Public Relations Has Gone Viral

“Isn’t social media just a fad?” ask clients of PR practitioner Norman Birnbach. Some could argue ‘yes’ based on the various social media sites that have been popping up rather frequently over the past 10 years. But those who argue ‘no’ may have the upper hand in the argument. Let’s face it: social media isn’t going away. If anything it’s growing and developing, which some find intimidating, but others (especially those of our generation) wear a smug smile at the opportunity that we see lies within social media.
The biggest problem with social media is that people don’t know how to use it. Birnbach said most of his clients are looking for help with social media. As PR students we should take advantage of the fact that we are the generation of the internet. We are prime candidates to take social media and use it as a main tool. Social media is a huge resource. Take global PR Firm Edelman for example, their sales went up 18% last year with the aide of social media.

But enough general information, let’s look at the specifics:

1)  Location, Location, Location: We want our product, brand, or client to have as much exposure as possible in the best locations. Placement of your brand on the internet is a great way to provide a large amount of people with important information.

2)  Engage Your Audience: Whether it’s ‘liking’ something on Facebook, or retweeting a fact shared on Twitter…you are not only spreading the word, you’re making it interactive. Showing people what you’ve got to offer is one thing, but to get them to ask questions and share opinions FOR FREE is something any PR person would jump at. As Matt Hallaran said in his article “How Social Media is Changing Public Relations,”    “the sole ingredient in PR is customer engagement”.

3)  Quick Info:  PR professionals pride themselves on being timely. Quick and efficient responses that are full of relevant, new information are vital when dealing with social media. Social media constantly keeps you aware of what people are thinking, what competitors are pitching, and ultimately what your next move should be!

4)  Research Tool: Consider it a new source for conducting research. Social media is a gold mine for finding out “what’s hot”. Even those who are trend illiterate can do it. Twitter allows you search trending topics and go from there. Even monitoring the traffic on a company’s site could help dictate what and where costs should be spent. For example, if PR is increasing profits, perhaps a company can decrease their advertising budget, which in the end will generate even more profit for the company or leave money for expansion.

It seems that our list of PR strategies have only been elongated with the endless options that social media provides. Don’t view this as a drastic change to the field of PR as we know it, but more of a creative renovation.

Want to read more about this topic? While writing this I checked into some other articles, feel free to check those out as well: “Seven Ways Social Media is Changing PR “ by Matthew Royse on Spin Suck and Social Media change the way firms do business by Ashley Milne-Tyte on Marketplace.

Melissa Louis-Jacques, Junior, Music Merchandising Major and Public Relations Minor

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