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How Social Media Has Changed PR

How Social Media Has Changed PR

Michelle Garrett

Jun 27, 2022

Today, social media and PR are both indispensable mouthpieces 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.

woman with a silver watch typing on her mobile phone

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 marketing, some in PR see the natural fit between the two because they are both communications based. Social media allows for the amplification of PR, allowing for your message to reach more people faster and with more impact.

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.  Before the days of social media, PR was directed to certain groups of people like investors, but now with social, PR teams have a more direct way to reach and engage audiences.

writing skills matter for pr

Social media PR has also allowed for businesses to build more personable relationships with consumers and seem more approachable. When creating messages and writing for social media platforms, PR pros are old hands at this type of work.

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.

Supporting link building efforts is another way that social media and PR can work together. It’s no secret that a big component of marketing and PR today boils down to achieving high authority backlinks. It’s not enough for a public relations pro to secure an earned media mention. To make a real impact on a brand’s SEO, a link has to accompany the media placement. 

“Links to your website equal authority,” says Andy Crestodina, co-founder and chief marketing officer at Orbit Media. “Authority increases the likelihood that anything on your domain will rank. This is why PR professionals have such a huge ability to affect search rankings.” 

PR pros who use social media strategically can obtain additional backlinks from a news story. Work with your social media team to amplify your news coverage and encourage engagement from influencers and industry communities. This could lead to high profile bloggers or YouTubers for example who are interested in giving more life to the original story.

How Can Brands Better Integrate PR and Social Media?

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

two men at a desk during a meeting

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. That's why it is essential to have a strategy on how to unite these two departments.

Here’s How to Sync Your Media and PR Teams

  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.
  5. Social media monitoring: This enables PR to better understand how the messages are 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.

Social PR: Unite Your Teams

The bottom line? Don’t silo social media and PR teams, practice social PR. 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.