Public Relation’s main goal is to reach the most amount of people possible to generate knowledge about their client, product, etc. Before the digital age, this meant a multitude of different tactics reaching television, radio and print media. AND ON THE SIXTH DAY, GOD CREATED SOCIAL MEDIA!
This seems to be the answer to a lot of exposure issues that Public Relations sees, right? Well, yes and no. Social has given PR new mediums that generate publicity cost effectively, quickly and to a wider spectrum of people than ever before. However, for how quickly and easy positive things can be shared about a client or product, the negative things can be shared equally as effectively. Small Business Blog describes it as “the advent of social media, anyone can post a negative comment on the wall or page of a large company’s social media site. While many place controls on their pages to limit damaging posts, some companies do not. One way to combat this is to have a person monitor the site to delete or immediately respond to negative comments in a positive light” (Lauren).
Regardless of the implications that social media has given the Public Relations field, I know of one that has truly been beneficial: job opportunities.
Creating content digitally is a field of work unconsidered before 2010. However, with the way social media affects advertising, marketing and especially PR, the need for social media experts is at an all time high. A study done by the World Economic Forum blog states “social media is going from a “nice to have” to an essential component of any business strategy” (Guzman & Viz, 2016). With this in mind, companies continue to bring in digital marketers and content creators to improve their online presence. It is fascinating how the “social media” skill has become so in desire and marketable to companies. This applies to PR seeing that all affairs taking care of through social media usually (if not always) fall under the responsibilities of Public Relations. This means maintaining transparency with the public, handling crisis communication and marketing new ideas to a mass audience.
This isn’t seen just in big corporations, with content creators like YouTube beauty gurus and the “instagram famous” travelers have gained a HUGE following on social media. Now with this power, they can a) reach a wide audience about things they feel are important and want to relay information about (a form of public relations about their self-branded image) and b) be contacted by companies who believe that their products would be successful to those who view their content and want to sponsor said viral stars ( a way public relations uses third parties to market their products). Through their social media platforms, loyal followers will view their content as normal but (ideally) be persuaded by their support for products, making them want to try them out. This allows brands to reach a target audience they might not been able to before, through a new and progressive medium.
I say progressive because according to Social Media Marketing : The Next Generation of Business Engagement, “No longer satisfied with advertising and promotional information as a sole source for learning about new products and services, consumers have taken to the Social Web in an effort to share among themselves their own direct experiences with brands, products, and services to provide a more “real” view of their research experience. At the same time, consumers are leveraging the experiences of others, before they actually make a purchase themselves. The impact on marketing has been significant, to say the least.”(Evans, McKee, Bratton, 2010). This shows the great impact a major new medium like social media has on the marketing world (obviously). But this exact quote I like because it shows that old habits DO NOT DIE hard when it comes to making lives and jobs easier, and easier to obtain.
With content creation on social media as a new career outlook, as well as using content creators and a skillset in social media to create ample job opportunities in the PR field, social media has truly expanded PR’s horizons.
Evans, D., McKee, J., & ebrary, I. (2010). Social media marketing: The next generation of business engagement (1st ed.). Hoboken, NJ: Wiley Technology Pub.
Guzman, Alejandra,. Viz, Farida. (2016). 6 ways social media is changing the world. World Economic Forum. Retrieved from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2016/04/6-ways-social-media-is-changing-the-world/
Lauren, Lynn. (n.d.). Negatives of Social Media Marketing. Hearst Newspapers Online. Retreived from http://smallbusiness.chron.com/negatives-social-media-marketing-22347.html