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What Does Social Media Mean For The Future Of Public Relations?

How much control does your PR company really have on your social media comments and putting fires out?

Jeff Broth

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For all companies, maintaining a positive public image is one of the keys to their success. This is where social media comes into play. By now, it has infiltrated nearly every business and industry – it works and it’s easily accessible. So, what does this mean for the future of public relations?

1. More Interactions with the Audience

Social media allows consumers to constantly engage with public relations no matter what time of day it is. Social media never stops and neither do the consumers.

It allows for greater flexibility for consumers to lodge complaints or feedback to the company any time they want. This allows for faster reaction times and quicker improvements for the company itself.

But it’s up to the PR practitioners to decide how often they would like to engage. In order to maintain a positive public image, it is crucial for public relations to have a thought-out plan to deal with any crisis or problems that may pop up.

Related: How Strong Is Your Company’s Social Media Game?

The different modes of communication also come into play – PR needs to understand the different types of platforms such as blogs, Twitter, and Facebook in order be able to effectively communicate with as large of an audience as possible.

Sam Ovens is a great example of someone who is an expert when it comes to attracting an enormous client-base. He is a business consultant who helps others achieve their dream of becoming successful at starting their own consulting business. Sam Ovens’ Twitter account is the perfect example.

His Twitter pages features various messages from his clients who have experienced great success from him. In addition, he includes various articles and videos (some of which are his own original content) that support his perspectives on business.

2. Easy-Access Information

easy-access-to-digital-information

With everyone out in the open on the internet, readily accessible, it’s so easy for PR to obtain a ton of information on target markets, customer service, and media they want to pitch. All of this information can be collected and analysed to create new opportunities for consumers that wouldn’t have been thought of before.

In addition, social sharing in an attempt to promote PR and brand image is so much easier and can have a huge impact on consumers if the right major media outlets decide to promote that company.

Not only is information easily accessible to PR, it is also accessible to reviewers all across social media. And they become a primary source to promoting and providing potential media coverage on certain brands or companies.

Related: Make Sense Of Social Media In 60 Minutes

3. Rise of Journalists

Social media also allows citizens all across the internet to become journalists of their own. As internet journalists, these bloggers can have a huge impact in distribution through social channels.

Currently, most younger Americans cite the internet as a primary news source, and this is due to the fact that tablets and mobile devices are the main devices used for accessing social media.

This means that it is crucial for PR to have a vast knowledge about key bloggers on the web and create strong connections with them.

Related: Got A Social Media Following? You Can Turn It Into A Business. Really.

Social media means better coverage for PR and their companies but it also means learning the lingo and the rules that social media plays by. Social media also allows users to directly and publicly make their grievances known without filters.

This is why it’s important for entrepreneurs to not only understand the new rules, but to also focus on giving good service to their clients, since damage control is slowly but surely becoming obsolete.

Jeff Broth, a business writer and advisor. Consulted for SMB owners and entrepreneurs for 7 years now. Mainly covering finance, stocks and emerging fintech trends.

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PR & Publicity

How To Use Mistaken Inquiries To Drive Awareness Of Your Business

Whether this is a walk-in, telephonic or e-mail client, be sure not to regret your interaction with them, have a plan in place, how you will deal with such situation.

Neli Moqabolane

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At times, we receive inquiries or communication from people seeking products/services that aren’t in our line of work. It can also be someone who has mistaken you for a certain company that you’re not. It’s easy to dismiss such inquiries, by simply saying you’re unable to assist the person.

Don’t miss an opportunity to publicise your company, treat the enquirer as one of your clients. Take a proactive approach, use this as an opportunity to inform them about your company and the services/products that you offer.

In doing this you are building a reputation for your brand, and introducing your corporation to someone who might have never known about. It might happen in future, that the said person needs your products/services when they remember how you professionally assisted them, then they will come to you.

Another possibility is that at that moment they are connected to someone who needs your services and they don’t know anyone in your field. Should you play your cards correctly, you might gain a client for the future or the present.

Whether this is a walk-in, telephonic or e-mail client, be sure not to regret your interaction with them, have a plan in place, how you will deal with such situation.

1Respond professionally

Your response should be structured in a manner that will make the enquirer feel respected and not embarrassed about the mistake they’ve made. When responding to emails ensure that you do so quickly. Sympathise that you cannot assist them because your company only specialises in different services/products. State clearly what is it that you provide and how you do it. 

Related: A Guide to Optimising Your Business’ Social Media Usage

2Show how you solve problems

In the process of explaining your services/products, demonstrate how you can solve people’s problems or meet their needs. This means that you describe your products/services in detail. However, your description should be a comprehensive summary, consider that the enquirer has a life to live.

3Make your brand visible

brand-recognition-marketing

When responding to emails, remember to include your logo, motto and other things that your brand is identified by. Your offices should be designed keeping this in mind when someone walks in, they should immediately see your identity.

4Offer samples 

If you have samples to give, kindly offer them to the enquirer. Should you have demonstrations/presentations that you do, politely inform the enquirer about them. Let them know how they can get hold of this.

Related: How To Impress The Press

5Provide them with an opportunity to come back to you

You can share your business card with someone you meet, this should have all your contact detail, i.e. telephone, fax, e-mail and social media details. In an email, these should be nicely positioned at the end of your email, as part of your final greeting.

6Refer them to a relevant business

Should you know of any company that offers the services/products they need, refer them to it without hesitation. If possible, provide them with contact details and a contact person to assist them.

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PR & Publicity

How You Can Avoid The ‘Facebook Effect’

Don’t let perceived realities – of your business or those of your competitors – derail your strategies.

Allon Raiz

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As a young entrepreneur, I received my first bit of publicity from a daily in Durban. It was massively exciting and stroked my ego tremendously because after all, what I had achieved was considered newsworthy enough to be published in a newspaper.

There was a big photo of me on page four, with my interview where I talked about the success of a promotion I had conceived and implemented. My friends saw the article and called to congratulate me, and in my distant social circles people discussed my story and congratulated me too.

Perception versus reality

What they didn’t know was that my business was barely breaking even at the time. The perception of my success was very different to my reality. I proudly showed the article to my mentor (naively expecting a pat on the back) and instead he asked: “Do you believe what they say?” “What do you mean?” I said. “Do you believe all the things the journalist has written about you in the article?” he asked again.

I didn’t answer him because I knew deep down that they weren’t all true. I wasn’t the hugely successful businessman that I was portrayed as in the article.

“If you believe all the good things the press write about you, you’ll also believe all the bad things they say. Be grateful for the press, but do not let it govern your emotions.”

Beware curated reality

In today’s era of social media, fake news, memes, and overly filtered photos, it’s very easy to become envious of the perceived lives that others showcase.

Much like the envy we experience when scrolling through our friends’ posts of their expensive destination holidays — where they can be seen showing off their tanned, ripped bodies while sipping expensive champagne — the same type of envy occurs between business owners when they scroll through competitor’s company timelines and witness their competitors winning great awards, attending glitzy launches and receiving kudos from the press.

In my experience, the perception created by these often-boastful social media posts is seldom close to reality. Like the article on my Durban business, what my friends perceived was nowhere near my financial reality.

Be cognisant and sceptical of this curated reality, so that you as a business do not react in one of two ways to a competitor’s posts:

  • Don’t try to emulate their strategy based on what seems to be working
  • Don’t end up feeling depressed based on your jealousy of this curated reality.

Instead, your reaction to witnessing these posts should be to:

  1. Frame your competitors’ posts simply as marketing. They have carefully curated these posts to only show followers the great things about their businesses, products and services. The ‘make-up’ hides the imperfections.
  2. Use your emotions to make a change. Use the energy their posts ignite inside of you — not the content they project — and pump that energy into YOUR strategy to reinforce it.
  3. Drive your differentiator harder. Make sure your business stands out as being unique and a thought leader in its industry and not one attempting to copy others. Your differentiator should not be influenced by what you are seeing either positively or negatively.

Always remember, your competitors’ posts represent selective truth-telling because they curate what they want you to see online.

They will never post when times are tough and they are losing clients and not making a profit at the end of the month. Don’t believe everything you see, and most importantly, don’t let these ‘perceived realities’ affect you or your business strategy in any way.

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6 Simple Ways To Build Brand Credibility On A Tight Budget

How to build media credibility for your business in 2017.

Mongezi Mtati

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Tight Budget
  • Old school: Unlimited marketing budgets.
  • New School: Smart and cost-effective ways to get noticed — despite an over-crowded market.

It’s no secret that when there is an economic downturn, advertising and marketing budgets — even in big businesses — take a knock. Most SMEs have much smaller advertising and marketing budgets, and we need to constantly find creative ways to build trust and credibility with potential clients, as well as increase our share of voice in our industries.

One way to do this is to build credibility with the media and generate exposure for the business to increase visibility, which in turn can translate into sales.

Where would you start?

1Follow and listen

Seeing your company’s name grace the glossy pages of your favourite magazine or your spokesperson appearing on your favourite business show can be very rewarding and lead to more opportunities.

The reality is that media outlets, editors, journalists and producers are bombarded with more stories than they can work on and most of those stories are irrelevant.

The key to increasing the likelihood of your business story being featured starts with understanding your chosen media. This includes drilling down to a specific journalist and the editor on whose platform you would like get coverage.

Do your homework, find out who their audience is, what sort of features they publish, and who they view as thought leaders. Start by investigating what the chosen platform is likely to focus on to ascertain whether or not what you have to share will be relevant and appealing to it.

Related: 7 Creative Strategies For Marketing Your Start-up On A Tight Budget

Just as you researched your market before you tried to sell to it, learn who their target market is.

Editors and producers balance audience interests around their platforms, which is critical to their growth, and they also need to remain relevant in a crowded marketplace to increase advertising in an era of dwindling advertising spend. Aside from being featured by the media, listening to existing conversations and following target platforms is significant if you and your business story are to be relevant.

2Share industry changes and stories

The advantage of living in this era of information and content overload is that information and data are everywhere. But, most of it is not well organised. The ability to organise information in ways that make for interesting and insightful reading can turn media attention towards your business.

How often have you read a story and found comments from people who are industry experts? Sharing knowledge and becoming the go-to industry voice builds credibility and positions your business as a team of experts, and most people would rather buy from companies that are specialists in their field.

3Share your progress

business-progress

Part of the challenge of starting and building credibility with the media is the lack of ‘story’ behind the business and the new idea. A silver lining that emerges from the sad finding that nine out of ten start-ups fail is that when small businesses make progress, it is worth celebrating.

This may not always be a cover story or sought after article, but making contact with key media about progress in a year or two sometimes leads to mentions and these can attract more coverage.

4Review a relevant event

Industry and business events tend to have interesting nuggets of information that sometimes go unnoticed and if you attend these events, there could be interest in a post-event write-up. One of the stories that we shared which garnered solid traction was about various speaker’s insights from an overseas conference that we attended.

The African continent is becoming more interested in local voices, in developing what the continent has to offer as solutions. Some of these solutions emerge at events that are not attended by media, which can give you the opportunity to write a publishable opinion piece.

Related: How To Budget Better: A Guide To Smarter Spending

5Share an industry success story

It’s tempting to write a press release that focuses on your business and hope that the spotlight lands on you. It’s like putting up your selfie in a public domain, but with the potential to be seen on TV or in print. Avoid at all costs.

Similar to sharing your progress, talking about an industry colleague — without overly marketing them or the competition — can make you the source of relevant industry information. Most industry commentators whose insights are sought after, are perceived to have relevant industry information and this also leads to more coverage linked to your business. Position yourself as the insiders with insights to share.

6Make it newsworthy

For your story to attract attention, it should interest the editor or the journalist and must be newsworthy. Unless you are someone important, and can offer an audience a new perspective, a personal story without a newsworthy angle increases the probability of your email address being redirected to the spam folder.

The notion of what makes news varies from one title to the next, from one show to another and listening to what is important in a handful of chosen platforms increases the chances of becoming a story that is worth telling.

As you build your credibility in the marketplace, foster relationships that will be valuable over time and build them by offering useful content that separates you from industry peers. After all the people with whom your business interacts and builds value can be its greatest asset.

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