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Bridging the Gap Between Social Media and PR

lisa-barone
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BridgeIt can be difficult sometimes.

Breaking down silos and pushing teams to work together.

Encouraging departments to ignore comfort zones in favor of new ideas.

The tightrope balancing act of utilizing new platforms, while not abandoning the tried and the true.

But it has to be done. And nowhere is this challenge more apparent than in bridging the gap that can exist between your agency's public relation initiatives and its actions in social media. Instead of working in silos and repeating work, why not use one to strengthen the other?

Where can you integrate PR and social media to increase mentions, awareness and overall brand kickass-ness?

Media Relations

Media relations may not be the only component of a successful public relations campaign, but it's certainly an important one. It's also one most rocked by this social media train.

Where reporters were once confined to the depth of their Rolodex, today we have new ways of reaching out to the eyes we want to catch. By following reporters and media outlets on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and other social sites, we get in their line of sight.

We can spark up conversations about our favorite chocolate chip recipe and the best car seat for our kids, before circling back at a more appropriate time to mention a client relevant to their audience. We're able to form personal relationships and a rapport with people who also happen to be important to us from a business standpoint.

Social media allows us to build realrelationships over time, not the fake smiles we put on during trade shows and events. It's what PR professionals have always done, wrapped in a more accessible format.

Another way social media aligns with media relations is with vetting potential contacts. Just because John vouches for Jane doesn't mean Jane has the audience we're looking for. Or that she knows what she's doing.

We're able to use tools like Journalist Tweet, Technorati, and MuckRack to identify bloggers and reporters who are influential in our clients' verticals and who have an audience interested in our stories. We can visualize the size of their net and who is in it before making contact, making pitches both more relevant and less of a time suck.

Advanced LinkedIn Searches allow us to find influentials who are just a connection or two outside our network. We can do our homework on that reporter to verify the size of their audience, how much traffic their site gets, and the influence they appear over their readers.

Social media allows us to earn our introductions instead of fighting for them over spilled drinks and sticky tables.

Consumer Outreach

Through social media, we removed the need for the ever-present middle man. Brands (and their PR departments) can talk to consumers directly without always having to go through a reporter or a blog outlet. Through social media searches and proactive monitoring we can identify the users who would be interested in our product or service and reach out to them. And when we do, we do it through more personal connection.

We don't have to send a cold email they'll ignore or resent. We have person-to-person contact and can be a friend, instead of a salesman. [Of course, this only works if you act like a friend and not a salesman, but that's on you.] This two-way interaction between brand and customer has broken down that outside wall and changed the way consumers find products.

Use Pitchable Assets as Conversation Starters

As mentioned, the social nature of the web has changed how consumers research and discover brands. Instead of looking to the brand to sell us, we look to our friends and what the web tells us for recommendations and insight.

This is great for consumers who can now use videos, blogs, ebooks, contributed articles, infographics, published research, and animations to help in making buying decisions. But it's also great for PR professionals who now have a steady stream of pitchable assets to tell a story, grab someone's attention or validate the argument they're making.

If you work on the PR side, seek out these assets. Take a walk through your halls to find out what the marketing and content teams are doing and how you can work together.

If you're on the content and marketing side, get up and head into the PR lair. What are they pitching and how can you support that? You're both tasked with telling great stories. Make sure you're telling the same one by using a shared social editorial calendar so no one is surprised by next week's storylines.

More Measurement

In my earlier post on freeing analytics from your digital agency's closet, I spoke about how public relations professionals can tap into analytics to measure the success of media placements. Tying social into the PR equation can also offer additional analytics helping PR professionals understand overall conversation values, share of voice among competitors, how time of day impacts pitches and discussions, the placements that generate the most social conversation, and which reporters have the strongest influence over readers.

Even noting things like sudden rises in Twitter followers or Facebook fans can cause for a PR professional to take note. If 50 Twitter users have followed your brand's account in the past half hour, there's a good chance something happened. Whether it was a major media hit, an interview gone live, or a mention from a key influencer. But if you're not watching those social signals, you might miss it.

As the web puts an increasing influence on trust and authority, merging social media into PR initiatives becomes even more important, taking PR pros from a voice on the phone to a friend in their inbox. By sharing information, both PR and social are able to grow their networks and surpass client expectations.


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