Module 1: Thinking Faster with Social Media

How the social web has changed PR

The social web allows PR to communicate with our target audience in a meaningful way. Rather than talking at them we are able to have a conversation with them. The immediacy of the social web enables us to directly share our message with our stakeholders and customers – without having to rely on traditional media. However with these changes PR must be prepared to respond with greater immediacy. Ideally we should develop our client’s online presence before a crisis happens.

Public Relations fundamentals remain the same but the tools to achieve our goals and the ability to connect with our audience has opened new doors. According to recent data from Media Technology Monitor, two out of three Canadians use Social Media in one form or another.

New connections are created with cyber conversations

According to comScore’s 2013 Canada Digital Future in Focus Report, the top three Canadian social networking sites are Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.

Navigating through the social media options and identifying how to effectively utilize them can seem overwhelming.  Think about how much Facebook has changed – it isn’t as popular with young people anymore who now favour Instagram to share ideas. Perhaps because it is more visual and allows them to better express their individuality. Initially PR used LinkedIn to support Human Resources recruitment efforts. In Canada, LinkedIn had the most significant growth, out of Twitter and Facebook from Q4 2011 to Q4 2012 based on total unique visitors. Since then there has been a shift and PR is now using LinkedIn for more than just attracting top talent. Companies are using this tool to engage followers to discuss projects, participate in surveys, and share corporate news and more.

In Canada, Twitter ranks second in popularity. Working in PR I’ve been asked by department managers to create a Twitter account for their division to increase brand visibility. Based on its popularity they see it as the ideal solution. What they fail to acknowledge is that every campaign requires a carefully planned strategy and a standalone tool may not be the sole solution.  I love it when someone is excited about social media and willing to embrace it. The challenge is to educate them – and myself – about how to utilize it effectively.

Whether your goal is to connect audiences, engage, influence or create a call to action I believe PR communicators will find success creating an integrated 360 communications plan that encompasses both social media and traditional methods to augment the visibility of their brand strategy.  Regardless of the platform you choose the fundamental principles remain the same. You have to know your audience, have access to relevant information to write compelling content; you have to be timely in your message and committed to listening. Most importantly you need to be patient and build a relationship with your stakeholders and customers.

Technology has always influenced how we share information and social media is making it more exciting to work in PR.


3 thoughts on “Module 1: Thinking Faster with Social Media

  1. Hi Sylvia – I love that term “cyber conversations”! It sounds very futuristic and “science-fictony” :). That being said, I agree very much with your comments regarding the importance of having a strategy when using social media; having a twitter handle or a facebook page isn’t going to solve all your social media woes – figuring out the correct way to use them to accomplish your social media/public relations goals is. Great post!

  2. I really enjoyed reading your post. I completely agree that there is often a tendency in PR to jump right to tactics, rather than developing and implementing a carefully planned communications strategy. In the olden days, people used to ask their PR department to produce brochures and pamphlets, without necessarily understanding what the goal and objectives were for producing the material in the first place. And often the same holds true for social media. Simply having a Twitter or Facebook account will not (necessarily) address the communications problem/opportunity that you are trying to address. I think you are correct when you state that while the tactics may have changed, the fundamental principles of PR have not. For a PR campaign to be effective, practitioners should continue to use the RACE formula – Research, Approach, Communications, Evaluation – to develop a comprehensive communications strategy.

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