Social Media and PR: The Balancing Act

teeter-totter With the popularity of social media seeming to have no limit in how far it can go, there are many who have almost completely foregone the use of standard or traditional PR and marketing. The news and business publications seem filled with companies that have managed to achieve unprecedented success just from creating a Facebook page or starting a blog. Why, they think, would I want to spend money putting out a press release or to hire a public relations company when I can do all of that myself?

A lot of is depends on the size of your company. If you are the sole employee and proprietor of your company, making enough to get by but perhaps not rocketing up the Forbes 500 just yet, then managing a small and manageable PR effort using just social media makes sense. You can find this a lot in the exploding world of ebooks with the growing popularity of ereaders such as the Kindle and the Nook. Many independent authors and publishers have begun using social media to find an audience, track sales and do a lot of the things more traditional publishers use to do with book signings and readings in bookstores.

If you are a larger company, however, it is probably not a good idea to throw out your PR and marketing department or get rid of the PR company you hired. In fact, the larger the company you are, the more you need a PR professional that can guide you through the potentially rough waters of PR, marketing and social media.

The world of social media is a place where many who are on there root for the little guy. They like the idea of the underdog who is trying to do something different on a shoestring budget. While there are many large corporations on a place like Facebook, and many of them have followers, there is still the stigma that it is a “faceless” company behind the postings. That’s why it’s so important not to just post company information, sales information and product information on your Facebook page. It takes a mixture of interactive posts to create something people respond to. Doing that takes time and it takes analysis of the situation and it takes agility to adjust as needed.

Then there’s the fact that not everything that you want to use to promote your company or product will work on social networking. Sometimes you just have to reach out to your local media. Sure, they may publish online these days, but you still need to reach out to them with a standard press release or story pitch.

That’s why a combined approach is still the best way for the mid-sized to larger companies. By that, I mean, a mixture of standard and proven PR methods and strategic and careful use of social media and new methods. It takes a lot of work to run a proper PR campaign and, often, it does not have immediate and thunderous results. There is a cumulative effect in PR that can grow upon itself over time.

That’s why PR professionals, consultants and companies are still needed. A PR firm with a qualified social media expert can be a powerful tool in your arsenal. A firm that can provide you advice on creating a press release, pitch a story to the media, advise you on what to put on your Facebook page, update your Twitter feed, write and edit your blog post and post links to social bookmarking sites could be the most powerful weapon in your promotions and marketing arsenal.

It doesn’t pay off to put on blinders and choose only one way to promote yourself. You need to do it in as many ways as you can. If you cannot do that on your own, then you need help. Remember that, just because the guy down the street had some success with his Facebook page, that you should abandon writing a press release for your next product launch. But a PR professional can tell you which news fits social media and which calls for picking up the phone and calling the local newspaper.

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