As a social PR strategist, I’m often asked by entrepreneurs on how to best integrate PR into their business strategy. Here are 5 frequently-asked questions, and the related principles you should keep in mind:
- The Time Bandit struck!
One of the major complaints I hear is: “I have too much to do and not enough time. Now you’re asking me to add social?!” Well, yes, unless you want your PR to be about as relevant as the dodo. But I hear you (remember I’m a small business owner, very much in startup mode myself). There are tons of tools that can help you manage your time effectively, including the time you allocate to social. Some I use and love are HootSuite, Buffer, and PostPlanner, to name just a few. And since I can’t name them all, check out Ian Cleary’s most excellent tools directory. This is a resource to bookmark if ever there was one.
- “Can you hear me now? Can you hear me now?”
Almost always, PR engagements involve increasing visibility and thought leadership. But if you’re not actually monitoring the venues in which you want to build that visibility and thought leadership, how will you know whether or not your program is working? In today’s terminology, that means “listening.” In order to create one of the best Verizon ads I’ve ever seen, Verizon had to truly understand what their customers worried about. They had to listen. So why do so many small business owners pretend to be as socially hard of hearing as Mount Rushmore?! The funny thing is, almost all of us are already using “listening dashboards.” Google Alerts are nothing if not an extremely simplified mechanism to “listen” for what is floating around online, based on the keywords plugged in. And, in fact, if you come join my free online mini-training on Nov. 13, 14, & 15 (also it’s LIVE, just one hour a day, with a 24-hour replay for registrants) I’ll be teaching you some really smart ways to do this effectively.
- Me talk pretty one day… to me
You can’t engage appropriately without listening, which is why the listening bit usually comes first. But if you’re just going to listen, without doing much else, you’re basically using social media as a monitoring tool, and not much else. And that’s fine, except you’re not going to get much out of it in terms of community building, thought leadership, etc. Because no one wants to talk to someone who’s only interested in talking to themselves. The key to building engaged audiences (and keeping them that way) is really very simple: you listen, and you respond. Then they respond, and you listen. Then you respond, and then they respond. And so it goes.
- Social is as social does
When I’m asked about how to use social media for PR, invariably people assume you simply pitch reporters via Twitter. I hate to be the one to break it to you, but if that’s all you’re using Twitter for, you’re missing out. Yes, you can pitch the media on social platforms, but doing only that is an extremely dead tree approach in this day and age. Strategic social PR isn’t just about using new channels to “get your message out.” What it excels at is putting community at the heart of public relations. Look at who is talking about your brand, and your space on social channels, and find ways to build relationships with them. What can you do for them today that will make their life just a little bit better? Invest in your community, and you’ll be amazed at how much they do for you.
- Content wants her crown
As you start to integrate your efforts and socialize them, your awareness and reliability as a content source starts to grow. So you slowly start to acquire a larger piece of the overall conversation, which is exactly what happens when you build thought leadership… which is a large part of what PR – and social PR – is about. So to do that, you must focus on:
- creating great content that people can trust;
- curating good content regularly so that people can trust you’re not just out to put the spotlight on yourself
- participating actively in the social web by giving way more than you get (commenting on other blogs, talking to people and not just at them, and so on).
Otherwise it will be really really hard for you to come out on top in an increasingly socialized world. We live in an extremely holistic, integrated world. It’s time your PR strategy kept pace. Pivoting your approach to that of social PR will bring dividends far greater than you can ever imagine.