Social Media Has a Place in Your Public Relations Strategy

Social Media Has a Place in Your Public Relations Strategy

By Brian Keefer

Are you of the opinion that social media is a black hole of wasted time? A land of Candy Crush and Dinosaur Assassin, cat and baby videos, and recipes for slow cooker chocolate lava cake (yes, that’s a thing)? Well, you may be right. But if you’re using that as an excuse to avoid using social media for your organization, you’re missing out on an incredible opportunity to build your brand and enhance your public relations efforts.

At a recent Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Health Academy annual meeting, social media was a frequent, common thread for many sessions. And you could tell from listening to and talking with many attendees, that organizations run the gamut of those who have embraced social media and those who avoid it at all costs. It was apparent, though, that social media has the potential to engage, influence and educate customers in ways that traditional media can’t. So, it’s in the best interest of an organization to explore the opportunities social media provides.

According to the Pew Research Center, more than two-thirds of American adults use social networking sites, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn. If companies are looking for ways to communicate with and hear from customers, how can they ignore such an active, far-reaching medium?

Let me suggest three reasons why companies should incorporate social media into their public relations strategy:

Reach. Social media enables you to reach your target audience faster than traditional media. You can create and share content immediately. A bonus is that your social media activity has the chance to boost your PR efforts because many news reporters and producers are searching Twitter and Facebook for story ideas. That was a clear message from representatives from Kaiser Health News and Ivanhoe Broadcast News who spoke at the PRSA Health Academy conference. And, according to a survey of journalists published by AdWeek, 92 percent of survey respondents noted that monitoring other media and current events are important social media activities.

Speed. Once you post content to social networking sites, you have the potential to spread your information quickly. People share and engage content online, which will help you reach more and more people. If you post content that strikes a chord with people, their comments and sharing will continue to grow the views and likes you receive.

Savings. Using social media can be very cost-effective. Often you’re spending time, not money. Even if you spend a few dollars to produce high-quality video content, posting it to social networking sites doesn’t have to cost money. Compare that to buying ad space or time.

If you need ideas to get started, look for webinars or resource materials from professional organizations, such as PRSA. You may also find useful information from the social media channels themselves. And don’t hesitate to ask me or my colleagues at VTLO by posting a question here or visiting our website. We’d welcome the opportunity to help you build, enhance or implement your social media, public relations or marketing strategy.

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