• Why PR professionals are best placed to advise organisations on social media

    Why PR professionals are best placed to advise organisations on social media

    It's about two-way communication – PR at its best has always been about listening and not just transmitting; about a relationship between an organisation and its publics (be they consumers, investors, politicians, employees or other publics); about engaging with them. So too social media. As the Public Relations Society of America said in 2011: “Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations (sic) and their publics”.

    It's about relationships “ PR professionals are expert at managing relationships offline for clients and organisations. Those relationship management skills are invaluable online

    It's about reputation “ social media is the (relatively) new front line in reputation management (and it can advance towards you at frightening speed). As the UK's Chartered Institute of PR says: œPublic relations is about reputation – the result of what you do, what you say and what others say about you. Public relations is the discipline which looks after reputation, with the aim of earning understanding and support and influencing opinion and behaviour. It is the planned and sustained effort to establish and maintain goodwill and mutual understanding between an organisation and its publics.

    It's about content “ using social media effectively isn't about technology, it's about communicating. It's about producing quality, engaging content. PR professionals are expert content producers; from press releases to features, corporate publications, and increasingly blogs and social media. This content has always had to be engaging (whether to journalists or others) and these skills are invaluable in the world of social media

    It's about creativity “ all that experience of brainstorming to come up with creative campaigns, of executing creative photographs to lure picture editors and to come up with creative events to tempt consumers, media and stakeholders can be put to incredibly effective use in the social media world, where a creative video, image, post or tweet can go viral with huge impact

    It's about making things ˜engagement-worthy “ PR professionals have spent their careers making press releases and ideas ˜news-worthy'. The same skills and mind-set can make posts, tweets and updates ˜Like-worthy', ˜Retweet-worthy' and ˜Share-worthy'

    It's about ˜the media' “ news breaks online, reporters are socialising online, social media is busy when the mainstream media is busy. The media and social media are becoming inextricably linked, and that process will continue. Professionals who understand both will be well placed to advise organisations

    It's about images “ Social media is becoming more and more a ˜visual' experience. PR professionals are well-used to producing creative images to attract the interest of newspaper picture editors. Producing images that will engage on social media (such as Facebook and Pinterest) should be second-nature.

    It's about influencers “ PR at its best identifies and engages people who will influence key target audiences. It secures their understanding and support, and this facilitates effective communication that supports strategic objectives. Social media, particularly Twitter is a highly effective means of communicating if you can identify and engage those who are influential about your area of interest

    It's about thought leadership “ thought-leaders are highly popular on social media. They attract followers on Twitter. LinkedIn has set up a special function to allow users to follow thought-leaders. PR professionals have been making thought-leaders out of their clients for years; advising them and helping them produce content and distributing it to target audiences.