One of the things that is interesting to see develop is how public relations professionals are evaluating what is being said, discussed, and referenced on social media. We are of course interested to see how many people come to our web sites (page hits), our online traffic, and how many times our web site or social media profiles are referenced. Public relations professionals who are active in working with social media are right now discussing the different ways to measure these trends and look at how they are impacting a public relations campaign, crisis communication plan, and event planning to just to name a few.
But after looking all of this – is social media really a new element to what public relations professionals actually do? We have always been active in communicating and listening to discussions about our client and among our stakeholder – so what is different? I would argue that social media has definitely changed the public relations profession dramatically by having the power and control of the communication message to the receiver (ex. stakeholders). Businesses and traditional media outlets do not necessarily have the control of what messages are being received and communicated to their stakeholders online, and these influencers are really changing the way that individuals are doing business and public relations today – we have to be more strategic and innovative in our approaches while adapting to the changes.
One of the things that you see more frequently now is that when someone says that they want to be online – they will say “well, we need to be on Facebook, Twitter, and online because that is good public relations.” I have to say that this is a starting point – but the focus of good and effective public relations encompasses more than just being online.
- The better public relations professionals have a strategic mindset – they are able to think not only outside of the box, but be adaptive and creative in new environments and being able to communicate in multiple formats and with numerous stakeholder groups.
- Public relations professionals have to not only be online, but they have to understand how and why people are online. Just being on social media is not enough – you have to be aware of how each specific social networking site works and operates. Plus, the individual stakeholders that you may be reaching might not be on the popular social media sites like Twitter or Facebook – but they may be on a specialized social networking community on Ning – so public relations professionals need to be mindful of this.
- Public relations professionals need to have balance in their online and off-line public relations practices. There are public relations professionals that are great in their daily practices, but are not online – and there are others that are only practicing public relations online and that is it. However, the most effective public relations professionals today have to have a presence both online and online to establish credibility and trustworthiness among their clients and stakeholders. In being active online and embracing new technology while incorporating it in a strategic manner – this is a winning combination for the public relations professional for 2009.
Hope you all are having a great day!