Public Relations Friends Social Media – An introduction to the digital aspect of public relations
Since the creation of the World Wide Web in the early 1980’s, digital technology has changed the way people communicate.
Social media, a staple in the digital revolution, has made it easier than ever to communicate. Since communication is a key aspect of public relations, this blog is meant to bring clarity to the use of social media as a public relations tool.
Due to the digital revolution’s continued growth, many PR professionals were concerned that the definition of public relations was not appropriate for the 21st century. For many years, public relations had been used as a one way communication tool. However, the internet and its many facets now gives public relations the ability to become a two-way conversation tool with mass audiences
Stuart Elliot, a reporter for the New York Times, stated that the Public Relations Society of America took on the job of redefining the definition of public relations last November. PRSA created the website, prdefinition.prsa.org, which allowed the public to submit suggestions for the new definition. On March 2, 2012, the winning definition was released after tallying 1,447 votes. The following is the new definition of PR:
“Public relations is a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.”
The digital revolution and social media has not only forced public relations to change its definition. According to author Dave Folkens, social media has changed public relations in three other ways. Folkens states that social media has made it easier for public relations professionals to interact and gain feedback from consumers. The ability to communicate instantaneously with a company makes consumers feel a deeper bond with a company.
Folkens also believes that social media has made it easier for PR professionals to connect with journalist through the use of blogs, Facebook and Twitter. Finally, Folkens feels the most challenging change is the fact that consumers expect one-on-one interactions. If consumers are not attended to, they can cause a crisis to arise by writing a complaint on the company’s Facebook page or Blog.
Though social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkdIn should be viewed as an important and powerful tool for PR professionals, many PR experts believe niche networks will take the lead in the future.
“The most important platforms for PR pros in the future will be the ones most targeted for their clients,” said Cara Stewart, founder and principal at Remarx Media, in an article on mashable.com. “Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook are ‘fun;’ getting nitty-gritty into community sites that are industry-specific is less ‘fun,’ because PR pros have to really understand clients’ technologies, business models, services and more. Social media is not a one-size-fits-all solution.”
Social media does have the ability to create stronger relationships and save companies money and time when pitching and creating new campaigns. However, PR professionals must remember social media will only work if it is used correctly. To help PR professionals properly use social media, PRSA offers resources on its website to help clarify how the digital revolution affects public relations. For example, Writer Elizabeth Sosnow explains how to prevent social media mishaps in the June issue of Public Relations Tactics.