As a PR practitioner if you haven’t already embraced social media as your friend, now is the time. Social media is now an important part of the complete PR picture. Our society lives in a technology savvy world. In the past couple years a growing number of social media sites have popped up. This shows us that our potential audiences like sharing and connecting through these tools. But why is this an important piece of the puzzle for us to become experts on using?
- Quicker, across the board coverage: Social media allows our world to instantly share experiences, photos, and information with one another. This allows us as PR practitioners to have our news spread through our public through proper positioning. It allows our messages to be quickly received and spread to a larger audience.
- Helps crisis management: Social media allows for real-time messaging and feedback. It is a tool that if tracked properly can help PR practitioners spot possible problems and monitor what your audience is saying about your brand.
These are just a few of the benefits that social media can have for you in PR. More than anything social media helps you keep your organization in the limelight. This allows you to ensure that your organization stays top of mind and keeps you informed about what your key audiences are thinking.
Social Media is the New Age of Communication
Social media is a new way of life. Social media differs from traditional media in a variety of ways. Social sites allow for higher quality images, greater reach, frequency, usability, and they are permanent. This year alone Facebook a popular social network surpassed 1.06 billion monthly active users, 680 million mobile users, and 618 million daily users. Digital marketing is becoming a tool that should not be ignored by PR personnel because its impact on communication and spreading information is unlike any other. Now is the time to start familiarizing yourself with current social media including: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, MySpace, Pinterest, and YouTube. But, remember these are just a few of the social media networks out there.
Tips for PR in the Digital Age
Be authentic and use a natural voice within your messaging. Don’t come across as a cold and emotionless voice .
Make regular updates and posts. Engage your audience and keep them interested by creating interesting content. A social media site with little activity will quickly lose followers and interest.
Make sure that you are keeping your information that you are posting current and not out of date. Respond to comments promptly and appropriately.
Know your audience and post content that is tailored to them and of interest.
Acknowledge and allow other people to have their own personal opinions. Don’t delete negative comments. Encourage open communication, but keep an open mind. Respond to the public in the best way that you can to diffuse a situation. Don’t say anything online that you wouldn’t say in person to someone.
Turning Social Media Mistakes into Gold
It is important to remember that as a PR representative running a company’s social media that you are presenting them to the public through everything that you post. The information that you choose to upload to your networking sites is permanent. The internet is not a forgiving tool. Search engines can turn up posts from years past.
Remember to think before you post and analyze possible repercussions from posts that could go wrong. This will help you to avoid making social media blunders. However, mistakes do happen and when they do be prepared to go into crisis management mode. You can’t go back and fix what you have posted once it has reached your public. Social media has the benefit of reaching a larger audience quickly, but this can back fire if an inappropriate message is released. Also, social media can send out a message to millions of people with just a click of a button in a matter of seconds. All it takes is one slip up in a post and one person viewing it and your little blunder can become a colossal PR disaster. Many companies have learned this lesson the hard way. Take a look at the Chicago Tribune who shares some of the top social media fails from 2012.
Good PR practitioners have a strong understanding of social media, which can help them turn a social media disaster into a smooth recovery. The American Red Cross is a perfect example of a social media fail turned into success.
The American Red Cross Social Media Example
On February 15th, 2011 the American Red Cross Twitter account faced a PR blunder. On this day, at 11:24pm, Gloria Huang, Social Media worker for the American Red Cross assumed that she was tweeting to her personal Twitter account. But, Gloria tweeted her personal message on her work account instead. This resulted in the post seen below.
Immediately after her post there was a lot of backlash towards the American Red Cross. The Red Cross dealt with this social media crisis on a timely, and professional manner. They deserve a standing ovation. As PR practitioners we can learn a lot from the way they handled this outrageous mistake. You can see the response that the American Red Cross tweeted back below.
The American Red Cross dealt with the issue head on. They did not try to spin the incident or disregard it. They hit it head on and appealed to human emotion by being authentic and adding some humour to the incident. By adding humour they were able to downplay the incident, but also show that they were rectifying the situation. They did delete the post, but remained transparent and open about what had been said. They were open and honest as an organization, which gained the public’s trust.
The American Red Cross success did not stop with their Twitter response. The beer company, Dogfish Head Beer, that was mentioned in the tweet blunder went on to ask people to donate to the Red Cross. They utilized the humour that Red Cross used in their response to the failed tweet by using the hashtag #gettngslizzred. This social media stunt resulted in a partnership between the beer company and the American Red Cross. Dogfish Head Beer received publicity,while the American Red Cross received donations for their cause.
What Have We Learned from the Red Cross
In your PR career of managing social media networks mistakes can and will happen. This is why it is important to familiarize yourself as a practitioner with the different tools and how to navigate them properly. Knowing how to use social media properly will help you to avoid social media blunders like this one. Remember, think before you post something. If you are hesitant on putting up a post there is probably a reason for that. Not all digital age errors are this easy to come back from. Be professional and represent your organization in the best way possible. Image is everything isn’t it?