How does social media fit into PR?

There is a good piece on on How To: Use Social Media In Your PR Pitch Plan. In your organization, whether you are the communications person or not – we are in a time of change. The challenge is that we’re not all at the same spot yet. There are many people who have embraced social media, many who are looking at it but not quite sure yet, and others who are either fearful or in complete denial. Some of those in denial have decided they are going to completely ignore the conversations happening online and others have decided to use the technology and tools, but are still going about it in a traditional way. And, that just doesn’t work.

At AHA, we recently had to turn down a project because during the initial discussions it was clear that the potential client wasn’t anywhere close to understanding that things have changed. They wanted to use a push out approach to social media and that would have hurt their reputation and been a waste of budget, in our opinion. We are always respectful of the ideas and opinions of our clients and their input usually makes for a better campaign, but it has to be a discussion where our ideas are also valued (it is what we are being paid for, after all). We understand that there is an education or knowledge share process and we love that part of the work. One of the challenges right now for many organizations is coming to terms with the fact that the world has changed. PR is different than what it once was. There is a new approach to connecting and it lives on a two-way street. Consumers, people, and individuals have their own voice now and it is important to not only acknowledge that, but to respect it and embrace it.

Susan Payton, the writer of the piece on Mashable, hits several key points on how to use social media as a part of your PR outreach. It’s about immersing yourself in this world, not jumping in and taking what you need. Listening has always been an important component of great PR and now it is easier and more convenient to do. It does take time, but the effort is worth it.

When working with clients who are just starting to include social media as a part of their toolkit, we always counsel them to spend time listening before they participate. Learn the culture of your specific online community – understand their needs, wants, expectations and challenges. This is a very important (and valuable) component. Get to know your target market better, they may surprise you.

Payton’s piece is worth a read. It clearly outlines how you can effectively use social media in your PR outreach and gives excellent examples.

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