By Artwell Nwaila
This got me thinking about public relations professionals who suffer from the same technological fear. The biggest challenge of being in the communication industry today is keeping up with the constantly changing media. It seems the more it changes, the more technical it becomes and some may find it intimidating or even pointless to keep up.
The truth is, today's public relations professionals are not as separated from their journalistic counterparts as they were in the past, thanks to the rise of social media. The gap has been closed by the use of social media platforms like Twitter, Facebook
. Public relations officers are able to follow journalists and instantly create relationships that would have otherwise been impossible 10 years ago. If this alone is not a good enough reason for someone to go digital, then the fact that social media has also made the practice of public relations cheaper should get them grinning. Nowadays one simply needs to tweet a direct link to a press portal such as MyPressOffice
to generate interest around a topic.
And what about the instant nature of social media? The industry is more instantaneous than ever before. News breaks now, you send it now, it gets published now. Today, news spreads virally and repetitively on Twitter
, is distributed frantically via Facebook
and scrutinised and published on blogs. Social media therefore requires public relations professionals to publish fresh news quickly and anyone who is interested to access it before it gets stale.
The hardest social media platform to maintain, but the one that is an extremely important tool for the public relations industry, is the blog. Bloggers hold a large part of the information-sharing landscape within the digital world. They are unofficial reporters who demand a huge following, and their niche nature makes them a prime location for distributing targeted press releases. Many traditional publications that have gone digital have included the blog in their formula because it works. Cutting out the blogger by not factoring them into the information dissemination model essentially means cutting out a huge segment of potential readers.
And then, of course, the actual nature of the press release is evolving at the same pace as media. The integration of the SMR (Social Media Release) is exciting as it inspires experimentation and innovation. The inclusion of video and podcasts shows a new wave of interactive engaging releases that could be the future. Tom Foremski writes
in his famous article Die! Press release! Die! Die! Die!
: "Traditional press releases are created by committees, edited by lawyers, and then sent out at great expense through Businesswire
to reach the digital and physical trash bins of tens of thousands of journalists. " Social media releases thus allow for a fresh approach.
Today, the public relations professional’s role needs to be one of social PR, with the traditional press release transformed into a social element. Refusing to acknowledge this because you believe you are ‘technology retarded’ will not do your business any good. This really is not just for the communications industry as social media is increasingly becoming the standard, so professionals need to find the social link with their brand and adapt quickly. In a blog post
by Leigh Andrews from 2009, she outlined how CEOs themselves need to step up and get social, and not leave it to a newbie in the marketing or communication department. If you don't know what your industry is saying about your business, clients or initiatives in real-time, you'll will be the least informed. The same goes for any profession.
The PR industry was one of the first to truly experiment with social media and it strengths. Lots of these now-tech-savvy individuals then became social media strategists, so one expects the PR profession to be social media-savvy when it comes to social media ... are you? Let us know your thoughts on our blog