I think that PR and social media are not separate and are in fact, today, the same thing.
I’ve been doing public relations for a long time. Before that I was a print journalist. And I’ve been using “social media” since the days when we called it a BBS or Usenet groups.
I’ve seen the mass media evolve from narrowcast to broadcast — and then from Compuserve to the WeLL to AOL to Craigslist to Ryze, then Friendster, Myspace, Tribe, blogging and today, Facebook and Twitter.
None of this is new. It’s all just a chat room. It’s all just community.
But what has changed, dramatically, is how we influence other influencers.
I call this “Social PR.” And it is why I believe that any marketing plan that separates PR from social media is destined to fail.
You cannot separate “PR” and “Social Media.” They must be on the same page. The strategy must be interwoven.
Your teams need to talk to each other. Your marketing strategy must be a social marketing strategy. Your PR strategy must be a Social Media strategy. You must evolve from the 1990s idea that the “press release” or “talking to the media” is any different than “talking to your customer”.
You must take social media seriously as the front line of your brand, pay attention to it, and stop posting lame, idiotic, poorly written, typo-riddled, boring dreck.
Do you hear me?
If you think you can outsource social media to India or hire interns, your entire business is at risk.
Social media is the front like of your brand!
Today, a single Facebook post can easily reach 1 million people. That’s more than the circulation of most daily newspapers.
Why is Facebook worth billions — and newspapers are dying?
Because a Facebook ad can reach more customers for $5 than any other form of marketing ever devised in the history of mankind.
But you’re blowing thousands of dollars on print ads?
Social media is marketing + branding + advertising + PR + analyst relations + investor relations + customer service rolled into one.
And you’re outsourcing that to the cheapest possible, lowest level employee you can find?
Good luck with that.
Today you talk to all of your audiences at the same time. This is a new era of transparency.
You used to need to own a TV network to have influence. Today, a kid in their bedroom could have more viewers on YouTube than Oprah.
A musician or DJ who happens to have 100,000 fans or friends could be much more influential than a columnist or a journalist. (Many magazines don’t even reach 100,000 subscribers.)
Get rid of that 1990s idea that a newspaper article is more influential than a Tweet.
Have you ridden the bus lately?
Do you see anyone reading a print publication?
So why on earth do you think spending $20,000 a month on a public relations agency and zero on your social media strategy is a good idea?
You need to start taking Social Media seriously as the front line of your communications strategy. It’s not an afterthought to be delegated to Interns, your receptionist, or “maybe I’ll get to it later”. Social media is the front line of your brand.
Social media is where you get to tell your own story. Where you generate your own news. Where you build relationships with the media. And where you let your customers know about your press coverage.
Social PR blends traditional mainstream print/TV/radio news media Press Relations with “content marketing”. (That’s a fancy word for: “photos with words on them.”
To do viral content marketing effectively, your messages must be created specifically to reach influencers who spread the word further.
This also means, simply, that your “friends” on your social network also happen to be reporters, freelance writers, columnists and editors and they “discover” the story ideas you share on their news feed. (This is kind of like sending out a press release only much faster.)
These days, instead of relying mainly on email pitching and press releases to announce news, I use Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter to build relationships with press and influencers.
Try following and befriending every member of the media or influencer crucial for your product. You’ll be surprised how many follow you back.
They spread the word for you to their networks, which include their Fan pages, Twitter and the blogs and publications they write for.
Some of them are traditional print or TV press.
Others are simply well connected on Pinterest, Twitter, Facebook and Instagram — but have influence equivalent to or greater than that of traditional media.
Try discovering who among your followers and friends spreads the word most frequently. Reward them. Thank them. Give them free tickets and favors. Remember: Social media is the new PR.
Over time, you create authentic, engaged communities who will be advocates of your brand. Who tell your story. Who spread the word for you.
I believe in telling a story so compelling that reporters think they discovered it on their own and the press call you. The best press coverage always happens this way — pull not push.