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2 min read

PR only? No such thing!

Recently, I came across a post entitled, “10 things clients get wrong about the media.”  Admittedly, the author—a publicist (aka a PR person)—was being a bit harsh to make his point in the article, but tone aside, I could relate to a couple of the items on his list.

It was #10, however, that stopped me in my tracks: “I don’t care what your branding strategist or social media team is doing.” Huh? How could a PR person not care about branding strategy or social media?

Two Owls in a Moon

PR-only no longer exists

Generating media coverage for a client is all fine and good. But it can’t be done in a vacuum—at least not effectively. In my last post, I wrote about how the different media types, which include earned media (PR and social media) and owned media (website, blog), need to work together and support one another. The line between PR and social media is becoming increasingly blurred.

Our agency works with clients to help them integrate the various marketing disciplines (think advertising, social media, online presence, PR, customer service, etc.) to maximize resources and make sure everyone is working toward the same end goal. That’s called coordination. If everyone is running in separate directions doing their own thing—whether it be Facebook posts and Tweets, talk show appearances or advertising—chances are your marketing will be far less effective than it could be.

PR and social media are like PB&J

Let’s explore the PR and social media connection further. While as a PR manager I don’t do the hands-on social media work, the social media and PR teams work together.

The PR team works with social media to:

  • Help build targeted media lists
  • Monitor client issues and industry trends
  • Respond to journalists’ queries for resources or stories
  • Pitch media outlets or reporters

We also use social media (like LinkedIn, Facebook, Twitter, Google+) for the more typical reason: to share any client-related PR, industry news and other information of interest to our client’s followers. (You don't see engage with client customers on this list because on our joint agency-client social media teams it's our clients who engage directly with their customers.)

Social media is an indispensable PR tool

When starting with a new client, social media is often among the first places we look to start building our media lists. By searching hashtags related to our clients’ issues, we can quickly find the freelancers and other journalists who are covering their issues. And we can quickly see the types of recent articles they have written.

As the social media team builds these lists and we monitor the streams, we are able to implement our PR tactics more effectively. We become more familiar with the stories these reporters write and craft our client pitches to reflect that understanding.

Likewise, if I come across an article in my daily reading that covers a client issue, I’ll send the article to our social media team so that we can start following that journalist’s feed. It’s this flow of information back and forth between the PR and social media teams that allows us to be more effective for a client.

Yes, there are media databases that can help build lists and identify journalists by beat (and we use one, too). But the social media channels usually know about journalist changes way before the media databases know.

Virtually every media outlet is active in social media today. So if your client is appearing on talk shows or is featured in newspapers or magazines, you’ll want your social media team to know so you can leverage those appearances or news hits.

The bottom line: Social media has become an integral tool for doing PR effectively. If you have different teams handling your social media and PR activities, you want to make sure they’re talking to each other (often). Public relations, like your advertising, your customer service, everything you’re doing, should work in concert to support your company’s brand.

How does your PR team use social media to support its efforts?


photo by Olga Kuba via flickr

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