It’s a brave new world

We have regular production meetings at AHA and during today’s briefing, it hit me that public relations is a different profession today than it was even a year ago. Technology, specifically online technology, has changed how we do our job.

At AHA, we have always approached the publicity and media relations component of what we do much as a media outlet would. We have regular story meetings, we hold our ideas up to scrutiny and we review each pitch through the eyes of the specific journalist and media outlet that we are approaching. We have a focus on acting (as much as possible) like a newsroom would when it comes to clearly identifying the news value and the heart of the story before we take it to media.

Today at our meeting, we outlined our approach to several strategic plans that we are working on with clients and we discussed internal and external communications outreach. What struck me was that everything we touched upon had an element of social media attached. It isn’t the driving force, but a key part of our toolkit.

We have editorial schedules for a range of content from web copy to e-newsletters, blogs and, of course Facebook and Twitter updates. We now look at news releases and e-newsletters from a different perspective – what is “shareable” through Facebook, Twitter and other social media networks? How can a four paragraph piece be summed up in 140 characters or less and, as importantly, should it be? Do our client’s followers on Twitter care about that specific topic, is it relevant to them, do they want to hear about it and is it of enough value for them to retweet?

A great PR agency has always acted a little bit like a newsroom and that is even more so today. There is still the behind the scenes work of strategic planning, developing relevant (and authentic) messaging and positioning, as well as the research that goes into understanding who the audience/community is and what and how they want to engage with the organization. But at the end of it all, it comes down to how we share the information and how it is received.

Social media, in my opinion, has given organizations a better opportunity to regularly connect with stakeholders. That outreach needs to be supported by research and strategy. And above all, it needs to be authentic, relevant and engaging. Otherwise, you’ll find yourself talking with no one listening.

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