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Public relations in the digital age is vastly different than it was in the past. Many new tools and strategies can help you manage public relations effectively, without having to spend a fortune on advertising.
In this article, we will discuss how to tackle public relations in today's world of social media, blogging, and content marketing. We will also go over some basic PR tips for small businesses so they can get started on their own!
What is public relations and how does it differ from advertising?
Before anything else, it's important to understand that public relations is NOT the same thing as advertising.
Public Relations is how you establish a relationship with the public. It includes everything from building your brand's reputation, to earning media coverage that spreads positive messages about your business or organization.
Advertising on the other hand is when you pay for an advertisement to promote something such as a product or service.
The difference between traditional PR and digital PR
In the past, public relations professionals had access to a very limited number of distribution channels. What this basically meant is that PR companies could only reach out to a few people at a time through traditional media outlets such as TV and radio stations.
Today, however, things have changed drastically! Anyone with an internet connection can publish information on their own via a blog or social media. This means that PR professionals have a lot more distribution channels at their disposal, allowing them to reach out to hundreds of thousands – if not millions – of people at one time!
In the past, public relations companies could charge exorbitant amounts for advertising campaigns because they were only creating ads and placing them in physical publications. Today, however, digital public relations campaigns can be just as effective and a lot cheaper!
While many large companies have entire teams dedicated to public relations, it's not necessary for the early stages. What you should do instead is hire one individual who can wear multiple hats and tackle all your PR efforts! This way, they'll be able to coordinate campaigns with ease because everything will fall under their responsibility.
How do you create an effective PR campaign?
Now that we've established what public relations is and the differences between traditional vs digital PR, let's go over some basic tips on how to get started!
The best thing about modern-day marketing is that it can be extremely cost-effective. This means that even small businesses have a chance at succeeding without having to spend a fortune on advertising.
Whether you're just getting started or want to revamp your current PR plan, there are four key steps that you should take into account:
Know your audience
The most important thing to do before you can start a PR campaign is to get inside the heads of your audience. For public relations efforts to be effective, they need to resonate with people on an emotional level first and foremost!
For example, if you're selling beauty products then think about what women care about the most. Maybe it's having perfect skin, being confident enough to wear whatever they want, or looking younger.
Once you have an idea of what matters most to your audience members, then the next step is coming up with ideas for campaigns that will resonate with them! You can use social media and blogging as platforms where you test out different messages to see what resonates the most with your audience.
Identify where you can reach out to people and how
Now that we've established why public relations campaigns need to resonate on an emotional level, let's talk about distribution channels! These are basically different platforms or outlets through which PR professionals can reach out to their target audience.
In the past, it was a lot harder to reach out to people because PR companies were limited by what traditional media channels they could use. In today's digital age, however, there are so many more options available!
You can create blog posts or videos that will go viral and spread through social media – especially if you're targeting millennials! You can also reach out to your audience members individually through email, or even advertise on social media. The key is not the number of distribution channels but how you're able to target people effectively and create an emotional connection with them for public relations efforts to be successful.
Create content that's specific to your audience
Now that you know how to reach out to people and what your audience cares about, it's time for the next step: creating PR content!
Just like any other marketing campaign, public relations efforts will depend on relevancy. The more relevant and specific information you create in relation to your target market's wants and needs, the better your chances of success!
For example, let's say that you're a makeup company and want to reach out to women between the ages of 18-35. In this case, it would be in your best interest to create content around topics like skincare or beauty tips rather than hosting an exclusive event for businesswomen over 40 years old because there's a disconnect in terms of interests. As much as you might want to try and cater to everyone, it's best not to.
Creating relevant content is also about knowing when your audience is most likely to be online for them to see what you've posted! Depending on the type of company that you are (and let's face it - every company has a different clientele), your audience will be available to view information at different times.
For example, if you're an online company that focuses on social media marketing and wants to reach out to customers who are most likely checking their accounts while they commute home from work, it would make sense for you to create content at the time when people are engaging with your posts.
Another thing to consider is how long someone will be available for viewing your content. Let's say that you're a company that creates and sells baby clothes for parents with infants, toddlers, and preschoolers (awesome idea by the way!).
If your target market is parents of children between the ages of 0-12 months old, it would be best to create posts during typical working hours when people can sit down at their computers and read your information.
Spread the word about your PR content
Of course, even the best PR content won't go very far if nobody knows it exists. So, you need to spread the word about your new content through social media and email.
Start by sharing a link to your new piece of content on your social media accounts, and ask followers for their thoughts. Don’t forget to include the hashtags – you never know who might be looking! You should also send out an email to all employees at your organization letting them know about the latest update.
People want to know what’s going on with your company, so sending them an email or posting about it on social media is a great way to keep everyone in the loop!
Strategies for dealing with negative feedback on social media
Handling negative feedback criticisms on social media is an integral part of today's digital PR. The first step to dealing with negative feedback is finding out why your customers are unhappy in the first place.
The cause of their issues might be something that has nothing to do with you, but if there is a problem it's best for both parties involved if they're resolved quickly rather than dragging on and poisoning your relationship with them further.
Before responding it's important that you take time out before doing so - for example, you don't want to post a response in the heat of the moment that may come across as defensive or hostile.
Another thing that you can do that will help address negative feedback about your business on social media is to keep your social media profiles are up to date. You may think that the state of your social media profile is unrelated to whether or not your customers have a negative experience, but it can impact their overall impression of you.
Think about it — if you're using an outdated picture or description, then unhappy customers may think that the problem they have with you reflects on how other people perceive your business. For example, if a customer has an issue with one of your products and goes onto Facebook only to find out that it hasn't been updated since 2012, they may think the problem is endemic to your business as a whole.
By taking steps to make sure your social media profiles are up to date you can avoid this happening and give customers more confidence in who they're dealing with.
What not to do when you're in a public relations crisis
No matter how meticulous you are about running your PR campaign, a time will come when your business is likely to face a crisis.
From product recalls, data breaches, and lawsuits about unpaid wages - there are so many ways that your business will find itself in the hot seat for all of the wrong reasons.
You must always remember that how you handle this type of situation will speak volumes about yourself as an owner or manager. Because let's face it - you're the one who's ultimately responsible for everything that happens to your business. So if things go south, it will be up to you to take control of the situation and resolve the issue as quickly as possible - or else face even further damage.
And when it comes time for dealing with a crisis, do not make these common public relations blunders:
- Don't ignore the situation - you can never hope to sweep a crisis under the rug.
- Don't point fingers at others - do not try to place blame on your employees, suppliers, or partners for what has happened.
- Do not show panic in public/social media - it's important that whatever mistake was made is acknowledged quickly and without any excuses.
- Do not make matters worse by trying to cover up the issue - whether it's with altered statements, additional lawsuits, or threats of legal action against detractors; this kind of behavior will only make your company look guiltier than before.
- Do what you can to resolve the problem as soon as possible and then move on from there with a renewed commitment to public relations best practices.
- Don't be afraid to apologize - however, make sure that you are apologizing for the right thing and don't overdo it by being excessively apologetic.
- Do not ever try to cover up what happened or put a spin on things in your favor; this will only lead people to question your credibility more than ever.
Let's wrap it up
The digital age has changed the game for public relations, but it's not all bad. Publicists can now use social media to communicate with their audience more efficiently and they have access to an unprecedented amount of data about what people are saying about them online.
There is no doubt that this new era brings some challenges-especially when you factor in the changing nature of journalism as well as how quickly things move on social media this days-but there are also many opportunities too! It's up to each individual or company who wants success with PR to take advantage of these changes by adapting accordingly.
This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.
© 2021 Daniel Edulan Melana