How do you view the relationship of and between, PR and social media?
Do you see them as all part of the same mix? Perhaps as separate tools to achieve the same goal? Or, do you favour the idea that they serve very different purposes and therefore cannot be viewed as a collaborative?
Public relations has, at its core level, always been about the intention of creating dialogue that informs decisions. It’s about the building of relationships to generate conversation and thus increase audience and awareness.
Of course, there will naturally be those who argue that today, in the world of ‘instant’ social media, the very purpose of the press release (one of the known PR functions) and its bid to win column inches in traditional means, is outdated and irrelevant.
But that’s not the entire picture.
Public relations is the artform of the storytelling, and while it may be true that it’s now easier to reach a campaign message direct to the recipient without the intermediary of an editor, that wider story, development, and goal-setting identification is as vital as ever when one wants to expose a product or service.
Perhaps the answer here is for us in the creative industries to look less at whether we can ‘replace’ one another in our field, but whether our ‘toolbox’ is further expanded and makes a client’s potential outcomes even better.
Let’s take that press release for example.
The fact that it’s a single source of considered and strategically plotted story-telling – complete with stats and comment and a context – makes it full of integrity when received on the editor’s desk.
Now here’s the clever bit….
View it that social media then ‘aids’ the mix of PR, and you can see why an editor would see even more credibility and newsworthiness to his or her audience when the same press release also sits in the context of a weblink to a social media post demonstrating that thousands are already ‘liking’ or ‘discussing’ that same piece of news generation online.
What it tells the editor collectively is that, yes, it’s credible, and yes – its transmission is causing a stir and therefore has a place in his/her news medium too.
Let’s not forget that Public Relations has the word ‘relations’ in its description for a reason. It is not merely a ‘broadcast’ function, but an evolving, organic, changing effort to influence and educate audiences at all levels.
It is about identifying which relationships are the right ones to target and expanding on them with the appropriate content creation.
Social media, meanwhile, takes the framed conversation and helps it to keep radiating in an ongoing way as the public relations activity does its work.
Most likely, it has the power to turn the conversation into a stronger ‘call to action’ too.
What’s certainly clear, is that we’re in an age of communication channels where ‘togetherness’ has the best opportunity to win client confidence and deliver measurable results.
Done to a full extent, social media activity should be about more than just ‘dishing out the same PR-initiated content’, but applying the tactics and skills of accomplished digital experts to ensure its reaching where it should, at the right time, and with the right outcomes.
Likewise, that digital expertise means some of the gripes around the ‘unquantifiable nature’ of traditional PR (we all know the despair around AVE!), can now begin to be answered with bringing more undeniable stats-and-facts results to an original public relations campaign.
So what does this ultimately reveal about the defining start and stop from PR to social media?
Well, there really can be only one conclusion.
No one output or expert can be considered to be a masterful solution for all ends of the content and news-generation spectrum.
If we all want happy clients, with measurable results, achieving effective delivery that’s organically growing and ever mindful of human behaviours and changing habits – then we ALL have to pull up a seat at the table.
A conversation is only a conversation with multiple parties. Forget that and you forget the very essence of public relations.