PR and Social Media, two specialties of marketing, are chalk and cheese but are progressively getting entwined like never before. For example, gradually, Twitter has become the go-to platform for brands to deliver maximum impact- whether it’s for issuing a speedy clarification on a PR crisis or for a new store launch amid the pandemic. Even for journalists, whether it’s for reporting about the latest funding round of a start-up or posting a development of ongoing trending news, a ‘Twitter thread’ takes precedence for them over a story put out the next day. Does this mean PR’s efficacy has taken a hit, and it is at the risk of unintentional ingestion by Social Media?
In my opinion, it’s high time both PR and Social Media teams get in a huddle room and think about how they can together revolutionise the way brands communicate; how they can take advantage of each other’s strengths, and help in creating a robust, symbiotic communication strategy.
Looking at the pandemic time, the definition of media very much changed when PR consultancies were lining up their clients for opportunities in webinars, podcasts, and clubhouse rooms of “social media influencers” more than opting for traditional media. These opportunities for brands to get featured in so many new kinds of online platforms say a lot about how the game is going to change in the near future.
Ways to incorporate social media in your PR strategy
It’s going to be a slow burn before we transition to an ideal scenario where PR and Social Media efforts don’t overlap. We can begin this process by first making our press releases and articles SEO-friendly. While an article published in a particular media gets views from the readers of that media, an SEO-friendly article will get views from a larger base when people search for keywords related to your brand.
To dominate search results for a particular ‘term’, one can begin with doing keyword research on the brand and the sector. Free tools like Moz or Ahrefs can be used to find out what are the relevant keywords to your client’s sector that could be part of your release. For example, if your client provides ‘secured loans’, one search on Ahrefs with the keywords will tell you what are the kind of searches people do related to secured loans. This exercise will also give you an idea about the next authored article topic you want to write for your client.
If you are looking to find out what questions are being asked by people on your brand or the sector and want to address them, use answerthepublic.com. This tool helps you to get raw data, questions from the minds of the brands’ customers in an eye-pleasing infographic format.
Another way social media can play a big role is to interact and engage with journalists online. The digital team can share the brand’s articles written by these journos and can tag them while sharing them. But, we all should avoid spamming journos with trivial developments on the company on social platforms.
Reputation is built over years
Social Media’s approachability is unparalleled but Public Relations’ dependability is undeniable. Given that people have access to brands directly on social platforms, they prefer to communicate with them directly than wait for an official announcement. The narrative has clearly shifted and it has put power in the hands of the audience to steer or alter the messaging of a campaign the way they want it. For example, for the wrong portrayal of any community or hurting sentiments of a group, we often see a social media backlash with hashtags that ask for banning a brand or uninstalling their app.
This is where PR steps in; where it provides a well-crafted, seasoned media strategy that allows taking control of the situation via ‘trustworthy’ outlets. There are various brands that use their social media handles with the intent of inducing sales and hence use a certain tone and vocabulary that is commensurate with it. Changing that tone and voice too often may alter the audience’s perception of you. In this scenario, PR becomes intrinsically important from a larger marketing context to eschew or address brand reputation malfunction. It takes years to build a strong reputation and it is gained via rigorous, effective brand building and PR exercise.
A much-needed partnership
The fact that both PR and social media have their individual strength is incontestable. As we move further in the digital-first era, to ensure that brand messaging correctly lands and reaches its target audience, it’s high time that both disciplines should work in tandem and be closely integrated with the overall marketing mix. Businesses who successfully combine PR and social media into a unified, cohesive campaign will undoubtedly see improved ROI. After all, there is a mutual benefit in working together. Every Harvey Specter needs a Michael Ross, every Walter White needs collaboration with a Jesse Pinkman and every Fox Mulder needs a partner like Dana Scully.
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