In “6 PR and social media predictions for 2013,” author Sandra Fathi says public relations will win the battle over which corporate discipline “owns” social media.
Digital and mobile technologies continue to transform the PR practice. The lines separating PR, marketing, branding, advertising, and customer service are blurry in social media. Do PR professionals have the right skills for the brave new social world? Absolutely—and here’s why.
1. We are experienced storytellers.
Social media requires us to create, curate, and share engaging and relevant stories. Brand journalism, otherwise known as content marketing, is not new to us. PR pros have always told stories using a range of communication styles and media. Many of us are former journalists. We can turn rocks into newsworthy features (true story). Social media is another way to tell and share our stories.
Just as we have practiced our written and digital communications, we need to develop our skills in social and visual content. Videographers, photographers and graphic designers are having their 15 minutes of fame right now. Businesses have become media companies and talented digital storytellers are essential for social success.
2. We are expert communicators.
While visual storytelling skills are important, writing skills are essential for social media. Conversations happen in words. Several colleagues have told me that writing was not the focus of their marketing degrees. As a journalism student, I lost 50 percent for every error in my news reports. My copy had to be clean. It only took one zero mark to make me a candidate for Grammatical Pedantry Syndrome.
PR pros are experienced writers, editors, and proofreaders. These skills transfer nicely to blog posts, tweets, status updates, and conversations.
3. We always aim to be relevant.
Social media is about being timely, interesting, and relevant. PR pros are experienced in creating content relevant to a specific audience. Whether we are pitching to a journalist or producing a newsletter for staff members, our audience determines the type of content we share.
Social media provides us with excellent tools to better understand our publics and communicate with our stakeholders. Become part of your social networks and get to know what your customers need and want from you.
4. We are experienced in relationship building.
Relationships have always been the focus of PR practice. Whether we are building relationships with journalists or stakeholders, we use communications to maintain good relations. Our professional contacts are often developed via phone and email— and now social media—without meeting face-to-face.
Social media is all about relationships. And we are experienced in managing relationships with people we have never met, accustomed to finding information fast, and highly skilled in customer service.
5. We know crisis communications.
PR pros are trained in issues management and crisis communications. These skills are vital in successfully managing a social media crisis. In my experience, the same principles apply. You need to get your company’s voice into the conversation as fast as possible, respond to any questions, correct misinformation, and be as helpful as possible. Our skills in relationship and reputation management are well-suited to handling viral activity.
6. We have always sought feedback.
Gaining feedback about our company’s profile and reputation was always a challenge. We would run surveys and focus groups to gain insights into stakeholder concerns and public perceptions. Not anymore.
Social media is like an instant focus group. We can ask questions, gain feedback, and have conversations in real-time, 24 hours a day, seven days a week. We can draw on social feedback to inform future communications, create positive organizational change, and improve our customer experience.
Do you think PR pros are the right fit for social media?
Summer Goodwin is the social media manager for Swinburne University of Technology in Melbourne, Australia. She has worked in journalism and public relations for 16 years. Check out her blog at summergoodwin.com or follow her on Twitter @summer_goodwin.