The Role of Social Media in Public Relations
Though the days of press releases, press conferences, and print aren’t completely retired, they may be close. Over the years, technology has made a huge break though and with that came many new media channels that have, for the most part, forced industries to get on top of modern media and keep up with all of the things. Social media is one of the biggest modern media channels, if not the biggest, and PR pros should definitely be using this to their advantage. I plan to talk about a few different aspects of social media being used in Public Relations.
I’d first like to talk about the crisis communication in PR and the impact that social media has on these situations. Public Relations is pretty much a necessity for all brands, especially in today’s society where customers are constantly putting complaints out there for the world to see on social media. In order to keep your brand from getting bad rep that will eventually stick, PR pros should always be available and on top of these complaints for the brand in order to improve costumer service and prevent future complaints by using social media as a form of analytics and constructive criticism.
In my opinion, there are many pros and cons to social media in the PR world. Mostly pros, but there are some things that will just never be unseen and the potential danger these things could put a company in, could be pretty threatening. If a mistake is made through a social media site it is out there forever and no matter how fast it is deleted, millions of people have already seen it, screenshot it, and shared it. It is then only a matter of minutes before this mistake goes viral. This is where it is crucial to have a PR team on hand to do immediate damage control. There is also a benefit of social media within this, any sort of mistake that is made or crisis that has broken out social media allows for an immediate response from the company instead of having to reach out to reporters to give a public apology and wait for it to be televised. This immediate response is crucial because the company is able to let consumers know that the problem is already being investigated, researched, and fixed.
Now I’d like to talk about the implement of social media in PR and how it is benefitting both sides. It is clear that social media is reshaping the practice of PR (Allagui and Breslow. 2016, p. 1). According to DiStaso and McCorkindale, “The importance of social media to the field of public relations cannot be underscored, and is essential for the operations of many organizations” (DiStaso and McCorkindale 2012, p. 76). Social media has proven to be quick, convenient, and accessible from anywhere. Social media has also proven to be more than just “social” media. It is a source for breaking news, entertainment, as well as information.
An article titled, Social Media used by PR Practitioners stated that, “a previous study by Fitch (2009a; 2009b) found that PR practitioners in Malaysia and Singapore were hesitant to use new media because it meant a loss of human connection.” After conducting a study based off the results of this previous one, it was found that 84.6% of PR pros were actively using social media to communicate directly to their consumers and 72.7% agreed that social media communication resulted in an increase in brand awareness and popularity, as well as an increase in sales (Gabriel and Koh, 2016, p. 475).
Lastly, it is important to understand that social media is a very valuable tactic in PR and constantly offers huge opportunities. According to Tom Malcom, from an article titled: The impact of social media on public relations, “The key is to have a strategy: think carefully about the resources you have and how you can keep control of any conversations you begin. If you treat social media as a key part of your PR and wider business strategy you can achieve real business results” (Writer, 2012. Para. 1). It is essential that PR pros know how to create personality and story behind a brand and by doing this, it is likely that success will be found in increasing brand awareness and audience engagement though social media.
Suzic, B., Karlícek, M., & Stríteský, V. (2016). Adoption of social media for public relations by museums. Central European Business Review, 5(2), 5-16. Retrieved on March 28, 2017, from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1834365254?accountid=39473
Allagui, I., & Breslow, H. (2016). Social media for public relations: Lessons from four effective cases. Public Relations Review, 42(1), 20-30. doi:10.1016/j.pubrev.2015.12.001
Gabriel, S. P., & Koh, C. (2016). SOCIAL MEDIA USE BY PUBLIC RELATIONS PRACTITIONERS IN MALAYSIA: AN EXPLORATORY STUDY. The Journal of Developing Areas, 50(5), 469-477. Retrieved on March 27, 2017, from http://search.proquest.com.ezproxy.gvsu.edu/docview/1792534971?accountid=39473
Writer , S. (2012, March 21). The impact of social media on public relations. Retrieved March 28, 2017, from http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/03/21/impact-social-media-public-relations