Social Media for Public Relations

Mashable recently did an interesting post by Erica Swallow on “Future of Public Relations and Social media“. Erica draws insights from Public Relations professionals around the globe on the impact of social media on Public Relations and the newer tactics of engagement that have emerged.

The post does a good job of aggregating the common practices followed by communications professionals and brands. However, that’s definitely not the “future of Public Relations“. The trends and the insights highlighted in the post only continues with the traditional myopia of equating Public Relations with media relations alone. Even the “Human Factor” has been largely equated with media relations alone.

PR-social-mediaThe “future” of Public Relations and social media is definitely going to be much more brighter than that; and even the present is definitely getting better in some pockets here and there. However, the post is a good discussion starter towards that end nonetheless (as you already see in the comments section and some reaction posts as well).

Sometime back, I wrote a Guest piece for India Social “Public Relations 2.0: Beyond social media releases” discussing the influence of social media on Public Relations beyond just media relations and community creations, because:

  • Social media adoption for brand marketing need not always be equated with online conversations, site visits and fan creation alone. Social media is not just a tactic or a platform, but the way we live, feel, think and act.
  • Social media can be a much stronger input for PR planning as well, and not necessarily only from an online campaign stand-point. Harnessing user behavioral research, issue identification, message testing, etc can make the campaign planning evidence-based and yield better execution outcomes.

It will help if we unlearn some of our old practices before learning newer ways of leveraging social media for Public Relations.

Here’s some of my unlearnings/learnings:

  1. Yes, people are increasingly reviewing others’ opinions and sharing their own. But taking them as another publicity channel and trying to hook your messages won’t help.
  2. Look at social media beyond Online Reputation Management. First, Social media is about people, and people don’t like being managed. Second, reputation is equivalent to respect. You do not ‘demand’ the respect, you ‘earn’ it. So win  the trust by your good deeds, endorsements will follow.
  3. The number of your fans and followers is the weakest measurement metric of your social media presence. Measure the engagement.
  4. Do not measure social media ROI with only the business ROI for your brand. Measure the benefit it has offered to your customers. If your customers are benefited by your social media presence, your business gains will come hand-in-hand.
  5. Bad publicity is the least of your worries. If every conversation about a brand is only positive, that’s “too good to be true”. But make sure, you include the relevant negative feedback in your list of improvement areas, and act on it fast. (Also, differentiate the ‘distractors’ from the ‘critics’. I have earlier written a post on this)

How do you see Public Relations evolving with social media? How are you using social media in your campaigns?

image courtesy: Top Rank Blog

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