Are PR and Social Media Really Competitors?

social media vs pr

We’ll get right to the point in answering the question we’re asking in the title of this article.

The answer is: No. An emphatic No, at that.

A common misconception is that Public Relations teams, we’ll call them Team Traditionalists, are having to shoo away the new Social Media Marketing minds, let’s name them Team Radicals, at organizations around the world.

And while, sure, some dynamics between the two can turn into competition due to differing ideologies or just standard workplace disagreements, the most successful strategies include the two working hand in hand. Because in the year 2020, it’s really hard to do one without the other.

If you ask a Public Relations veteran who was around in the age before Social Media, giving them the opportunity to use all of the benefits of all things Social Media would almost sound too good to be true. When your job is to get a positive story in front of as many eyeballs as possible, the modern social channels are a dream.

Sure, any good PR firm or team will still write an excellent press release and seed the story with their valuable media contacts, just like they would’ve in decades past. But having the opportunity to have an infinite set of bloggers and influencers at one’s disposal to post about your story or event is a huge addition to the traditional public relations’ avenues. And obviously, social media is a big part of that.

Bringing PR and Social Together

So how do they work together? Let’s look at the tools any PR team, both big or small, have in the toolbox.

A public relations team can feel like the marketing team is stepping on toes if clear boundaries and responsibilities aren’t staked out before the project kicks off. Because let’s be real – there’s a lot of grey area between the two.

One of the best ways to clarify roles and collaborate better is to have a platform that outlines tasks and who will be doing what. PR needs to know which influencers the marketing team is reaching out to for organic interest and paid promotions and vice versa. Not doing this can make your brand look disorganized and like your left hand isn’t talking to your right hand.

Social networking enables instant sharing of information and, as the number of people using the number of bloggers and influencers increases, it offers you wider coverage of your news and ensures it reaches a larger target audience. You no longer have to wait for the weekly or monthly magazine to come out or that one shot at a newspaper article in the local paper.

Social media can be used to help you improve the public’s awareness of your company and your overall business image as blogging and online mentions help to spread the word about your company. When your company establishes its presence online, it will become more visible which can be used to promote your business. The more readers you attract, the higher your number of followers will be, and increasing your readership also increases the reach of your communications and how effective they are.

With social media’s accessibility and ease of use, anyone can share their point of view on any topic. The more expertise an individual or brand has on a topic or industry, the more authority they can build. Social networking sites allow you to ask questions and get answers quickly from any number of readers, with varying enthusiasm and experience. By using these communications channels, you can develop relationships with readers, which you can then use in PR activity and stakeholder targeting to ensure your posts are relevant and of interest so more likely to be read.

Being able to use social listening for real-time feedback about your brand is priceless. Communications teams can now pull on levers depending on which direction the story is taking. Many work behind the scenes to shape a brand’s image. When a trending topic arises, journalists often put their ear to social media to see what people are saying.

Public relations professionals will often join that online discussion in order to influence journalists to present a certain angle. PR pros may not always end up seeing the published story they’d like, but they can still use social media as a tool to keep their angle in the public eye.

Most people know how to use one or more social media tools so your company should aim to maximize its reader base by using your staff’s online connections to promote your business, giving you a bigger reader base. The more people who know about your company, and what it does, the more likely your business will succeed and attract loyal customers.

Social media is a natural fit for public relations and one of many tools businesses can use to protect and promote their reputations. When public relations and marketing teams combine their efforts on social media, brands often enjoy immediate positive results.

Regardless of professional public relations support, all businesses can use their social media accounts to help manage public opinion. Don’t wait for others to create stories about your brand. Create interest with some public relations influencing tactics. Create flattering and engaging stories about your brand, react to other large stories, and react publicly to negative comments. Think like a public relations expert and create content like a marketer on social media to boost your reputation and earn new followers.

If you’re wondering if you should spend some of your budget on a Public Relations strategy when you already have a social media team, there’s no definitive answer. It depends on your team’s structure. Can your marketing pros put their public relations hats on? Give ‘em a try. If not, having PR professionals craft a story for your marketing team to push out on social media can be nirvana. It isn’t a contest between the two.

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