The public relations industry is in a state of evolution, with social channels transforming public relations in new directions. Savvy public relations professionals recognize that incorporating social media into their current strategy is essential to reaching consumers, business buyers and media alike — now and in the future.
The proof is in the numbers:
- More than 400 million consumers are active on Facebook, and just less than 106 million consumers are Twitter users.
- Ninety-one percent of business buyers read blogs, watch user-generated video and participate on social media sites, according to Forrester Research.
- Eighty-nine percent of reporters use blogs for story research and 65 percent use social networking sites, according to a recent study by Cision and George Washington University.
Why Social Media Matters to PR
Pull PR has become far more valuable than push. When public relations professionals become media by publishing content, they embrace a pull strategy naturally — and can attract attention from all other types of media.
Social media allows public relations professionals to be more strategic and transform their craft from push to pull. Consider what an effective social media strategy can do:
Create authenticity/personality: With so many faceless companies in existence, both consumers and business buyers crave authenticity. The social Web enables public relations professionals to talk with customers and prospects, not at them, which can foster valuable relationships. Creating meaningful bonds between a brand and media/consumers helps position the brand ahead of competitors.
Make a brand referential: Social media applied strategically for public relations can help make a brand referential. Once a brand is referential, it benefits greatly from links, mentions and attention. It becomes seen as the go-to source for that industry since the Web itself is referential.
Build a permission asset: By growing a community of your target audience (whether that’s media, business buyers or end users) via opt-in methods, it fosters a very different kind of relationship than interrupting them with messages. Anticipated, relevant messages are much more likely to be read, shared and reacted to than the old “spray and pray” approach to public relations.
How to Create an Effective PR/Social Media Strategy
Now that we’ve covered the “why,” the next step is a brief overview of the “how.” To create an integrated PR/social media strategy, public relations professionals should start by embracing the following core items:
Include a layer of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Search engines have been incorporating social content in organic search result, including Twitter tweets, blog posts and updates from other real-time services. Optimizing social public relations content — including headlines, alt text, images and video — with target keywords is essential to get found for the terms people are actively seeking out.
Stay platform agnostic. Remember, strategy isn’t about tools and tactics like Twitter and Facebook. Go platform agnostic and focus on being known as a leader in a niche at the macro level. This is a powerful, long term approach: If the history of the Web has taught us anything, it’s that networks come and go, but leaders remain.
Commit long term. Effective social tactics can produce immediate results. But a single tactical success is not necessarily an indicator of sustainable growth. Public relations professionals should engage in continued, methodical tactics over planned lengths of time. If a social media strategy is sound, it will pay off in time and provide increasing returns.
The above is a primer for public relations professionals to create a digital public relations strategy that plays into the social Web. Of course, all brands should approach this differently, leveraging their unique strengths and positions in the marketplace.
What do you see as most vital for creating a digital public relations strategy?
Adam Singer is a digital marketing account manager for TopRank Online Marketing, where he provides social media, SEO and digital marketing strategy for clients. Previously a digital public relations strategist, Adam has had repeated success with marketing on the social web for premier consumer brands such as Joffrey’s Coffee & Tea Company and Berkshire Hathaway’s International Dairy Queen. He also contributes to Online Marketing Blog maintained by TopRank Online Marketing team members, and is creator of The Future Buzz, a blog covering media, marketing and public relations.
About TopRank® Online Marketing
TopRank® Online Marketing is a digital marketing and public relations agency based in Minnesota, serving Fortune 1000 companies nationwide. TopRank provides strategic consulting, implementation and training services with an emphasis on enterprise and mid-market company search engine optimization, social media and online public relations. TopRank has been cited in numerous books and industry blogs as well as U.S. News & World Report, Fortune and The Economist for its Internet marketing expertise. TopRank CEO Lee Odden is a frequent speaker at industry conferences, including Search Engine Strategies, WebmasterWorld Pubcon, PRSA International Conference, BlogWorldExpo, OMMA, Media Relations Summit and the DMA Annual conference. As a respected authority on SEO, public relations and social media, TopRank has provided course material for the basic and advanced Search Marketing Certification program offered by the national DMA.