The Public Relations industry has faced dramatic changes in the past few years in terms of new technology and media channels as well as new opportunities for communicating with clients and businesses. Many different aspects of technology and communication advancements have led to a lot of changes in this field. But perhaps none of the factors has an immense effect more than the growth and popularity of social media. Social media has changed the whole communication pattern, including how organizations communicate, when & where they communicate and with whom they communicate. Public relations practitioners now have to tweak and change their strategies to make sure they engage their audiences in the best way possible. For which they are now using social media to listen, interact and connect with their clients.
As a group of people who have been active in the PR industry for a long time and with experience in managing both private and government handles on Social Media, we have found 6 aspects that make Social Media PR a more challenging but equally interesting and innovative platform.
Flexibility, customizability and reachability
Social media compels brands to focus more on their customers and to build a strong positive relationship with them. This allows the organization to make the customer feel like a ‘king’ or make the brand look more relatable. With new ad-formats and content formats tracking down, interested users or potential customers is possible. Even more, you can personalize these ads and for each viewer. Add this with the ability to change branding such as cover images etc as per need and you have a platform where you can be more dynamic and flexible.
Affordability for small businesses
Previously only politicians and large organizations were able to hire professionals for handling their public relations because they had the funds for spending on brand management and crisis communications. Today, even small businesses can afford to hire a freelancer or a college student studying communications, journalism or public relations to manage their online presence. So, now the PR facilities are affordable for all types of business organizations that require experienced PR assistance.
On social media, everything is available 24/7. On the brighter side, brands can deliver news, updates and any other information at any time because no matter what time it is at least someone is listening and ready to respond. However, the 24/7 news cycle becomes a curse when bad news travels through social media platforms, and creates a PR crisis making it more difficult to recover from, clean up, and contain.
Unique & Engaging Content
The hunger for uniques content is increasing and unique content is grabbing more of the reader’s attention every day. Since almost everyone has access to social media and can easily make an account on any social media platform for creating a blog – everyone looks for stories that create a bond with their audience. So it has become a bit difficult to find out a new angle for a new story every time. But, when the professionals can get it right, the entire world starts sharing their article.
Ability to interact & Respond
In the past, communication was a one-way street, where companies used to put out the content and customers had no public avenue to easily interact with or respond to the particular content. Now, customers engage with brands and their content by leaving comments, sharing, and liking it. This helps the brands to know how effectively the content and ads are reaching the masses, and accordingly, they plan their further strategies. Companies also use interactions on social media to improve their business as a whole, especially where complaints and kudos are concerned.
With these benefits, comes responsibility too. Customers now have platforms like Twitter and Facebook for sharing their bad customer experiences. This forces companies to resolve issues speedily to avoid a PR crisis. Of course, helping a customer or client on Social Media rewards more positive feedback and better online reviews.
Because social media has so many elements and it requires the efforts of the full team, it is now forcing many different PR firms to broaden the scope of their organizations. PR agencies are integrating advertising professionals, digital marketing professionals and data specialists into their teams to provide a complete package to their clients.
Social media will keep on evolving and every field must accept the fact that its impact will keep on increasing. This is why brands and organizations that use social media as a platform for PR need to think bigger, do more, and constantly look for stories that can become game-changers for their business and clients.
Do you manage Social media for a firm too? What benefits and challenges have you found with Social Media as a PR platform? Be sure to share with us in the comments below.