The Importance of Social Media in Public Relations
Public relations has typically been reserved for journalists, marketing and the human resource department but all of that is about to change due to the growing importance of social media. As a social media management firm, the number of total inquiries related to public relations is a relatively small – but rapidly growing -area of interest among small business owners…and with good reason. A recent survey found that an eye-opening 80% of public relations professionals routinely use social media to cultivate media relationships, share important company news and solicit feedback. Perhaps even more importantly, clients and business affiliations are turning to social media as a primary source of news and information about products, services or other updates of interest.
A Glaring Gap
As exciting as the above statistics might sound, there is a glaring gap among the majority of small business owners and the use of social media; in fact, this gap is not limited to small business owners…the majority of social media marketing firms and management companies also fail to appreciate the importance of this single, solitary segment of PR. Of course, they aren’t to blame. Without inside knowledge of the PR industry, it’s easy to overlook. Fortunately for our readers, the expertise and experience with public relations provides exactly the tools needed to transform a lackluster social media PR campaign into a powerhouse approach to connecting with all the right movers and shakers in an industry.
First a Few Facts
Before we get into the details, let’s take a few minutes to cover a few important facts about the use of social media in public relations. Despite 80% of PR pro’s using social media, fewer than 1 out of 6 small business owners use social media to connect with journalists, bloggers and industry writers. BIG mistake! Writers are the bread and butter of any communication campaign with the added benefit of having immense networks, connections and “voice”. Writers, journalists and even bloggers are always on the look-out for a new story, a few good facts, some stats or other items of interest. Even if your product or service is not the primary point of interest, the mere mention in a significant publication is well worth the time and effort.
If You Provide It – They Will Use it!
One of the biggest misperceptions is that journalists have their own network of information; while that is technically true, there is always a need for fresh sources or alternative voices. When asked whether or not they would be inclined to use or pass along information provided via a social media press kit, more than 90% responded in the affirmative! Remember, this is not merely using social media to distribute a press release but rather creating a complete PR kit designed to network and affiliate with writers, journalists, bloggers and others able and willing to pass along your information either formally or informally.
Which Social Media Sites Work Best?
By now, savvy small business owners should be picking up the phone to contact their primary social media manager because this is exciting information! However, not every platform is equally preferred. In order of importance, the following social media sites will maximize your exposure among this important PR link:
- Twitter – 35%: Many people might be surprised to see Twitter top the list of preferred social media sites but the super quick nature with a leading headline is an intuitive time-saver. Remember, content creation is one of the most important but time-consuming aspects of every marketing method so it’s not surprising that writers are always searching for a great story that requires minimal time.
- Facebook – 30%: Journalists and writers alike are only human so not surprisingly, use Facebook in droves. Make it easy to cultivate great connections by creating a “go to” page just for photo’s, story ideas, facts or other items of interest.
- LinkedIn – 23%: LinkedIn might seem like the most natural fit but often PR pro’s are searching for something a bit out of the ordinary. The conservative and somewhat traditional nature of LinkedIn is the exact reason it falls to third place among many writers. However, don’t dare neglect this uber useful site especially when releasing a traditional PR piece.
How To Get Started
They key is to create a “ready to go” PR kit that makes it easy for the writer, journalist or other “inquiring mind” to utilize information in a variety of unique ways. Here are a few important tips to help collect the needed information and get started:
1. Establish a regular time. When trying to attract the interest of PR professionals and writers, it’s extremely important to pick the right time; over 65% deliberately dedicate several hours each week to reading and researching upcoming stories of interest in their field or industry. Make sure your social media blast is on their radar at the right time!
2. Create a compelling PR kit. A social media PR kit should include ready to use photographs, logo download, FAQ’s, quick statistics of interest and other pertinent information in an easy to access area. Larger sized business concerns often provide a special site or at least section of a website for PR pro’s but small business owners would also benefit from the creation of a select group of available resources.
3. Cultivate connections. Don’t use a shotgun approach to social media PR! Instead, take time to cultivate a relationship with PR pro’s, journalists, writers and bloggers in your specific field or industry. If you aren’t sure how to go about it, take time to speak with your social media marketing team.