Did Social Media Kill The Press Release?

By Dillon Bianchi, PRSA-LA Liaison

Social media has fundamentally altered the way companies think about public relations in order to drive their messages. This paradigm shift has changed the way we define influencers and, more importantly, has transformed the way we reach them. Everybody has an audience with Facebook, Twitter, blogs and the countless digital platforms out there. Moreover, all of these influencers and advocates are far more reachable as they build an online presence. So what do PR pros need to do in order to take advantage of the evolving communications landscape?
press release
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Build relationships through social media:
– Follow the journalists and key advocates that you care about on Twitter, their blogs, Facebook etc. See what they are talking about on a day-to-day basis and join the conversation on their terms.
– Generic emails with a press release attached are being ignored more and more. Journalists want to feel like they were targeted for their interests and unique audience instead of being blasted at from a database list.
– Blog, Tweet and publish to social media on your own. Those who interact with your content have their own audiences and can help drive your message. This helps identify new influencers and media markets while giving you inherent credibility in the relationship.
– By investing in relationships you can spend less on paid impressions and utilize earned media connections.
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Create exciting content that provides value to your target audience:
– Press releases are boring, dry, and self-promotional in nature. Instead of writing press release after press release, think about ways to make your content and message more exciting. This could be in the form of a three minute YouTube video, an infographic, a whitepaper, webinar, podcast or interactive website.
– Don’t just focus on your company’s message and selling, selling, selling. Instead think about what value you have to provide to your target audience. A company selling video game accessories has a pretty good idea of all the new and exciting things happening in gaming as a whole. Create interactive and exciting content using this information to give gamers the content they are thirsty for. Your brand and products will inherently sell better and journalists will be more receptive to your message with that rousing content hook.
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Don’t rely on the traditional media to push your message:
– Once you have created great content, make sure to push it far and wide through your owned social media properties. The concept of attaching a press release has changed to sending/posting a link.
– Social media allows your brand to have a direct channel to reach your audience. Why rely on the gatekeepers of traditional media when you can communicate directly with your end audience?
– Invest in building a social media presence for your brand. That could mean a Facebook page, Twitter account, YouTube channel, blog or any other channel that is synergetic with your company and audience.
– Remember to listen and use your owned social media properties to have conversations instead of just using it as a broadcast channel. Your audience wants to talk about themselves just as much as you do. Ask how their weekend was and remember to build relationships.
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Test a message before it hits “the wire”:
– Social media gives communications professionals the unique opportunity to test their messages in real time. Are you thinking about what piece of content to spend time developing next? Test your top three options by posting to Facebook and Tweeting. See how many likes, comments, retweets, mentions and clicks each message gets and let the data drive your decision. In one day and through a handful of 140 character messages you will know what your audience wants to hear.
– You can also begin to understand how different messages will resonate with different audience segments. You can start to tailor for males versus females or amongst age groups. Facebook advertising will even give you the ability to test a message amongst the audience of a traditional media outlet. Create a Facebook ad targeted at those with Fox News listed as an interest versus MSNBC. You will start to see differences in the way different messages perform amongst the audience and then you can tailor your pitch to those news outlets accordingly.
– Always be gathering data, identifying trends, adjusting strategies and be sure to test new tactics. Social media works in real-time and provides a wealth of feedback. Take advantage of this extra level of insight!
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The world of media and communications is changing. Whether you are a PR Agency, a small startup doing in-house work, or a large national brand, you will need to adapt in order to stay relevant. Seek out experts in the field of social media and make it part of your strategy. The results will start to speak for itself!
How have you changed your public relations and communications strategies to adapt to the new world of social media?

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