The relationship between PR and social media

Almost every day I see another discussion about who owns social media, whether social media will completely reinvent the profession of PR and on and on. I’m not going to weigh in and give my opinion on any of those matters, as it is a never ending cycle. Instead I’d like to offer my opinion on how public relations professionals can enhance strategic communications programmes by employing social media tools.

Strategic plans are usually based on research, analysis, communications and evaluations. Those fundamentals obviously haven’t changed with social media and I don’t expect them to.

What has changed are the tools in our toolbox and the way we communicate and engage our target audiences. Obviously, the reason this change is occurring is the way our audiences receive their news has changed. Does it mean every programme needs to contain all the social media tools? There are literally thousands of social media tools to choose from so the answer is a resounding no.

I maintain that it all goes back to planning… if you don’t know where you’re going and why you’re going there, how can you possibly know when you arrive? By the same token, if you don’t know who you’re talking to how can you possibly know how to reach them?

You must do a lot of listening and planning before you choose the tools. If we’re going to affect change for our clients, we need to know what’s out there and what is having an impact on their decision making. In the end, it’s normally telling a story to a variety of people using multiple tools and tactics such as digital and traditional.

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