Is Social Media the PR Amplifier?
Researching another topic, I landed on this great article in The Huffington Post by Cari Shane about the tremendous amplification factor social media offers to public relations programs. I loved the way she described social media as PR's BFFL -- Best Friend for Life. Her entire post is a great read, including the way she describes social media sites as the "middle school lunchroom of popularity" where people want to sit (or "follow" or "friend" or "like") at the cool table with the popular kids.
But I particularly appreciated her main point about the ultimate value of social media in advancing PR programs. It hinges on a great story about Shane placing a client in an important broadcast opportunity on a nightly news program, and the appearance coinciding with a huge accident that tied up commuting traffic causing many regular viewers of that news program to miss it. This happened 23 years ago. Today, something similar could occur and the lost opportunity impact would not be as great because of -- you guessed it -- social media.
Shane wrote, "In the age of social media, though agonizing for commuters, a tie-up on the highway doesn't mean a death sentence for a hard won media landing. Search engines, websites and blogs, social sites (YouTube, Facebook, LinkedIn, so on and so on), all allow a media moment to live for more than a lifetime. The 21st Century has given us what our PR forefathers and foremothers prayed for: media moments that can be resurrected as often as the whim strikes, to coincide with a company campaign, a marketing event, a Hallmark holiday, another PR moment, a "fill-in-the-blank here."
Those of us in the communications field recognize the increasing value of the reach of social media channels for our programs. Used correctly, social media can create a great story for a company through a blog post and then keep that story alive and build engagement by sharing it via channels like Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google+. This is why it is so important to make sure that there is a strong handshake between the storytellers and content creators and the owners of the social media channels. At a bare minimum, you want to make sure the original content creators are also packaging their material and their placements directly for these new channels. They best understand the strategic plan that is in place and the key messages the company wants to emphasize in all outreach.
I agree with Cari Shane that, used correctly, social media definitely can be PR's BFFL. What do you think?