We’re thrilled to welcome social media expert Michelle Stinson Ross to the blog!
We asked her to give us her take on ways to meld the best aspects of PR and social media–she did not disappoint. Check it out, and be sure to tell us what you think in the comments section.–Alex
This is your company’s big moment! You’re launching a new product or service. You’ll be opening a new location for your growing customer base. The company is going to receive important industry recognition. You need to let the public KNOW.
How do you do that?
Like most other businesses have been doing for decades, you turn to Public Relations (PR) to help you. According to the Entrepreneur Small Business Encyclopedia, PR is “using the news or business press to carry positive stories about your company or your products.” The news media carries a lot of credibility with the public, more so than advertising. The stories carried in the press also tend to have a longer life in the memory of the public than any advertising campaign. So, PR is incredibly important.
PR can also be difficult to achieve.
Even the best crafted press releases and pitches won’t get picked up by every media outlet. The reporter contacted may love the story angle but their producer or editor may have other stories that take priority. Honestly, it may just be that they don’t know of you or your company well enough, yet. At its heart PR is about building long term relationships with the press and the public.
To get the attention of the public when your company needs it most, you need credibility, expertise, and access. Your brand’s active social media presence goes a long way toward addressing those needs and can work hand in hand with your PR efforts.
As stated earlier, the news media garners far more credibility with the general public than traditional advertising. But there is another group of people that your customers and community trust even more. The personal opinions of their friends and family carry even more weight than anything they might see on TV or read in the newspaper.
With a business presence on Facebook, Twitter, or Pinterest your business has the opportunity to share and be shared by the people who matter most to your customers. That presence is also visible, especially on Twitter, to the reporters you need to reach with important news items. Social media can be the engine that drives relationships with the public and the press.
Often the key to getting picked up in the press is to be viewed as a reliable source of industry information. You need to be seen as the media’s go-to expert in your field. To do that you need to regularly demonstrate your expertise. But if you’re not already getting picked up in the press, how do you accomplish that?
Social media gives you the platform to showcase your particular knowledge. Even if you’re not yet comfortable speaking in public, you can write articles about what you do and how you do it on LinkedIn, Google+, and on your website’s blog. Those supporting articles can be attached as links to the pitches and press releases to demonstrate your personal history of expertise. Sharing them across social media is also a way to set your media pitch apart from all of the other emails that reporters receive on a daily basis.
PR is not a walk in the park. Sure, news outlets reach hundreds of thousands to millions of people every day. But how many of those millions are really the people you need to reach? You already know that reaching people like that is a numbers game. Of the tons of people who see a news story about you, only a small percentage will make the effort to seek you out. It’s incredibly important that you connect with the segment of real customers you reach.
Social media is the tool you use to capture and build on the attention you received from a particular news piece. The public liked what that reporter had to say about your business. They will want to learn more about you. They will want an opportunity to talk to you. Enabling that conversation to happen on social media helps new customers to walk through your door and keeps loyal customers coming back.
When getting your brand’s story in the news is critical, make sure that you’re supporting those PR efforts with every resource available to you. Amplify the credibility, expertise, and access you have to your community through social media.
Michelle Stinson Ross is a digital marketing industry recognized authority on the outreach power of social media. She has worked as a community manager and consultant for several brands to increase brand awareness, raise the visibility of special promotions, and train their teams to use the social space to connect with media influencers and the public.
Michelle co-hosts #SocialChat, a Twitter based live chat that covers a variety of topics geared toward social media marketing (Mondays at 9 p.m. ET). Her passion for social media marketing has made her a regular conference speaker at events like ClickZ Live, Socialize Toronto, and Search Marketing Expo. She has also been a featured guest on Webmaster Radio and several industry Hangouts on Air.