Straight talk about PR: 6 questions with Muck Rack CEO Greg Galant

Straight talk about PR: 6 questions with Muck Rack CEO Greg Galant

Social media has transformed communications and the public relations industry. But it's far from a magical solution.

Despite the plethora of books, speeches and blog posts, utilizing social media to advance a cause or company position via Twitter, Facebook, Instagram or other platforms isn't easy.  Because of the popularity of social media, and the low barriers to entry, everyone uses it and it's extremely common. 

Muck Rack CEO Greg Galant is one of the few realistic evangelists of digital media for public relations. He was interviewed extensively for my new book, "Straight Talk About Public Relations: What You Think You Know Is Wrong."

Here's what Greg has to say on the subject.

1. Why do you think public relations is more valuable than advertising?

It all boils down to the fact that PR is more credible -- it’s always more powerful to have someone else say something good about you or your company.

Readers are smarter than ever these days. They can generally figure out the inherent bias in advertising and even sponsored content.

Plus, with PR, there’s the great return on investment -- while an advertising department may spend millions of dollars on an ad spend, it’s often cheaper to do PR, giving you massive visibility and value.

2. Why do businesses spend so much more on advertising than PR?

Advertising professionals are really good at telling the story about a dollar in advertising translates back to, say, two dollars in revenue.

Of course, that’s not always the case, but they’ve nailed down the story. They’ve developed financial models to make that attribution.

PR pros haven’t done such a great job of telling the story of PR’s ROI. We need to be telling this story in a stronger way.

3. There are tons of books and blogs that promise instant success with social media. Why do think this is so prevalent?

People generally like to take the easy way out without having to invest hard work and creativity.

However, social media is no different than any other part of business where you have to get the word out about something. It’s usually not easy and takes a lot of discipline and requires creativity because it’s different for every industry and every business.

There’s a great demand for this type of knowledge, hence, a crazy number of books and blogs pushing that instant, overnight success.

4. What is your realistic advice for PR pros who want to effectively use social media?

First, use social media yourself! I’d recommend getting on Twitter first because that’s where journalists are hanging out. It’s the best place to see what they’re up to and what they’re covering.

Second, I’d say to hire people on your team who are deeply into social media and understand and recognize the strong link between social media and public relations.

5. Everyone wants to post their own content, but much of it can be irrelevant or boring. What makes for great content?

This differs by industry, but in general, great content needs to be as interesting and engaging as anything that would appeal to the audience you want to reach.

Competition is harder than ever because audiences are consuming news and entertainment through every medium possible on an almost minute-by-minute basis.

You need to invest in great content; it’s not something you can simply phone in.

6. How do you deal with trolls in social media?

If someone is truly a troll, it’s best to usually ignore them.

But, it’s important to dig deep to make sure someone is really a troll and not just an unhappy customer with a legitimate complaint. In that case, you should engage with them.

Let's continue the conversation on Twitter! Be sure to tag @muckrack and @robwynne!

Robert Wynne is the president and founder of Wynne Communications. He is also a contributor to Forbes where he writes a column on public relations. He has provided public relations counsel for Vanderbilt University’s Engineering School, Cornell University’s Johnson School of Management, Johns Hopkins Carey Business School, MIT Sloan School of Management UCLA Law School, the law firm of Stroock & Stroock & Lavan and many others. He worked as a reporter for Newsweek magazine and the Los Angeles Times and also wrote for “Walker, Texas Ranger” on CBS.

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