Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Communication, Creative Campaigning & Crisis Management: The Role of Social Media in PR


Having been immersed in the realm of Social Media Management before I began my journey into the field of Public Relations, I’ve always viewed the various tools and applications provided by online to be an incredibly integral part of communicating. While I have never been able to separate communications from social media (for me, they must coexist), I failed to recognize the myriad of ways in which social media can aid communicators until I embarked on the Public Relations program at Mohawk. Since then, I’ve been increasingly interested in the many ways social media can be – and should be, in my opinion – leveraged by Public Relation’s practitioners.

Here’s a few ways I think social media can benefit the PR field:

Social Media, of course, allows communicators to, well, communicate. However, it allows us to do so in a myriad of ways. For one, we can choose which medium we want to communicate with, be it video, long-format blog posts or condensed Tweets. It also allows for us to build - and maintain - a brand identity. With the handful of features afforded to us by social media, such as Google Analytics, we're able to evaluate who our target demographic is and what they respond to. This idea of demographics is expanded on by Blue Fountain here. Many of these platforms allow for social sharing, too. In fact, you can even embed social sharing options into press releases. In this regard, social media acts as an incredibly powerful supplementary tool that compliments your exisiting (offline) strategies.

Creative Campaigning:
What I love about social media is the way it allows professional communicators to mold it. You can really be innovative with your social media strategies and campaigns. This is due to the sheer number of (usually free) platforms available for use. These platforms often integrate well with one another, too. For instance, you can link your accounts together through an application called IFTTT. The options are endless with social media applications. All of these platforms and integrative features truly provide PR practitioners with more opportunities to create dynamic, engaging content. You can check out some amazing, innovative social media campaigns of 2015 (according to Forbes, at least) over at their website.

Crisis Management:
Social Media has changed how we communicate - for better and for worse. While PR practitioners can use social media to communicate with large audiences in a creative and engaging manner, this constant connectivity has its downsides. As we know, the Internet never sleeps - and as a result, you have to be on guard 24/7. However, social media can also aid in managing issue and crises. In fact, there's a lot of studies on social media and crisis management, including this White Paper report from Affect. This guide suggests that social media can be an effective tool in the management of crisis if used in the correct manner. 

In closing, it's important to remember that social media and Public Relations should, in most cases, go hand in hand. I'll leave you with this statement from HubSpot's Guide on How to Leverage Social Media for Public Relations Success
"People have always said good – and bad – things about brands, and now that social
media has risen in popularity, it means people have another platform to talk about your
company and products/services. The major difference, however, is in the viral nature of
this platform. When someone mentions your brand in social media, there is much more
potential for other people to notice, and it‟s monumentally easier for conversations to
spread much more quickly and easily. In addition, these conversations have the
potential to reach a much larger audience than ever before. If your company is not
participating in social media today, it‟s missing an opportunity to spread its message
and missing valuable – and even damaging – conversations that could be taking place
about your brand."
And there you have it - social media is growing, and becoming increasingly important in the realm of Public Relations. These features, as well as many, many more, are definitely worth keeping in mind as we embark on our own careers in Public Relations.

Happy posting!


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