How to Power-Pack Your PR with Social Media
The following post is courtesy of Rochelle Reiter at Orange Label as part of client-contributed content to our CONNECT newsletter.
Gone are the days of simply posting a press release on the wire, sending it out to editors, following up with a few phone calls, and paying a press clipping service to see if your brand got “ink”. Of course, these elements are still important pieces of the public relations puzzle, but, with social media, getting the “word out” about your brand is more immediate, sharable, and engaging than ever.
Before we dive in, let’s get some terminology covered. I often find myself in conversations with prospective clients who say, “We need PR.” My response to that question is, “When you say PR, what are you looking for, specifically?” I get responses varying from “We want to get the word out about our brand” to “We want to tell our story” to “We want to increase sales.” The term “public relations” has evolved so much over the past few years that many people have varying definitions. Simply put, public relations is the professional maintenance of a favorable public image.
Admittedly, the definition is pretty broad, and with more and more channels of communication in the marketplace, the opportunity to create a “favorable public image” and measure it immediately is available to brands and people. The fact is, social media is one of the most instant and measurable channels of communication available to marketers today.
Here are just a few of the ways social media can enhance your public relations efforts:
Yes, you can still distribute your press release over the wire and share it via email, but, with social media there are even more ways to increase the distribution of your newsworthy content and thought leadership. Posting news and other valuable content on social channels, such as Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook, casts a wider net in reaching your audience. Using hashtags in posts on LinkedIn, Instagram, and Twitter will help your brand get discovered when people search for content that relates to your industry. Simply publish the content you want to share and see its impact within minutes.
Did you know that 86% of Twitter users rely on the site for news and the vast majority of those (74%) do so daily? In fact, according to The American Press Institute, three-quarters of Twitter users follow individual journalists, writers and commentators (73%) and nearly two-thirds follow institutional accounts (62%). Twitter users also are likely to discover new journalists and writers and consequently follow their work, often on other platforms beyond Twitter, expanding distribution and visibility even further.
As traditional newspaper readership continues to decline, more people are turning to social media for their news and information. As of August 2017, 67% of Americans report that they get at least some of their news on social media—with two-in-ten doing so often, according to a new survey from the Pew Research Center.
Hone in on Your Target
Social media also allows you to hyper-target your press release to audiences digitally. Geographic and demographic segmentation (ZIP code, job title, behavior and interests) is at your fingertips. You can reach audiences already invested in your brand and connect with people who match your user profile who might be unaware of your products or services.
Looking deeper into the larger social media players, below is a list of targeting options to maximize impact by focusing in on key profiles:
Facebook and Instagram (read the full list here)
- Locations (e.g.: living in, recently in, traveling in)
LinkedIn (read the full list here)
- Company industry, size, name, etc.
- Fields of study
- Job title
Leverage the Power of Influence
People trust individuals more than brands. This opens up an enormous opportunity for people to influence the purchases we make and create a favorable public image, beyond traditional public relations. Influencer marketing harnesses the power of “influencers,” (people with a large social media following), to help sell products and services. Influencers use your product and tell their followers about it, transferring the clout they hold with their followers to your brand. It’s word-of-mouth marketing via social channels. When you work with an influencer, you have more control about how and when your brand is talked about than a traditional PR push, where writers and editors position your brand in a variety of ways. A recent article in Adweek states that 78% of fashion companies are employing influencers. Instagram, followed by Facebook and YouTube, were the most active platforms for influencers in 2017-2018.
Who’s Listening? Social is.
In the past, we relied on press clipping services to “listen” to the latest news in our industry and mentions of our brands. With social media, we have a new means of gaining insight called “social listening.” Many companies offer social listening tools that can give you real-time insight into your brand’s reputation. According to Hubspot, “social listening is the monitoring of your brand's social media channels for any customer feedback and direct mentions of your brand or discussions regarding specific keywords, topics, competitors, or industries, followed by an analysis to gain insights and act on those opportunities.”
So how does social listening work? A social listening/monitoring tool takes keywords of your choice (typically the name of your brand, your industry, your products) and searches social media and the internet for these keywords. In addition, just as hashtags increase your searchability, they can also be used as keywords in listening.
Social listening will help you take the pulse on your brand’s relevancy in the marketplace. It will show you what conversations your brand is a part of as well as where your brand is not showing up. For example, if you are listening for a key term in your industry and your brand does not show up in that conversation, you may decide to tweak your outreach strategy to expand your brand’s presence. Social listening gives you the qualitative insight for fine-tuning your messaging and outreach in the marketplace.
The time-tested fundamentals of public relations remain strong and, with social media as a widely accepted source for news and information, brands have a new opportunity to power-up PR strategies. Expanding your distribution, hyper-targeting your message to custom audiences, accessing influencers and using social listening will only enhance your brand’s market leadership.
A Southern California Native, Rochelle Reiter joined Orange Label’s media department in 1995 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton’s School of Business and Economics. As a key member of the agency’s senior leadership team providing valuable input into its strategic direction, Rochelle became an Owner and Agency Principal of Orange Label in 2007.