Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Some First Steps for PR Folk to Engage with Social Media

Let’s say you’re a high-level PR professional. A boss or an owner. And you’ve avoided dipping into these new-fangled social media things for some logical reason like the time required or because the way you’ve been doing things has been working fine.

Let me share some practical reasons you may want to give social media a try.

Blog monitoring – You need to know what people are saying about your company or client. By monitoring conversations on blogs, you can get a jumpstart on issues that could otherwise blow up. Dell reports that they get a three-week heads-up about issues before they hit the mainstream media. This is something you can do for free. And it’s a minimum. Later, you can learn to participate in the conversations to build the brand, enhance reputation and dialogue with influencers. A key audience to be monitoring is the reporters you are likely to work with. Many are bloggers themselves.

Social networks – Let’s focus on Facebook. Why on earth would you want to set up a Facebook page? Because reporters are there. They are communicating with their audiences and their sources there. I’ve even heard of one who will only pay attention to pitches he gets via Facebook, not e-mail or phone. Again, it’s a minimum. You don’t have to reveal your family secrets on your page. And you certainly should keep it professional. Later, you can use Facebook and other networks to connect with your company’s or client’s key constituencies who are there. Again, it’s free.

Social bookmarking – Services like Delicious are highly useful tools to support your media relations or community relations work. I’ve posted some how to’s on this subject before. See the last post for links. And yes, it’s free.

Twitter – Using Twitter can be powerful for public relations. The thing is, you will not understand its value until you sign up and start using it. I’m sorry, but it’s true. Twitter is not the only service of its kind, but it’s the most popular. It’s where many journalists are. It’s where portions of your audiences likely are. People will tell you it’s addictive. But that means they aren’t using it well for their business. You can. But it’s all theory until you set up your account. And guess what. It’s free.

If you try any of these tools, the worst that can happen is you won’t find them useful and you’ll stop using them.

Our chapter is holding a full-day professional development session specifically on this topic to demonstrate ways to get started or expand participation. I’m sure there will be more posts about it in the coming days.

So here’s the bottom line. Social media is not merely an additional vehicle for distributing or even exchanging information. It is not a trend. It is a manifestation of social change that we are in the midst of.


Anonymous said...

Truth is that "social" is what's truly sparking the controversy here. PR had the ability to hide behind so many tools in the past, and now finally, social media is forcing them to step out into the light. PR must now engage with people and in order to do so, must act like “people” not just a faceless broadcasting machine.

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Mac @ Motorcycle Fairings said...

I personally don't thing a persona has to sign in in every single social media that is release since we could also live without them.

Anonymous said...

Having high PR Social Bookmarking sites linked to your site will improve your site's PR. With a higher PR, you can link to your new/existing sites and improve their ranking too! You can even monetize on it by selling links from your site!