hand in hand with our online PR and SEO teams to create content to fulfil strategic search objectives, drive online visibility and build brand engagement through social media channels.

The advent of the social web means that it’s now more important than ever to create, seed and promote great quality content. By using a hybrid approach, it’s possible to generate a much larger and more meaningful digital footprint for the brands you’re promoting.

Pete Goold, managing director, Punch Communications
The advent of social media is forcing PRs to be ever more accountable and transparent, not only in terms of measurement but also in terms of cross-team working. Increasingly, in our experience, the open nature of the social media team tends to promote better integration with other marketing disciplines – leading to a more positive working arrangement and a better outcome.

Also of course, Social Media requires a PR person to think less about an intermediary – such as a journalist or blogger – and more about the end user, which results in catering for a broad spectrum of needs. Rather than targeting a single individual with an idea, PRs that manage social media now need to think about the response of a broad demographic – which arguably forces the thinking to be more robust than ever before.

Have social media and PR become synonymous with each other?

Tom Malcolm, head of consumer, Diffusion
Social media and PR have become much more integrated but that does not necessarily make them synonymous. The agency landscape is very fragmented with ad agencies, search agencies, digital and design agencies all vying for social media budget. Marketing Directors are looking for agencies that can take a mature approach to a brief and work closely alongside eachother to achieve business objectives.

Pete Goold, managing director, Punch Communications
There is an element of social media which lends itself perfectly to PR thinking – which is the creation and management of an engagement strategy and the narrative that runs through any given social profile. However, social media also comprises major elements that are better managed by digital creative and paid media teams respectively.

The ideal is to have the appropriate areas working harmoniously and irrespective of which one leads the activity; ensuring that there is openness across the team is likely to create the best outcome.

Nigel Ferrier, director, Optimise PR and executive chairman, FPCG
They should be. Companies live and die by their reputation, and since the advent of social networking, they live and die a lot quicker. Consumers look online for information and reviews; last year the Social Media Statistics Compendium found 75% say purchasing decisions are influenced by what they read online, and social media is a key element of that. Companies can’t afford to ignore it. So social media is integral to most PR campaigns in some shape or form.

Does the PR’s traditional toolbox lend the profession to leading the way in social media?

Nigel Ferrier, director, Optimise PR and executive chairman, FPCG
Yes in that PR’s all about engagement, whatever the platform, and social media mirrors that. But we need new tools, too, to keep abreast of rapid technological change and engage effectively with new audiences. We find many SMEs are struggling to know where to start with social media. That’s why we’ve developed a new monitoring and analysis tool, Social Sleuth, to help companies protect their good name and respond to threats.

It’s more immediate than a focus group. Social Sleuth shows companies what people are saying about their brand and where they are saying it: whether on news websites, forums, blogs or social networking sites. As well as recording the volume of mentions, it crucially records in real time whether mentions are positive or negative, so companies can respond if their reputation is challenged.

Tom Malcom, head of consumer, Diffusion
There are significant strengths in PR’s traditional toolbox that lend it to run successful social media campaigns. However this is not an exclusive position. Just as PR agencies will claim an innate ability to communicate with audiences so an ad or creative agency will claim a heritage in creating unique and engaging rich content.

The days of the traditional agency bun fight over budgets are numbered with brands expecting a much more mature and collaborative approach to briefs with agencies honestly outlining what strengths they can bring to the table.

Adam Lewis, managing partner, immediate future
PR people are well equipped for social because they know how to tell a story. They know how to create dialogue and they think beyond campaigns to relationships. All of which is essential for effective engagement on social media.

But the traditional toolbox might be limited when trying to keep pace with the innovation that’s happening in social media. I can say this having worked in the PR industry for many years. The PR industry arguably lacks the tools for using the raft of technology and mindset for analysing the vast amount of data and metrics that social media can yield.

Column inches, circulation and the dodgy old advertising equivalent value have been the mainstay of PR measurement for far too long. In contrast social media provides hundreds of potential KPIs, covering not just reach, but engagement, sentiment and loyalty. Understanding the value of social media means having a more analytical mind that can decipher the relationship between things like retweets, comments and authority. Most PRs are not naturally technically minded.- they are creative, people. But they need to know the difference between an API, BIT.LY, App, CSS and CMS for example.

Pete Goold, managing director, Punch Communications
In terms of managing the narrative, yes absolutely. And, provided that a PR has a broad enough frame to be able to understand how best to take advantage of other disciplines through integration, then PRs are also well suited to devising the overall strategy – although it’s important that ideation can come from any part of an integrated team, from junior to senior, irrespective of discipline.

A PR’s approach to measurement – with a high level of attention to detail that is designed to result in actionable outcomes – is very well suited to social media. Ultimately, many of the best social media campaigns are those which do the basics well and continue to improve week on week through detailed analysis and taking advantage of the resulting insight to rapidly evolve the strategy.

Common PR Tools and Techniques

Image result for public relations and social media                                Image result for public relations and social media

PR Tools and Techniques

Creation and maintenance of a good public reputation is a complex and ongoing process. Without an effective PR, it is very difficult to reach the attention of the target audience and much less to influence their opinion and decisions. But when the relationship with the target group is finally established, it needs to be maintained in order to keep it on a high level. The process works similar to the interpersonal relationships. When two people lose contact, they pretty much disappear from each other lives no matter how close they used to be. And the same happens with the target audience if the established relationship is not maintained.

Common PR Tools and Techniques

In order to build a relationship with the target audience and maintain it on a high level, PR specialists use a variety of tools and techniques. Some of the most common ones include:

  • Attendance at public events. In order to attract public attention and keep it engaged with a particular organization or an individual, PR specialists take an advantage of every public event and the opportunity to speak publicly. This enables them to directly reach the public attending the event and indirectly, a much larger audience.
  • Press releases. Information that is communicated as a part of the regular TV or/and radio programme, newspapers, magazines and other types of mainstream media achieves a much bigger impact than advertisements. This is due to the fact that most people consider such information more trustworthy and meaningful than paid adds. Press release is therefore one of the oldest and most effective PR tools.
  • Newsletters. Sending newsletters – relevant information about the organization or/and its products/services – directly to the target audience is also a common method to create and maintain a strong relationship with the public. Newsletters are also a common marketing strategy but PR specialists use it to share news and general information that may be of interest to the target audience rather than merely promoting products/services.
  • Blogging. To reach the online audience, PR specialists use the digital forms of press releases and newsletters but they also use a variety of other tools such as blogging and recently, microblogging. It allows them to create and maintain a relationship with the target audience as well as establish a two-way communication.
  • Social media marketing. Like its name suggests, it is used primarily by the marketing industry. Social media networks, however, are also utilized by a growing number of PR specialists to establish a direct communication with the public, consumers, investors and other target groups.

Why most Facebook users get more than they give

Facebook friends (Facebook)

Facebook users who post, upload and tag on a regular basis may be a source of amusement — or aggravation — to their friends. A 2012 report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project suggests that such active users can significantly impact the Facebook experience of everyone in a network.

The report, “Why Most Facebook Users Get More Than They Give,” builds on the findings of the project’s June 2011 publication, “Social Networking Sites and our Lives,” by focusing on a subset of Facebook “power users” — individuals who frequently post, comment and tag photos. Researchers worked with Facebook to capture data on site users’ behaviors from November 1 to 28, 2010; data was augmented by usage logs completed by participants. The survey sample was comprised of 269 users who on average had 245 friends.

Key study findings include:

  • Approximately 20% to 30% of Facebook users are considered “power users”: “As a result of these power users, the average Facebook user receives friend requests, receives personal messages, is tagged in photos, and receives feedback in terms of ‘likes’ at a higher frequency than they contribute.”
  • The average users in the sample “like” their friends’ Facebook posts 14 times a month, but have their own content “liked” by others 20 times a month; 12% of the users tag photos of their friends, but 35% are tagged by others.
  • “It is commonly the case in people’s offline social networks that a friend of a friend is your friend, too. But on Facebook this is the exception, not the rule…. The average Facebook user in our sample had a friends list that is sparsely connected.”
  • “There is a statistically positive correlation between frequency of tagging Facebook friends in photos, as well as being added to a Facebook group, and knowing people with more diverse backgrounds off of Facebook.” Users who receive and accept more friend requests than the average report that “they received more social support/assistance from friends (on and offline.)”
  • Despite having the ability to unsubscribe from having a friend’s content in one’s news feed, “less than 5% of users in our sample hid another user’s content from their feed in the month of our observation.”
  • “At two degrees of separation (friends-of-friends), Facebook users in our sample can on average reach 156,569 other Facebook users.” Within the sample, the most influential power user could reach nearly 8 million other Facebook users through friends-of-friends, while the median user could reach 31,170 people.

The researchers find no evidence that Facebook’s popularity may be fading. “On the contrary, the more time that has passed since a user started using Facebook, the more frequently he/she makes status updates, uses the ‘like’ button, comments on friends’ content, and tags friends in photos. Similarly, the more Facebook friends someone has, the more frequently they contribute all forms of Facebook content and the more friend requests they tend to send and accept.”

Tags: Facebook, technology, social media

Writer: | February 22, 2013

My opinion

Image result for social media images

 

Social Media is a faster way to make new friends or business connections. Because we are connecting digitally, it facilitates joining many more groups and communities any time online. Moreover, networking online is less expensive than any other type of advertising or marketing.

In many ways, social communities are the virtual equivalent of meetings to exchange news and get updated on friends and families.

While Social Networking assists in making important business, social or professional connections, its disadvantage is that it reduces or eliminates face-to-face socialization. It is also true that it is easy to become distracted and end up spending valuable time on games, chats or other non-related activities.

In addition, use of social networks can expose individuals to harassment or inappropriate contact from others because the information you post on the Internet is available to almost anyone who can access it.

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