Written by Contributor Lisa Day
Times have changed for public relations (PR) professionals looking to get their messages out to an audience that is spending more time online than ever before.
With more than two billion active users on Facebook, over 700 million users on Instagram and over 300 million users on Twitter [source: Smart Insights], people are using social media to get news, share content and forge relationships.
And while social media is continually evolving, so are the PR professionals who are creating new ways to share their messages.
So, how has social media changed the way PR professionals do business?
1. Instant gratification
There was a time, not that long ago, when people had to wait to read a story in their morning newspaper or watch it on the six o’clock news before they found out what was going on. Now, people are looking at their news feeds to read headlines and stories from around the world and reacting to them, often before a journalist can post her breaking news story online.
PR professionals provide information to an audience hungry for instant news and interesting content. They can engage immediately with followers, liking and sharing their content and providing comment.
2. PR nightmare
The downside of this immediacy is that people are quick to share negative comments and complaints on social media, particularly about brands and customer service. This negativity can quickly snowball, creating a PR nightmare.
Public relations professionals often decide how to manage comments — both good and bad — on social media ahead of time and how quickly they will respond. Being engaged, authentic and showing kindness often go a long way.
3. Bigger audience
While getting your story on TV or radio and in print is still important — some say the most important — others are acknowledging the reach of bloggers and influencers, those who have a following in a particular niche with whom they engage on social media.
PR professionals use these influencers to help spread their message and information about products and services.
4. Easier access to public relations
Because of the accessibility of social media, more small business owners and entrepreneurs are doing their own marketing and public relations, instead of hiring it out.
PR professionals can show their value by offering unique campaigns and information about the changes in social media that small business owners and entrepreneurs may not have the time, know-how or patience to do.
5. Two constants
Regardless of how social media evolves, two things will likely remain constant: if you have great content and make connections with your followers, you will be successful; and PR professionals who create content that provides information, rather than tries to sell a product, will create loyal followers who will do their part to spread the message.
Lisa Day has more than 20 years’ experience in both traditional and digital journalism. She is a blogger at Book Time and Follow Summer, content creator, storyteller, social media specialist and communication professional. Lisa can be reached at thisandthatday[@]gmail.com.