Fellow PR pros: Sure, you’ve got a Twitter account, a Facebook page and now a G+ account. You’re following key influencers and engaging with relevant media. But with time and attention at a premium these days, unless you’re using social media strategically, being active on such networks can sometimes do more harm than good. Below are five tips for better managing this increasingly-important facet of PR:
- Get organized. Yes, we’ve got to stay on top of the action, but it’s time-consuming to constantly troll the Internet in search of relevant news for Facebook and Twitter feeds. Instead, bring the news to you with an aggregation service such as Netvibes, which offers a personalized, real-time dashboard that syncs with multiple devices for easy access anytime, anywhere.
- Get acquainted. You wouldn’t make it a habit to walk up to strangers asking for favors (or maybe you do, but that’s an entirely different blog post…), and the same goes for journalists. Develop a rapport with reporters before you need anything from them – read their articles (c’mon, people, this should be a given), follow people with similar hobbies, start conversations, etc. – and there’s a better chance they’ll be open to reading that next pitch.
- Get creative. More publications are using freelancers, although many of them aren’t listed in media databases, so it can be difficult to track down these elusive writers. But thanks to the popularity of personal branding, there’s a good chance you can do a quick Google search and find out which social networks they’re using, along with other helpful information on how to best contact and pitch them.
- Get inquisitive. As much as PR is known for being a communications-heavy profession, sometimes it can feel like a one-sided pursuit (does anyone answer the phone anymore?). But by developing – and nurturing – a network of trusted colleagues in your social sphere, you’ve always got a trusted resource with which to crowdsource research, pose questions and get a flood of feedback. Veterans are often more than happy to share wisdom, knowledge, and even war stories, with those who will listen.
- Get real. Finally, as much as we operate almost entirely online nowadays, at our very core, humans are social creatures – and we crave face-to-face interaction. Social media allows us to expand our reach like never before, but there’s still nothing like a firm handshake and a genuine smile - be it with colleagues, mentors or members of the media. Leverage networks initially to expand your circle, but don’t forget to carry over those new connections into real-world interactions (try meeting up at industry events, local meet-ups, etc.), which can translate into offline working relationships that are both rewarding and enduring.
What are other ways that you’ve seen PR pros effectively utilize social media? Feel free to share examples and suggestions in the comments below.