Secrets of a successful local PR Facebook group

Self-promotion is death for a Facebook group. From the start, announce that posts of that type won’t be allowed, and stick to your rule.

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What makes this group so successful? Because of the singular focus on being a resource: for journalists looking for sources, for each other by sharing contact information for news organizations, for sharing success stories and thoughtful discussions about news topics and trends. The group thrived because it is very well moderated. Some members were blatantly self-promoting their services, companies or themselves—we made it clear that it was not appropriate within the framework of the group. Ultimately, some were removed. I launched the group on the first day the groups feature went live on Facebook as an experiment; throughout my 10-year PR career in Phoenix, I would frequently host informal gatherings of reporters and producers, usually for drinks and I invite one or two fellow PR people to join us at those informal gatherings (those who I felt were competent and deserved an invite because they know how to work with journalists). I thought the Facebook group could be an online version of those media gatherings I had been hosting for years. I started by inviting a few of my reporter friends and fellow PR folks that I trusted; my idea was to connect local PR folks with reporters, foster thoughtful conversations about our industry and news, and be a resource for journalists looking for sources, info or story ideas. The thought of mixing PR people with reporters in a Facebook group shocked some people at first—and one PR firm in Phoenix blatantly criticized me for doing so, saying something along the lines of “one post in that group could wind up getting you quoted in a story that you don’t want to be in.” My answer was “well then, don’t post something stupid.”

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