Social Media and Public Relations: “connecting the dots”
By Jill Riddiford, B2B Marketing Consultant at Carpe Diem Consulting.
We often hear the question: what is the difference between social media and PR?
Social media is the new kid on the block compared to public relations, but both are part of the same brush in your marketing palette.
Both social media and PR - when done effectively - are about people saying good things about your business or your products and services, and spreading the word to other people.
Both PR and social can also build your brand and reputation over time. However, social media allows you to amplify your reach in ways that marketing via the traditional media can’t do.
Public Relations specialists typically work with editors / journalists rather than your actual target market. Social media specialists, on the other hand, are the ones who (should) know the insides of your business and be out there in your prospect base talking to real people.
A good social media consultant will be a natural networker and have their eye on what’s happening in your industry and community - they are not there to sell your product or service per se. They also build relations with less traditional industry influencers such as bloggers who can have a significant impact on your ability to generate awareness.
Also, with social, while you may ‘own’ the messages, you have limited control over how responses to your messaging will be reposted or circulated. On the other hand, traditional ‘earned’ PR allows some degree of control - in the context of the media relationships you have fostered. PR can also provide valuable third-party endorsement and credibility.
Here’s an outline of some more similarities and differences:
- Relationship building is key to both:
PR – you may only need a few key media targets, but these need to be cultivated carefully
Social – relationship is with many and allows you to have a two-way conversation with your actual customers/prospects
- You need to have something to say:
PR – usually have a ‘hook’ or particular event, i.e. something that is newsworthy that you can shout about for a short period of time
Social –You need constant ‘hooks’ and messages to take to your community on regular basis in order to maintain engagement and a cohesive image over time
- Understand that your audience is different:
PR – your job is to pitch your story to the writer for your target media outlet, so you need to ask what will interest their readers?
Social – you are speaking directly to your customer/prospect so need to know their world inside out. You will need to repurpose content – e.g. don’t post in a press release format – use words that speak to them in their language
- Everyone is time poor:
PR - journalists like business owners are time poor these days, media fragmentation has disrupted the industry – which means your approach must be sharply honed
Social - need to take into account where your potential customers are on their buyer journey and package up your content/messages to get their attention at each stage
- It’s a two-way street:
PR- it is possible for marketers to coexist happily with the media - journalists value reliable contributors and having experts on hand they can call on
Social – use the 80/20 rule as a guide to your ratio of providing content around your customers’ issues vs directly promoting your business or services
B2B companies with an active social presence have a greater chance of attracting the broader media, as industry influencers such as journalists increasingly rely on content such as blogs to find story ideas.
Researching and nurturing the best media contacts for your business can be time consuming, so having a specialist PR consultant can be valuable. And it is always a good idea to have a PR on hand to help manage any adverse issues that may arise around your business. Of course any PR expert or social media specialist you appoint should have a thorough knowledge of your company.
You don’t have to be a big business to benefit from using PR as well as social – so don’t miss opportunities to make a mark in your niche – think about how particular insights from your customers could gain traction in the wider media arena.
If you would like to learn how to implement a successful PR & Social Media strategy, get in touch to register for a 1 hour consultation with one of our experts (limited number available per month).