Social Media: A Key PR Tool

by Hannah Stuart, Copywriter - 07/31/17


Social media has changed how PR professionals work. Now it’s time to make it work for you.

The main goal of public relations (PR) is to get your latest information in front of an audience. Whether this audience is comprised of members of the press, potential patients, or any other group, you’re always conveying a message that you have the solution to consumers’ problems. Social media lets you put that news directly in front of your reader, and many platforms provide tools to help you do it more easily and effectively.

Facebook Targeting for PR

Chances are you’re already using targeted ads on Facebook (and if you’re not, you should try it). But did you know you can specifically use the targeting feature as a PR tool?

More than 1 billion people use Facebook every day, and that number likely includes people you would want to see your news, such as employees of media companies. Rather than targeting your posts by demographics such as age, location, or interest, you can target employers.

Consider which media companies—or companies within your industry—may be interested in your work. Then next time you create an ad, use the workplace targeting feature to put your content directly into the newsfeed of employees of those companies.

Twitter and PR

“Twitter's fundamentally altered how journalism works in an irreversible way,” Greg Galant, CEO of Muckrack, told Forbes in February. “Journalists demand a platform to send and receive information in real time, and the PR industry needs to be there for the party."

Twitter isn’t perfect, and it won’t solve all your problems. However, in our instant-gratification world, Twitter is an inexpensive and responsive tool for PR—as long as you’ve built up a good audience. Building your social media audience requires a time investment, and you can’t do it with continual hard-sell marketing. You have to nurture relationships with your followers. This is why it’s important to have a cross-functional social media team that understands the needs of your PR team.

Twitter can be a useful tool for PR strategy when done well, particularly as most people polled by Pew Research Center noted they use Twitter to keep up with the news. If you’ve got an announcement or bit of information you need in front of people quickly, chances are Twitter will take notice. It also gives you the opportunity to bypass a reporter’s full inbox—tweet your pitch at them instead.

Avoid PR Pitfalls on Social Media

Whether you’re a complete newbie or the most seasoned social media professional, you’re going to occasionally make mistakes. Avoid some of these more common ones.  

    • Only talking about yourself—Rather than constant hard-sell marketing, use your social media accounts to share content that is valuable to your followers. Your marketing posts or tweets should act as “commercial breaks” between these posts, and shouldn’t be unceremoniously shoved in your followers’ faces. That’s how you lose followers and page likes.
    • Hashtag fail—Always do your research. Never use a hashtag without researching what it means and who’s using it. For comparatively little time investment, you’ll avoid an embarrassing social media mistake you’d otherwise have to apologize for later.
    • Posting before you think—A variety of mishaps fall under this category. It can include idioms that may come across poorly in light of current events—for example, British supermarket Tesco saying “hit the hay” in an automated post in January 2013 while refuting allegations that its burgers contained horse meat. As a rule, monitor any automated posts, particularly while in a period of crisis management (more advice Tesco could’ve used). Refrain from getting into long, drawn-out arguments with followers, as this can often turn into doubling down and will make a situation worse.
    • Co-opting major events—Engage with major events carefully, as awkward segues to making the story about you will likely just earn you negative attention. A good rule of thumb: if it’s relevant to your brand, speak up, but do so with care. Otherwise, steer clear, especially if it’s a controversial topic or a tragedy of any kind.

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Topics: Digital Marketing, Paid Media & Advertising

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