Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Social Media: Breaking the Barriers of Traditional PR

It is undeniable that social media has revolutionized the way society communicates and shares information. Americans spend an average of 6.9 hours each month on social networks—more than double the time they spent social networking in 2006. It is even more remarkable how social media has become a habitual part of everyday life; 22% of Facebook users log in severaltimes a day, making social media one of the most influential platforms for reaching the public.

Thus, not surprisingly, social media—by providing a brand with the opportunity to make a direct connection with its audience without the filter of the media—plays an integral role in public relations strategies. According to thedrum.com, “Social media cuts across channels and is all about engaging with individuals, holding conversations not relying on press releases and launches.”  Social media provides a greater control over the messages directed at a brand’s audience.

Traditionally, marketing has been a monologue. As a result of mass social media usage, it is now a two-way conversation between brands and consumers. Thus, to survive, brands must be interactive and authentic; not only via their Facebook page, but also in all their communication with both consumers and the press. Recognizing this revolution in the way we communicate, companies must transform their PR strategies in order to reach their target audience.

As PR professionals, we facilitate a 24/7 conversation in order to get the desired message across and to engage the public. In return, we are able to receive continuous feedback, explore what truly engages our audience, and quickly respond to any criticism. However, along with these great opportunities that social media provides comes the responsibility of constant managing and monitoring to ensure the safety of a brands reputation.

When examining how social media has altered public relations, it is important to acknowledge how social media has changed journalism and the way consumers look for information. (Lets face it, in the new digital age, you are more likely to hear of breaking news via your Twitter feed than by turning on your television or by flipping through a hard copy of a newspaper). More than half of Americans receive some form of local news through their mobile device. Journalists are now turning to social media to capture the attention of their readers and strive to do so in 140 characters or less.

Social media has contributed to the changing dynamic of the Publicist/Journalist relationship. No matter how eye-catching, creative, and well timed a pitch may be, there is always a chance it will go overlooked in a horde of emails. A more operative way for an up and coming brand to reach an editor, reporter, or blogger is to connect with them through various social media channels. At miamore communications, we recently pitched to an editor who had blogged about potential article topics. This resulted in the placement of two of our clients. While an editor may be overwhelmed with the traffic in his/her inbox, they may be more likely to respond to a tweet. In fact, many journalists actively use social media to post queries and gather information.

So, what does the future hold? We feel that blogger outreach will become just as important as traditional journalist outreach, especially for specific industries. While mass social platforms will continue to be relevant, niche, industry specific networks will prove to be a more effective arena for brands to connect with consumers. Just as email transformed modern communication just a couple of decades ago, we predict that social media will become a principal form of interaction over the next few years.

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