Public relations and social media -- at times, it would appear there’s tension between the two. But social media presents significant opportunity to enhance PR.
Social media has altered the way we consume and create news, and forced PR pros and journalists to adapt in the digital age.
New technologies are changing how we interact with each other, and with businesses. Airbnb is disrupting the tourism sector. Mobile apps like Uber and Taxify are making it easier to get around cities across the world.
For PR professionals, embracing these new tools presents new opportunities to meet clients' needs. Here are four opportunities social media offers PR experts and small businesses in 2018.
Live streaming is a great way to give your followers a press pass to your events and media conferences.
Video content has been one of the biggest online trends and around 500 million people watch video on Facebook alone each day.
Stream your event using applications like Facebook Live or Twitter’s Periscope. This gives your audience a new opportunity to connect with your client’s brand. You can also reach reporters and news organizations in other parts of the world.
You can use live video to promote upcoming events or tease new products. In 2016, General Motors became one of the first automotive brands to use Facebook Live for a product launch when it introduced a new model.
When you select a platform from which to broadcast, make sure that’s where you target audience is spending their time.
More news organizations -- even those not in broadcast -- are using different forms of media in their articles.
There are often a few stand-out quotes in your news release, or announcement. Record these and attach as sound clips.
Download sound editing software and upload your edited clip to a platform like Clyp or SoundCloud. Include the link in your statement, share on your social media and your website.
Constant updates -- especially in crisis communication -- are key.
Social media has sped up the demand for information from organizations during a crisis.
To ensure you can manage a crisis in the digital age, you need to have a crisis communications policy in place, with clear time frames.
Put honesty at the center of your crisis communications and make sure the spokesperson has the most updated information. People will look to your social media feeds for credible updates, rather than outside sources who might be sharing inaccurate information.
Regular social media listening can also help address concerns before they become full-scale crises.
Organizations are often told they need an online presence.
This does not end at setting up a Facebook page. Facebook, with its audience targeting and ability to reach a wide audience with a limited budget, is a great channel. But Facebook is also changing its algorithm and favours updates from family and friends. This focus has seen organic reach dropping as low as 2 percent for some pages. Last year, Facebook’s split news feed trial saw organic reach for affected pages declining by two thirds for some pages.
The lesson: Facebook should not be at the sum of your digital strategy. Invest in the channels you own -- your website. Here you can upload your press releases and other news.
The key to success is listening to future and current customers and answering their questions through content. This approach also establishes your client’s brand as a thought leader and trusted authority in their industry.
What are their customers’ issues? What information do they need to solve their problem? If they’re in the finance industry, you could create content to guide consumers on what the latest government budget means for them. Perhaps they’re in tourism, and using data, you can put together articles or videos on which attractions to visit during the holiday season.
Like with traditional PR, the key to success in digital PR is to target your communications. Find out which platforms are a good fit for your audience, and start experimenting with your online PR strategy in 2018.
Bronwynne Powell is an independent communications specialist and founder of Bronwynne Powell Media. She has worked for South Africa’s biggest regional newspapers as a print news journalist, and as a spokesperson for a provincial government ministry. Her academic research focuses on how technology is impacting communication.
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