Social Media vs/+ Public Relations?

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Organizations, corporations and individuals use communication to express themselves in a variety of manners. A typical organization has a number of divisions which work towards enhancing its reputation among its publics. These divisions , such as public relations and sales, were considered to be two entirely independent branches with very little in common. Such an approach towards communication management was commonly adopted because historically these disciplines emerged independently of one another and dealt with disparate subject matters. However, over the years the scope of these disciplines expanded to the extent where some of their defining principles overlapped with each other and caused considerable confusion within an organization. Eventually, it is because clear that such a rigid communications strategy resulted in less than optimal utilization of resources and causes a lot of management overhead. The emergence of Integrated Communications was encouraged by the growing need for more holistic and flexible approaches towards communications management. The goal of Integrated Communications is to take into account the overall strategy of a company and combine traditionally disparate communication agencies of marketing, public relations, sales, advertising etc, and devise a coherent strategy that drives all these efforts towards the common goal of enhancing the reputation of the organization.

The power of social media is inexpressible these days. It has the ability to either elevate or depress a company. Social media sites like facebook and twitter have become a criteria to check before analyzing a candidate. Employees search for a potential employee’s facebook accounts and twitter handles before calling them for an interview. But has social media become a synonym for public relations? Or has social media become a completely different entity? Do we need have a future with these sites and what is the future of public relations?. Networking plays a vital role is improving business and clients. I have analysed two articles that talk about the impact of social media on public relations and analyzing the impact of social media: from facebook and twitter..An era when every company is expected to have a social media account, especially facebook and twitter, the competition in the market has increased. A lot of times, promotion on social media is more effective that the traditional approach.

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The article “the impact of social media”  (http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/03/21/impact-social-media-public-relations) portrays social media as an entity that has brought companies close to people. The goal has shifted from pulling crowd to going to the place where crowd is present. Molding audience to your thought was the classical approach whereas taking feedback and implementing their ideas is the new way. Nigel Ferrier, director, Optimise PR and executive chairman, FPCG says, “It used to be B2B and B2C but now it’s B2P, with P being people. Social media cuts across channels and is all about engaging with individuals, holding conversations not relying on press releases and launches”.  The author also emphasizes on the need of accurate privacy setting that does not create controversies. Every coin has two sides, in the same way, while on one hand, social media enhances the business opportunities of firms, it is evident that this also has ill effects if not handled properly. Instagram’s private policies lost out on a few million users.

Have social media and Public relations become synonyms?

The answer is no. I think that social media is one of the tools of public relations that bridges the gap between the company and the audience. It puts forward the mirror image of the companies thoughts. Every social media site has a saturation point, when one dies, the other rises. Orkut was kicked out of the market after the emergence of facebook. And facebook has one of the largest number of accounts on social media.Pete Goold, Managing director, Punch Communications observes, “The ideal is to have the appropriate areas working harmoniously and irrespective of which one leads the activity; ensuring that there is openness across the team is likely to create the best outcome”.  In my opinion, PR’s traditional toolbox lend the profession to leading the way in social media.  The article points out that PR pro must build on their technical and quantitative skill. Adam Lewis, managing partner, immediate future emphasizes that “Column inches, circulation and the dodgy old advertising equivalent value have been the mainstay of PR measurement for far too long. In contrast social media provides hundreds of potential KPIs, covering not just reach, but engagement, sentiment and loyalty. Understanding the value of social media means having a more analytical mind that can decipher the relationship between things like retweets, comments and authority. Most PRs are not naturally technically minded.- they are creative, people. But they need to know the difference between an API, BIT.LY, App, CSS and CMS for example.”

“Analyzing the Impact of Social Media:From Twitter to Facebook”  (http://www.thedrum.com/news/2012/03/21/impact-social-media-public-relations) is a white paper written by Vocus. It is an interesting article as it highlights the nuances of the usage of social media and its impact. While online marketing has a upper hand on social media, carefully understanding the function is important.  The author quotes the example of Dominos, whereas the prank played by two employees of Domino’s pizzas created rage on social media. It not only costed them their jobs and a case against them but also brought bad reputation to the company.  Similarly, Mcdonalds idea to promote their brand through #meethefarmers and #mcdstories ended up being disaster. Users started posting their bad experiences on social networking sites. Its important for one to research before giving power to post in public and accordingly evaluate the work done. The author explains in detail the indicators of impact. Sharing is one of the common ways of measuring the impact of a story. The more the shares, the more people have gone through and have addressed it. A few methods measuring the impact  are by generating sales leads,  the word passes across various channels . As the market is growing , it is vital to coordinate with the marketing and sales department. Customer satisfaction and feedback is necessary in every industry. People, follow or like you only if the product has reached their level of satisfaction. This is a good way of understanding the fans or followers level. If the measure is good, let the world know about it.

As technology increases, the avenues for other fields also increases. Innovation and creativity are built on the bases of understanding concepts. Evaluation is the key to measuring the success or failure. As social media and Public relations go hand in hand, it is certain that there would be tremendous change in the way a product markets and brands itself.

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