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#PR: Win the News Race with Social Media
By: Gerard E. Mayers
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Shawn Paul Wood, a PR thought influencer who now works at Ketchum PR, recently blogged about how social media has transformed how journalists and flacks approach their respective disciplines. At the top of his article, titled 5 Ways Social Media Can Extend the News Cycle, he notes: “To say that social media has been a game changer for public relations and journalism would be an understatement. In fact, it has redefined how the news is being delivered and how strategies to share stories are developed.” He also noted, “The exclusive belongs to the first person to tweet. The embargo lasts as long as someone doesn’t post the story first. And the scoop belongs to the journalist with the biggest shovel online. So, where does that leave the public relations practitioner? Sitting pretty, if you know what you’re doing.”

So, truly, how do us flacks deal with social media in such a manner that we are the ones consistently landing the “scoop” about our products, services, and more importantly, our clients?

Wood has suggested five ways social media can help you win the news race and make your PR work more influential.
  1. Share your news! Wood notes that it is almost axiomatic today to “include the digital and social components of the client’s brand in the launch process. If your client plans on putting a release on the wire, that link better exist on the corporate website via a blog or newsroom and shared on every social platform they have.” Yup. That means Twitter; that means YouTube; that means Facebook; that means Pinterest; that means LinkedIn. Your clients are going to be there and they are going to find news anyway. So, meet them where they live.
  2. Get in there. Almost every journalist these days is busy across multiple platforms, including digital. What does that mean for us flacks? It means the old “I'm calling to give it to you first” routine may no longer work. Get your news or your announcement on social media and do it fast. But also make it compelling so that it gets quickly picked up.
  3. Don't be boring. What good is a creative headline if the copy stinks? As Wood commented, “Whatever you do on social media, make it count. Eliminate jargon and loosen up the collar to those stuffed shirts. Regardless of the headline, people won’t share your news if the copy stinks. Think about creating a conversation rather than making yet another presentation.”
  4. Blog my man, blog! Flacks, consumers, and journalists all have at least one thing in common: a voice and a phone. Either blog it yourself or get to know the key bloggers in your industry; make them your “go-to” people. Then allow them to work and watch your news get even wider exposure...that it deserves.
  5. Get the CEO involved. This may be the most important, yet least done, portion of social media when it comes to PR. Wood sagely noted: “More businesses are becoming serious industry contenders every day; yet, the lack of CEOs in any social space is alarming. 'Well, I’m too busy to worry about social media' and other excuses are usually beckoned from the corner office. Your job, as a dedicated and loyal PR person, is to call B.S. on that. If your CEO contributed to a LinkedIn forum twice a month, the interest in your client’s business could skyrocket. He or she needs to reach the right audience by flexing some muscle where they will be seen.”
Ultimately it all comes down to one simple fact we can not deny: The news will continue to roll, whether we participate or not. Isn't it better to jump on board and be part of the excitement?

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About the Author
Gerard E. "Gerry" Mayers writes about PR and other relevant topics for PR professionals. A former PR manager for Sensor Products, Inc. (currently based in Madison, NJ), he lives in Milford, NJ.
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