How social media has changed public relations

If you’re being honest, you probably read this title and your first thought was probably, well of course social media has changed public relations… You know what, you’re right. But stick with me.

It’s been almost a year since I left the world of Journalism and began my journey in the PR world. Among the many lessons I’ve learned has been how to really take advantage of social media and how to communicate and share information with key audiences.  As I follow daily conversations on Twitter and read numerous blogs, I feel confident in saying that social media has infiltrated nearly every industry and impacted on our lives over the last 10 years.

In this blog, I will explore just some of the countless ways in which I believe social media has changed public relations.

Crisis Communications has become even more crucial

Let’s start with a topic we’ve been discussing in the office at length and the subject around our previous blog.

Social media has provided a whole new way for brands to mess up big time in front of their audience if they aren’t careful. It’s also provided an easy platform for customers to air bad customer experiences on Facebook and Twitter.  However, this does force companies to resolve issues speedily to avoid a PR crisis.

As PR professionals, we’re responsible for managing brand voice and protecting the online reputation of a client. Failure to monitor social media for brand mentions and have a plan in place for responding to customer feedback (positive or negative) could be a missed opportunity.

Social has introduced a whole new branch of media: influencers

Social media hasn’t just provided an outlet for companies and journalists to share breaking news, it’s also brought about a new type of citizen journalist: the influencer.

From a fitness enthusiast with 200k followers on Instagram to a beauty vlogger with 5.6 million subscribers on YouTube, influencers are considered one of the most effective ways to attract new customers to a brand.

These social media influencers with high follower counts present big opportunities for the brands they represent.

Increased access to Journalists

Social media has and continues to help us get closer than ever to reporters.

I follow a number of journalists on social media, which helps me to gain an insight into what news stories they cover. This is particularly helpful when sending out press releases for clients. It’s also useful to understand a reporter’s tone of voice and opinions on relevant topics. 

Greater Engagement

In the past, communication was a one-way street, where companies put out content and customers had no public avenue to easily interact with or respond to distributed content.

Now, for better or worse, customers are able to engage with brands and their content by liking, sharing and commenting on posts.

This really helps brands know how effective content and ads are in reaching the masses, and boosting visibility, as opposed to the past where the effect of commercials and newspaper ads could only be measured in sales.

Social media growth shows no sign of slowing down and it’s up to us to adapt our strategy and not get left behind.