How Social Media Has Changed PR

How Social Media Has Changed PR
How Social Media Has Changed PR

Today, PR and social media are both indispensable mouth pieces for brand messaging. Is it time for the two departments to merge? Whether full integration is your next step, or just much closer collaboration, read these tips on how to make it work. Then read our comprehensive ebook on aligning PR and social media efforts.

There’s one truth that anyone working in public relations can relate to. Our profession is constantly evolving—and so are PR skills and PR tools. The advent of social media has had one of the most significant impacts on PR. It’s forever changed the way we share and promote news and stories.

What is PR today? The 24/7 news cycle that social media feeds is a beast that PR professionals must wrestle with. The idea that a customer complaint could spiral into a full-blown crisis means that both social media and PR must be aware and ready to act with a crisis plan in place to address such a situation head-on.

But how can brands connect the dots between these social media marketing and PR?

How Do Social Media and PR Fit Together?

With the rise of social media, some in PR see the natural fit between the two. For example, when an organization has a press announcement, social media makes it easier to share the news and get it out to various audiences. It gives public relations teams a more direct way to reach out to more people.

When creating messages and writing for social media platforms, PR pros are old hands at this type of work. Many went to journalism school and write daily as part of their roles.

Then there’s influencer marketing. Long before social media—and social media influencers—public relations practitioners were working with influencers—known then as journalists and industry analysts. PR pros understand how to bring influencers on board as part of the plan to get the word out about whatever the brand is promoting. They know how to build those relationships that can benefit the company.

How Can Brands Better Integrate PR and Social?

While in some organizations the PR and social teams collaborate, in others, there can be a disconnect. How can the two groups work better together?

Integration is needed in order to get the most from each of these functions. There may be some overlap in what the two do. Working more closely together can benefit the company and help it to appear that the messaging is all coming from the same place. You don’t want to have social media off running in one direction while the PR team is heading in another.

Here are a few areas the two should be in sync on: 

  1. Customers: PR can look to social media for customer feedback or user-generated content that could be amplified and worked into other messaging and campaigns. As the social media team has its finger on the pulse of the customer, who knows better than they do what content might be a fit to help promote the brand? They can be bringing this to the attention of their PR counterparts.
  2. Ethics: When it comes to creating content for social media, that team can coordinate with the public relations side of the house to ensure that the brand messaging is accurately reflected. Ensure the content is aligned with brand values. PR pros have an innate sense of what’s appropriate. You don’t want to end up in the position of a brand that appears tone-deaf, so bring the public relations team into the mix to act as a sounding board for what you’re sharing.
  3. Sharing: Be sure to include your social media links in your press releases. Make it easy for reporters or other audiences to follow and connect with you on social.
  4. Crisis communications: In the event of a crisis, PR and social teams MUST coordinate for the well-being of the brand. The social media team is sometimes the first to know of a brewing crisis. They can alert the PR team, who can help craft a response to share.

Then, social media monitoring enables PR to better understand how the message is being received. Is the response favorable? This can continue after the crisis to gauge the brand’s recovery from the incident. Social listening becomes vital to the PR team’s plan of action.

Unite Your PR and Social Media Teams 

The bottom line? Don’t silo PR and social media teams. You may want to make the case that these teams should merge, or at the very least, collaborate very closely. For best practices on better aligning PR and social media, read our comprehensive ebook.