Traditionally, the business world hasn’t shown the love to PR as it has to advertising. U.S. companies spend $150 billion annually on advertising and only $5 billion on public relations according to eMarketer and PRSA respectively. In popular culture, ad executives are immortalized in the media such as powerful characters like Mad Men’s Don Draper who positions Kodak’s slide projector for success by branding it the “Carousel.”
However, if Don Draper was not a fictional character and were alive today, he might give PR a stronger consideration, maybe over advertising. Why? Because everyone is in the PR business already, thanks to social media. The practice of PR harnesses social media better than any other business function.
It doesn’t take long to realize the viral weight of PR today. Last year, I was lucky enough to arrange an interview between a client and The Wall Street Journal. The client was interviewed as a source, but it was never published in print, only online. However, that article likely spread to several other individuals via Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, etc.
Another example comes from the late, great Steve Jobs, who knew the power of PR when he famously started Apple product launch events. He gathered the most influential media, those who were passionate about Apple products such as bloggers and tech writers, and unveiled new products, knowing they would digitally spread the message in front of strategic audiences.
Here are four reasons why PR is now getting more respect, thanks to social media:
Effects of PR are now measured to a greater extent than ever before in history. Reporting on the effectiveness of a press mention used to be limited to clipping it from a newspaper and showing the clip to the boss. Now anyone can track how many times an article is being shared on social platforms like Facebook and Twitter for free.
Social media can drive more human communications. Rather than blindly pitching thousands of people hoping for a 1% response rate, public relations pros can deeply research and build strong relationships with the journalists most likely to be interested in the companies they represent. This kind of interaction is only recently possible due to the very high percentage of journalists on social media.
PR departments are now tasked with creating branded content and spending significant amounts of money on platforms that increase distribution for content such as Facebook’s Boosted Posts and Twitter’s Promoted Tweets.
Public relations now has meaningful data to influence big decisions. There was a time when customer feedback came only through focus groups, surveys and customer support calls. It now floods in through social media, which is tracked primarily by PR departments. A PR executive with a strong command of this data can influence high-level decisions on product, market positioning and more.
PR is about to enter its Golden Age. Most of the latest innovations of media, including social media, play to the strengths of PR as opposed to advertising. Who knows, maybe there will be a hit TV show about the Golden Age of PR.
What are some steps you can take to build up your communications platform via PR and social media?