The world of Public Relations has significantly changed due to the evolution of social media sites, which have, in turn, enhanced the relationship between companies and audiences. Once upon a time, not long ago in the year 2000, companies had to market themselves through the use of email advertising, product placements, mail rebates and the list goes on and on. Nowadays, a successful company has thousands of followers or friends, can average millions of hits a year and is able to attract the audience’s attention in less than one minute. Welcome to the new age of Public Relations.
Public relations began as a means to represent a company well and attract their targeted audience. It exists to maintain and enhance a company’s image, its main goals are to inform, educate and engages. However, Public Relations added a new facet into their system, Social Media. Due to the popularity of networking sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, companies are able to have direct contact with the audience to inform, educate and engage.
Social media is changing the face of PR; among these the areas highly affected are the press release, evolution of social platforms and building relationships with the public. The first public release created by Ivy Lee has changed significantly since 1906. We now can create public releases through video, podcast, or blog posting. During my internship for Sony Music I worked closely with Red (an artist and product development company), this is where I first learned what made up a public release and the importance of communicating in a concise and eloquent manner. My first public release was two pages long, it told the long and somewhat interesting story of a new upcoming artist, gave some statistics about how much their music was being played in the UK, oh and yeah and how they were making their US debut with a new CD. My public release was torn apart and edited by my advisor in order to be published, although the information was important there just wasn’t time to go into details. Fast forward a couple of years and now we can do just that, through the use of websites such as PitchEngine or MindTouch press releases have been transformed with multimedia and easy distribution through multiple channels. A great example: [i]
Lindsay Groepper Vice Preside of BLASTmedia shared how these distribution channels will continue to be key in the art of press release:
”When I first began my career in PR more than decade ago, we would e-mail or fax (gasp!) the full press release text to the press. What we see now is new methods of distributing the info, driven by social media. Rather than e-mailing a press release, PR people are sending journalists to custom landing pages created just for that specific announcement, contacting them via Twitter with a BUDurl link to the release, or even directing them to a YouTube video with a message from the CEO making the announcement.” [ii]
Not only has social media offered countless of ways to make the PR game better, but they have also enhanced the ways PR people are connecting with the consumer, journalist and friends. Long and in depth dialogues have been created through media sites that are out of the ordinary but helpful when building and keeping a brand. It has become easier to express your like and dislike over headphones or shoes, you name it. The more one participates in these conversations the more one will lead and influence.
“Gloria Gasaatura, a corporate communications consultant at Bluefront Capital, sums the situation up well, saying, ” Conversation is moving from word of mouth to online, and it’s an IR or PR’s duty to follow and go where the market is – online.”[iv]
As the years progress and technology advances, keeping up with popular online sites will be the only way to survive in the media driven world. I foresee more networking sites gaining momentum such as google+ that will re-invent social media sites to be more market oriented but still remain communication with the audience. I am excited to see how much more public relations will evolve alongside social media.
[i] Erica Swallow “The Future of Public Relations and Social Media” Mashable.August 26,2010. http://mashable.com/2010/08/16/pr-social-media-future/ (accessed July 18, 2011)
[ii] Erica Swallow “The Future of Public Relations and Social Media” Mashable.August 26,2010. http://mashable.com/2010/08/16/pr-social-media-future/ (accessed July 20, 2011)
[iii] Adam Singer “Why Use Social Media For Public Relations” Top Rank Online Marketing Blog. http://www.toprankblog.com/2009/11/social-media-pr/ (accessed July 23, 2011)
[iv] Sarah Skerik “Integrating Social Media into the Daily Practice of PR” PR Newswire. July 7, 2011.
http://blog.prnewswire.com/2011/07/07/integrating-social-media-into-the-daily-practice-of-pr/ (accessed July 23, 2011)