Online Public Relations: Social Media is a PR Tool, Not a PR Category

by | Jul 11, 2012 | Digital, Public Relations

So perhaps you are the proverbial social media “social butterfly.” Yet of the close to 700 Facebook friends you connect with regularly, you really only “know” a percentage of those. When it comes down to those you have actually met in person or have a close personal relationship with, the number decreases even more. So herein lies the significant concern with businesses and online public relations.  Social media is merely a tool to build and nurture “real” or existing relationships, not quite as much to generate new ones.

In our personal lives, to say that Facebook “friends” are our actual friends would be misleading in some ways. Sure, some of them are, but in a similar way, “Follows” or “Likes” in the business world does not always translate into sales, leads, press coverage, or audience relationships. Some organizations make the mistake of considering social media to be the be-all, end-all of their public relations campaigns. Instead of focusing on what public relations really is (building close relationships with clients and audiences), they tend to focus much more on just getting noticed in the digital realm. In an attempt to capitalize on inbound marketing strategies for their PR campaigns, they actually tend to follow outbound marketing elements, which can be distracting. In effect, these organizations should remember that even though online PR is a tool for their Public Relations campaign, traditional PR rules still apply.

Consider These Tips for Efficient Use of Online Public Relations:

Use Social Media as a Social Medium

Some tools of the PR trade would include press releases, articles, success stories, radio or television media, or of course, social media. When using social media, remember that you can only use it to nurture the audience that you already have. This is not your PR campaign. This is your medium to set up your PR campaign. Social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, or even Email should be used to assemble your audience and invite them to your latest convention, business conference, or meeting. These are your actual PR campaigns.

Use Online PR Strategies to Generate Attention

When it comes down to it, the main purpose of online public relations is to generate attention and give something back to the audience which they might not have received otherwise. That means your online articles, blogs, or press releases can be distributed to specific audiences exclusively or before they are mass produced for the vast public. This would allow your organization to gain the respect, appreciation, and long-term reliability from your target audience.

Use Online PR to Supply Your Audience

At the end of the day, everything you do with Public Relations, whether it is online or not, should be used to lend a hand to your audience. When you devise your online PR strategy always ask: How can I help my audience, how will my information be useful, and how can I help them reach their goals. When you help them do these things and reach their own goals, then your goals are ultimately met in the end. Your goals are their goals.

Relationships Are Built On Trust and Communication

There is not a single type of relationship that will last if there is a lack of communication. When there is a lack of communication, then a lack of trust occurs because of it. When they respond to you, you must reply candidly and helpfully which will assist them and direct them to meet their needs.  But remember their best interests are your best interests. Tell them what they need to know and not just what they want. Sometimes it is tough love. But a long term relationship of honesty and trust will be built in return.

The ineffective or inappropriate use of social media is something we refer to as being socially awkward. If you’d like more information that can help your organization stay out of this category then download our Free Guide Social Media 101 today!