As it grows in reach and influence, social media continues to have a profound effect on public relations (PR). Not only does this create new opportunities in which brands can communicate with customers, but it has also introduced many new challenges as well.
This increased ability to have two-way conversations with brands who are available on social media channels 24/7, has led to increased demand for these brands to be hyper-responsive and always ready with a reply.
The perception of PR has been changed by social media
While social media and PR definitely employ two very different communication strategies, social media channels have given PR an opportunity to be perceived as more approachable. This shift means that PR professionals now manage relationships with a host of stakeholders across the value chain, from the business leaders to the brand’s consumers.
Social media has expanded the reach of public relations
Traditional PR dissemination through platforms such as newspapers, television and radio, has limited shelf-life. Some audiences do not see the content when it is released, thereby missing out on the messaging completely.
Social media allows for the amplification of the PR messages, giving news releases and other PR content a means to spread further, last longer, and reach more people in a short space of time.
The content that PR professionals disseminate has also evolved, moving away from typical press releases about a brand’s corporate changes to conversational content, short tips, videos, content and image carousels.
While the audiences that are reached are also larger and more diverse, moving away from the traditional targeting models employed in PR, the way they consume content is constantly changing. Snippet-sized bites of information about brands read on mobile phones while on the go, have become the norm.
A 24/7 news cycle in managing crisis comms
With a longer content cycle, brands can deliver news at any time – and be confident that their message will reach audiences who spend a great deal of time on social media channels.
The sheer speed at which content is created and shared means that, while good news flows quickly, bad news can flow just as quickly. The rapid spread of one customer complaint that goes viral can be difficult for a brand to contain and control. Through social media channels, brands have the opportunity to react just as quickly – addressing any issue transparently through social outreach.
Expanding PR contacts to build brand reputations
As social media channels evolve, brands are increasingly challenged to create compelling content that reaches target markets across a variety of mediums. The voice of the consumer is amplified by social media, and social media influencers have become an added resource that PR professionals can leverage to build brand reach and reputation. Through collaborations with key influencers, PR professionals innovate to develop creative and impactful campaigns.
Personal outreach on social media has brought down barriers to reaching journalists, who are also increasingly using social media to search for trending topics and are able to share the brand’s message across their networks.
In the future, social media will undoubtedly continue to grow and evolve – and PR along with it. The burgeoning synergy that exists between the two communication strategies will invariably continue to ensure that brands are well represented across a multitude of channels that appeal to their target audiences and stakeholders.