Social media is quite possibly the world’s most significant technological advancement of the 21st century. With a streamlined way to distribute information to mass media, it enhances communication and provides easy access to insights at the push of a button. With communication the key to success in PR, it seems only obvious that social media and public relations be paired like a fine wine and cheese.
Social media is the key to creating brand awareness in today’s society. An article published in the Public Relations Review states, “In fact, 87% of marketers believe that the goal of social media is to increase brand awareness; while 62% find that social media increase web traffic; 61% report that social media improve a brand’s or client’s reputation, 45% use social media in order to generate leads, while 40% use social media in order to increase sales and, lastly, 38% of marketers find that social media improve customer service” (Allagui & Breslow, 2016). With such a lengthy list of things that social media works to increase and improve, it’s hard to imagine the world of PR without it.
For most people, myself included, social media is the last thing they check before they go to bed, and the first thing they look at before getting out of bed in the morning. It’s become this sort of addiction in today’s society. Businesses must now build a powerful image through social media as well as trust in order to be perceived favorably among their vast audiences.
Social media is also important to public relations because it allows for feedback; not only from consumer to brand, but also from brand to consumer. Brown, Sikes, and Willmott’s report was quoted in the Public Relations Review stating that “56% of executives say digital engagement with customers is at least a top-ten company priority” (Allagui & Breslow, 2016). With social media always on and always open, issues can be solved rapidly through constant open communication which in turn leads to most PR crises being stopped early in the cycle (“5 Ways Social Media,” 2016). This new form of engagement allows the public to communicate with businesses which in turn allows them to better gauge effectiveness and impact.
Social media has also made it possible for almost all businesses to integrate some form of PR. Previously, only politicians and large corporations had the budget to spend on specialized public relations, but an article by the 5W Public Relations Agency notes how this may not be true anymore. “Today, even small businesses can afford to hire a college student studying communications, journalism or public relations to manage their online presence. This makes PR affordable to the businesses that need it, and who cannot afford more professional and experienced PR assistance” (“5 Ways Social Media,” 2016).
According to a 2007 PRSA Wired for Change Survey, “the majority of public relations professionals state that the use of communication technology has made their job easier by expediting the circulation of information to reach broader audiences” (Eyrich, Padman, & Sweetser, 2008). With technology evolving and improving every day, it’s important that PR practitioners stay up to date on the latest tools of communication. While social media is an incredible medium in it of itself, it’s up to the professionals behind it to create engaging content that makes consumers say, “I’d double tap that.”
- Allagui, I., & Breslow, H. (2016). Social media for public relations: Lessons from four effective cases. Public Relations Review, 42(1), 20-30. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.12.001
- Eyrich, N., Padman, M. L., & Sweetser, K. D. (2008). PR practitioners’ use of social media tools and communication technology. Public Relations Review, 34(4), 412-414. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2008.09.010
- 5 Ways Social Media has Changed Public Relations. (2016, October 6). Retrieved from http://www.5wpr.com/new/social-media-public-relations/
Image by Bethany Garcia