5 ways social media has changed PR

social-media-poststamps In celebration of Social Media Day today, we decided to take a retrospective look at some of the ways social media has had an impact on the public relations industry. Not only has it changed the way we communicate with each other, but as it gains acceptance and usage among executives, it will play an increasingly-important role in our scope of work on a daily basis as PR professionals.

According to a report from eMarketer, a whopping 63.7 percent of internet users in the U.S. will use social networks in 2011, creating quite the desirable pool of prospective customers (and advocates, ideally). The firm also reported estimates that four in five U.S. businesses (with at least 100 employees) will take part in some sort of social media marketing this year, up from just 42 percent as recently as 2008. This number is expected to continue to rise, especially in light of related surveys that have revealed that as much as 63 percent of small businesses feel as though social networking makes a “significant” impact on their sales and revenue.

So what does this mean for us? Well, not only has social media infiltrated nearly every industry, but PR pros will be expected to ramp up their strategies in order to best engage audiences using the social web. And as much as the occasional rogue Facebook post or off-color Twitter rant from the public can keep us up at night, we’ll be seeking to embrace this form of communication more and more as a mechanism for not only sharing information with key audiences, but also listening to and connecting with them like never before.

Read on for our take on how social has already made its mark on PR:

  1. It’s a two-way street – Not that jumping on your soapbox and simply blasting a message via megaphone was ever effective, but now more so than ever, PR practitioners are connecting with audiences on a human level and inviting conversation. Receiving this invaluable feedback allows for real-time refinement of strategies and tactics, making brand connections with consumers and constituents that much deeper.
  2. 24/7 Engagement – Gone is the traditional 9-to-5 schedule because social media conversations never stop. Now that consumers can connect directly with a brand at any time, it’s up to us as PR pros to play host or hostess at the party, keeping the conversation going, encouraging a good back-and-forth and making new introductions to facilitate constant – and consistent – engagement.
  3. Increased demand for digital Pros – Forget about ‘keeping up with the Joneses’…if you’re in PR, you’re more concerned about keeping up with the latest Facebook feature or location-based app. The advent of social media has shown us that the most successful (and in-demand) PR people aren’t afraid to explore and embrace new technologies, continually adding all sorts of new technologies to their repertoire.
  4. Navigating the new landscape – As this article in Mashable points out, social media has blurred the line between paid, earned and owned media – not only altering their definitions, but also posing the PR challenge about how to integrate all three forms for the greatest success. By focusing on a balanced mix, PR professionals can help spread customer touch points across all functions within a company, and it’s this new approach that will have the greatest lasting impact.
  5. Evolving definition of success – Yes, some of us may have entered PR thinking it was the furthest field from anything math-related, but the fact remains that metrics have been – and continue to be – a PR pro’s best friend. And thanks to social media, we’re continually redefining the measure of success: Whether it’s friends on Facebook or daily of Tweets, we know that quality reigns over quantity, and that a long-term approach garners the most powerful return on investment when it comes to making connections.

What else would you add about how social media has changed the PR industry, and how do you expect it will further change our industry in the future?

The staff here at PerkettPR is also having some fun on Social Media Day by creating a series of videos explaining how Social Media has changed each of our lives and/or what our favorite social media tools are. We will be posting them to the PerkettPR Facebook page throughout the day, so be sure to check them out and leave us a comment!

Persuasive Picks for the week of 06/13/11

Tony Hsieh9 Questions: Tony Hsieh, Zappos
Get a quick injection of entrepreneurial motivation from this quick and inspirational interview with Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh on the American Express Open Forum.

Take a Twitter Audit
Chris Brogan provides 10 questions for you to answer that will help in determining how effective your efforts on Twitter really are.

Should all your staff be engaging in social media?
Letting your entire staff engage in the social space on behalf of your brand can be a tough idea to grasp, not to mention implement with success. Gain some insight on how to approach allowing this in your business via this eConsultancy blog guest post from FreshNetworksMatt Rhodes.

7 Ways to Gain Leads Through Social Media Networking
If used properly, social media has the ability to help you gain more leads, close more deals and build more business partnerships. The SEO Agency’s Tony B share some basic tips to help start increasing your business’s lead generation in the social space via this post on SocialMediaToday.com.

Social Media Videos: The Custom Creative Paradox
Poptent President Neil Perry encourages brands to continue publishing video to their social platforms, but first urges some careful and creative planning in the subject matter and usefulness of video-based content creation.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 06/06/11

PieBy the numbers: Social media’s slice of the marketing pie
Get up to speed on how companies with small, medium and large social marketing budgets are spending their money via these highlights of several recent Hubspot, Nielsen and Altimeter reports compiled by Dan Taylor – in this post on TheNextWeb.com.

4 Ways Video Can Help Your Social Media Marketing Success
This Clickz.com post from Liana Evans provides some practical advice for creating useful video for your business rather than shooting for the that virtually unobtainable “viral” brass ring.

How Southwest Airlines Is Connecting With Customers Via Social Media
Last week’s picks featured a look at how JetBlue has been finding success with their social media efforts. This week you can also take a peek at how they’re doing it over at Southwest – via this video post over on SocialMediaExaminer.com.

56% Of Content Shared Online Occurs Via Facebook
Not using Facebook as part of your social marketing strategy yet? You might want to reconsider it. Get a quick rundown of some pretty impressive stats when it comes to sharing content online – via this AllFacebook.com post from Jennifer Moire.

Facebook And Twitter: What If The Real World Was Like Social Media?
This week’s round of picks wraps up with this very funny video from the English National Opera that shows what things would be like if you applied your online life to the real world. Enjoy!

Photo Credit: Salim Virji

The Secret to Selling

I never thought of myself as a sales person but as a business owner, you are always selling. You sell your ideas, your products, your people. your culture, your leadership. I often get asked about the new business process and what our secret to success is. Of course there are a variety of elements that go into winning a prospect – relationships and chemistry have a great deal to do with it – but the one thing I’ve found that always works is simple – ask questions.

So many people go into a new business pitch thinking they’re supposed to have all the answers (and you should know your stuff, of course) and that asking questions is a bad thing. I find that asking questions accomplishes two things:

- It shows you are interested in the person/company you’re talking to

- It makes the prospect feel important and gets them talking

And when people talk about themselves or their company, and they feel they are being heard (hint: ask more questions based on what they say), they are likely to feel a stronger connection to you. They are likely to think you are brilliant. And they often walk away from the meeting feeling really, really good.

So go ahead, next time you’re trying to win a new client or prospect, ask questions. Let me know how it works out.

Persuasive Picks for the week of 05/30/11

JetBlueHow JetBlue’s Social Media Strategy Took Flight
Mashable‘s Todd Wasserman shares an interesting Q&A with JetBlue Marketing SVP Marty St. George that provides some insight into the company’s tremendous success with their social efforts.

5 top social media security threats
There’s plenty of information out there about the benefits of integrating social media into your overall marketing strategy and how to dip your toes in the water. But how much thought have you given to the risks? This Network World post from Chris Nerney covers five of the biggest social media security threats that enterprises could encounter.

SEO + Social Media + Blogging: When Will Big Business Catch Up?
Crispin Sheridan, Senior Director of Search Marketing at SAP in New York, shares highlights from Hubspot‘s recent “2011 State of Inbound Marketing Report” via this post on Clickz.com.

Behold the Awesome Power of Social Media
Bnet‘s Steve Tobak recaps the recent viral social media storm surrounding artist Stevie Koerner and retailer Urban Outfitters. The article shows how social media has the power to emotionally charge a situation and negatively impact a brand regardless if the company is legally in the right.

B2B Marketers and Social Media – The Catch 22 Situation
Sometimes it might feel like the success of our social content and SEO optimization efforts are tied to the whims of Google and their continual tweaking of their search algorithms. To some degree it may be, but this Technorati post from Amit Saxena provides some helpful direction to B2B marketers on how to cope with the fluctuations.