How does social media and PR work together, or if at all?

The ongoing relationship between Retail and Technology
November 3, 2018

According to research from American based Association of National Advertisers, 62% of marketers in the US plan to increase spending on internal PR staffing, and a further 75% of marketers plan to spend on increasing overall PR in the same period. It used to be that Public Relations was the ‘soft serve’ of its ‘cream of the crop’ cousins in Marketing and Media and Communications. Social media as a distribution mechanism of opinion, news and personal profiling has provided public relations with an even playing field.
Public Relations is essentially about Relationship Building. Reaching out to journalists and media houses through a structured, and lengthy period of time signified the PR industry. The growth of social media has changed the nature of relationship building. Relying on traditional media gatekeepers to help brand build is no longer the case. Brands have at their disposal, owned platforms to craft messages and participate in conversations relating to their industries.
While public relations traditionally ran as a method of carefully controlled company image generation, social media has demanded that PR practitioners demonstrate authenticity and quicker response time to market on a variety of issues.

Some takeaways from the PRSA’s (Public Relations Society of Americas’ International) 2018 Conference

Convergence and Communication was the overall theme that directed this conference which took place a week ago in Austin, Texas. Big Data was also a major focus of the conference. Some of the key take-aways can be summed up well enough in these quotes from major industry players: 1. On today’s conversations: “Civility is when the value of your relationship is greater than winning the argument.” - Robert Gould, CEO, Gould+Partners
2. On data and measurement: "It's not activity-based and about a book of news clips. PR is about outcome-based thinking and what it did for your organization. "- Dan Beltramo, CEO, AirPR
3. On storytelling: “Be a storyteller first and a PR person second.” – Ann Handley, partner, MarketingProfs
4. On following journalists on Twitter: “When asked in a survey if journalists like when PR professionals follow you on social media, 86 percent said yes. They like the attention. Make sure you follow the journalists you work with.”- Natan Edelsburg, COO, MuckRack

Data Driven insights

Data-driven activity defines the modern day relationship between social media and public relations. PR firms in the digital age drive reputation management through quantifiable insights derived from sophisticated tools.
“Many public relations campaigns leave clients not able to accurately track the results of their PR efforts,” says Kayla Starta, PR Director for Fifth Avenue Brands. “Our data-driven approach brings a new light to PR campaigns. This allows for in-depth tracking of key metrics for PR campaigns, including impressions, social impact, and ROI.”

The increasing spend by marketers on PR resources, tools and campaigns is evident of the increasing quantifiable value that PR brings to brand building.

Corporate Communications vs Social Speakout

For public relations departments, the view that controversial issues should be avoided has long been near unquestionable. Increasingly, however, consumers expect the companies they do business with to take a stand on relevant issues and assert their values publicly. According to a study Championing Change in the Age of Social Media carried out by leading social media software insights provider Sprout Social who surveyed 1000 respondents found that: 41% of respondents believe that it is important for brands to take a stand or social and political issues. Remember the Nike campaign that upheld Colin Kaepernick’s stance on kneeling whilst the American anthem was sung to protest police brutality against Black citizens. Global Strategy Group’s latest 2018 Survey has found that 76% of people believe that corporations should take a stand for their political beliefs despite its controversial level. This is up from 44% found in their 2013 survey. It seems that corporate communications is very much aligned with employee advocacy which is derived from company culture - one of the key components of a company’s PR strategy.
“My sense is that from the consumer perspective and from the employee perspective, people are looking for purpose. On the employee side, we are seeing a huge priority placed on a company’s values, and employees who want to ensure the companies that they work for share their values.”

Julie Hootkin, Partner at the Global Strategy Group

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Ciao for now.