Social media has changed the way we act, react and elect our leaders. It also changed the way businesses uses it to increase market share and stay on top of your mind. Enabling them to freely communicate with you, where you want, when you want and how you want! At the same time, where there used to be a clear delineation between marketing and public relations, the impact of the social media has resulted in a blurred line between the two industries.
Generation ‘X’, being the latest member of this network, its evident new way of effectively communicating with masses is via social media. Some might argue that this is leading to the “death” of public relations. On the contrary, the web is actually helping to enhance the efficiency of the PR industry. So how can you incorporate social media and inbound marketing to enhance your business‟ PR efforts?
To understand better let's take a closer look at why companies use it.
Table of Contents
Most of us agree, businesses are using to effectively businesses to communicate with their target audiences, connecting with them, frosting relationships, to stay relevant.
How Social Media & PR are intertwined
Before the emergence of web & social media, PR was generally more focused on influential persons such as investors, shareholders, business partners, etc., but with the advent of social media, these individuals are present on these platforms, which can then be used for PR purposes. Both PR and social media are used to build and maintain trust in the company and their products. Both are based on communicating with its real-time messaging, amplifying your message, allowing PR to be stronger and more impactful. Content published via news releases, emails, and other PR related means can live longer, spread faster and reach further with the help of social media. Allowing businesses to reach a much larger audience. Earlier, PR was targeted at specific individuals such as investors and business partners, however social media has caused this target group to be expanded to include all persons vital to the success of a business. Enabling PR to be more “friendly” to all stakeholders of a business, resulting in a new area of marketing called “relationship marketing”. This helps companies to be more warm, inviting and approachable, regardless of their type or serious nature.
How social media PR are intertwined however still different
Though there are similarities, there are also major differences between PR and social media.
Communicating on social media is different from PR. Social media is sending conversational messages with the aim to influence sales. Businesses use it to engage with their target audiences to influence & increase conversion rate directly impacting sales. Whereas a PR job is to positively influence and increase customer experience and confidence, the messaging is consistent with a particular tone when engaging with their audience. It is the voice of the business and changing that voice can result in loss of trust and the audience.
The PR audience interacts with the content differently and usually in a passive way, whereas the social media audience is more engaging and interactive. This is as a result of social media being more two-sided than PR which is often seen as one-sided. Content put out for PR simply goes out to the audience with little or no engagement. However, in social media, content is published in an effort to elicit a response, which is welcomed by the company to foster and maintain engagement.
It is very difficult to determine return on investment from PR activities but social media impact is measurable, as several metrics exist to quantify social media marketing activities.
Why PR Will Always Be Important
Public relations has been around for almost 100 years and won‟t be knocking on death's door anytime soon. Put simply, public relations is the practice of managing communication between a particular organization and its publics. Any given organization has a number of publics. Whether it's by communicating with prospects, customers, media, investors, the government, or even internally with employees, PR is something that businesses always used.
Why Social Media Participation is Critical for PR
People have always said good – and bad – things about brands, and now that social media has risen in popularity, it means people have another platform to talk about your company and products/services. The major difference, however, is in the viral nature of this platform. When someone mentions your brand in social media, there is much more potential for other people to notice, and it's monumentally easier for conversations to spread much more quickly and easily. In addition, these conversations have the potential to reach a much larger audience than ever before. If your company is not participating in social media today, it's missing an opportunity to spread its message and missing valuable – and even damaging – conversations that could be taking place about your brand.
Generating Media Coverage
Media & Blogger Relations: Communicating With the Media and Generating Coverage
While media relations is only one silo of public relations, it's the topic that's most often thought of when public relations is mentioned. Obtaining coverage in media publications (TV, radio, podcasts, online video, newspapers, magazines, online news sites, blogs, etc.) is a great way to spread the word about your business and its products/services. Where advertising is paid placement in media publications, PR coverage is free, third- party validation, which often results in more credibility for your business. So how do you secure coverage in these publications and media, and how can social media help you do this?
Tactic 1: Connect & Develop Relationships With Influencers in Social Media
One of the best ways to land a mention (or maybe even a feature!) of your business in the media is to start by connecting with the journalists, reporters, bloggers, and influencers who cover topics in your industry. Luckily, the web and social media are great facilitators of this. Whereas you previously had to go through mass media to get your message across, the web and social media now give you access to a whole slew of influencers with which you can easily interact and develop relationships, all by yourself. By communicating with these influencers, you can ensure your business is top-of-mind when an opportunity for a story comes along. Below, we have highlighted some great ways social media can help you build relationships with influencers.
Each social media platform can be used in its own unique way to assist in PR. Below we explain the top social media platforms and give examples of how they can be used to add value to your PR plan.
- Facebook – If the company or brand is very conversational, this is the place to go. Leverage Facebook capabilities such as groups, mentions, call to action buttons for donations and pledging and other Facebook Professional Services and tools to assist in PR activities.
- Twitter – With its 140-character limit, it is the best way to send a quick message about a new launch, activity, and promotion or to provide any kind of update. Using hashtags is a great way to reach people and also to track what your audience and others are saying about your company or brand. Twitter has various ways to conduct research on your company, brand, competitor and more. In addition, its app, Periscope, is a great way to live stream and connect with the audience.
- Another way is to start following journalists who target your industry. Then start tweeting with them, but don't oversell your business or product. Develop relationships by tweeting about an article of theirs you enjoyed or ask how they feel about a particular topic on which they write. Sometimes reporters will also use Twitter to broadcast that they're seeking subjects or sources for a particular story they're writing. If it's a fit for you, reply!
- Twitter Tools for Finding Influencers:
- Twitter Grader: Twitter Grader is one of our free Grader tools that can help you find the top Twitter users by location and also measure the authority of a particular user.
- Muck Rack: Muck Rack is a free website that enables you to search for and locate journalists by source (publication) or by beat (topic).
- JournalistTweets: This free site curates tweets from journalists and allows users to filter journalists on Twitter by industry.
- LinkedIn – This is another great way to connect with persons, especially influencers, gain industry insight and circulate relevant information. It is also a great tool to utilize for blogging.
- Instagram – This platform is a great way to engage with the audience. Visuals are excellent for showcasing worthy causes and bringing awareness to serious issues. In addition, Instagram is great for promoting events (before, during and after) to keep the audience engaged and feeling as if they are a part of the event, even if they are not.
- Facebook and LinkedIn are great ways to maintain relationships with media, but beware: These tools are a little bit more personal than Twitter. Don't start “friending” every reporter you find in your industry. Instead, use Twitter as a way to initiate and grow the relationship. Once the relationship exists, consider connecting on Facebook and/or LinkedIn.
- BatchBook - Although it's not a free tool, BatchBook is a great way to keep track of your communication with influencers. Its core function is to serve as an address book that you can use to keep contact information (including social media credentials) for people (e.g. the journalists or bloggers you connect with), but it also allows you to keep track of any email or other communication so you have a record of who you've been in touch with.
Tactic 2: Pitching
We could write a separate ebook on the topic of pitching. The results of pitching really depend on the time and effort you put into it and can be very hit or miss. You could end up with some really great coverage, or you could end up spending many hours of your time with no results. If you'd like to spend some time pitching to journalists and bloggers, here are a few key points to consider:
Stay Targeted: Know the journalist/blogger and the beat(s) and topic(s) he or she covers. One of journalists and bloggers biggest pet peeves is getting pitched about something that doesn't coincide with what they write about. Don't spam them. It's a surefire way to end up on a blog like the Bad Pitch Blog, and no one wants that kind of exposure. Before you pitch people, spend the time to get to know their style and the topics they write about. Make sure you read their content, and, when appropriate, leave comments. This will show them you've done your homework, are already engaged with their work, and will also help you make decisions about which journalists are appropriate for what you're pitching.
There are paid services out there (Cision, MeltWater, TheHoth – are popular ) that offer monster databases that keep an accurate tab on the contact information for various journalists who write for different publications and what their specific beats are. If you're serious about pitching, these can be great resources, as it's often difficult and time-consuming to find contact information for specific journalists on your own, and sending a pitch to the newsroom's, firstname.lastname@example.org' email address is both ineffective and un-targeted.
Don’t Pitch the Same People Repeatedly: Don't keep pitching the same journalists and bloggers over and over again. That said, also don't assume that because a journalist or blogger has previously covered yours, they'll want to do it again. Segment your targets and only pitch people who are very appropriate for the story you‟re pitching. The next time you pitch for something different, target different people.
Brevity Is Key: Your initial pitch shouldn't be long, and you should avoid email attachments. Journalists often don't have time to read pages and pages of email or even press releases. Your initial pitch should be short, sweet, compelling, and highlight the key points you're trying to make as well as why that journalist should want to cover it. If they're interested, they'll request additional, more detailed information on their own.
Have Something Interesting to Offer: What's new and different about your story? Is it particularly timely? Have an angle, and make it interesting.
Personalize It: Show your target you've done your homework. Mention specific reasons why what you have to offer will benefit his or her readers.
Help a Reporter Out (HARO) is a great tool that helps to connect journalists‟ story needs with PR professionals who might be great sources. PR practitioners can register for a thrice-daily email that highlights queries submitted by journalists looking for sources on specific topics or stories. PR folks can then scan the email and instantly reply to any appropriate queries. HARO is especially helpful for businesses that are interested in reaching out to journalists but can't commit a lot of man-hours to pitching. Be mindful, however, that HARO has dramatically increased in popularity since its launch, and that for any given query, journalists could be receiving a very large number of responses. Therefore, it's extremely necessary that you not respond to a pitch unless it's appropriate, and try your best to make your pitch stand out. Even if your pitch doesn't end up getting selected for a particular story, journalists often put rejected pitches in their back pockets for future story ideas that might be more appropriate.
Tactic 3: Using Creative Content as an Outreach Tool
At MapleSage, we're firm believers that creative content is often king. Content has the ability to showcase your company as an industry thought leader, in addition to having some major SEO, social media, and lead generation benefits. In terms of public relations, content also has the ability to get you some media coverage. It's simple, really. By creating something interesting, compelling, or even funny, people will naturally want to talk about it, share it with their friends, or even write about it – no pitching required. Think about why videos go viral. It's not because someone spent a lot of time crafting an amazing pitch to a journalist. It's because the content itself was so remarkable, people couldn't help but spread it.
Not convinced? Here are a few tactics and examples of how and which types of creative content can lead to media coverage:
Create Fun, Interesting Content
The quality and creativity of the content is what makes it excel. Think of the kind of interesting, fun content you can create? A funny video? An interesting infographic? A clever cartoon?
Publish Interesting Industry Data & Research
Many of the media mentions are due to the data and research businesses publish. One example is the annual State of the Inbound report, which HubSpot compiles and publishes, their strategy is simple - sharing it on their blog, via social media, and “pinging” a few influencers who might find the data interesting. These reports have resulted in coverage and mentions from countless media sources, including major publications such as the Los Angeles Times, TechCrunch, Mashable, GigaOm, the blogs of prominent industry bloggers like Brian Solis and a TV segment on NECN.
Promote Content in Social Media
As we mentioned, social media is a great vehicle to spread your messages and share your content. If your company doesn't have a corporate Twitter account or a Facebook Fan Page, it's a good time to think about starting them. In addition to helping promote your content, maintaining a presence on these sites is extremely beneficial to helping manage your business public relations. We'll dive deeper into this later.
Is there an opportunity for your business to publish some data or research on a particular topic in your industry? Do you have a sample of customers you can survey to produce a unique report?
Press releases have long been a staple in public relations practitioners' toolkits. But now that the web has begun to revolutionize PR and marketing, there's been a lot of discussion about press release best practices. Therefore, to help PR pros get the most out of their news releases, we recommend a style of news release developed based on careful research of your market segment and target audiences. Compare the traditional style release to the social media release over multiple wire distribution services with the goal of learning how to optimize press releases for maximum PR benefits.
Setting SMART GOALS for News Releases
PR professionals create news releases for a number of different reasons. Here are some of the top ones:
- Increasing traffic to your website
- Getting journalists and/or bloggers to write about your company's story
- Publishing “ceremonial announcements” over the wire
- Building inbound links and increasing SEO to help your website rank better in
- Google and other search engines
Press Release Best Practices
Have something worth saying. Don't write a news release about nothing. Keep in mind that not every bit of company news is worthy of a release (It can get expensive!). Before you sit down to write a news release, make sure you have something interesting to communicate.
Write using a newsworthy angle. Tying in your news with some kind of newsworthy angle or story will increase its chances of catching a blogger or journalist's attention. Is it particularly timely? Does it fit in with some kind of hot- button issue in the news? Angle your company's story in a way that might make it more appealing to bloggers and journalists and, thus, more interesting to write about.
Conduct keyword research to discover your best keywords. Use Google Keyword Tool to help you decide on which keywords to focus on. Then use those keywords in your release, especially in anchor text. This will help in terms of SEO.
Use a descriptive headline, and limit it to 80 characters or fewer. Lengthy headlines often get cut off on portal sites. In addition, because search engines treat a news release‟s headline as an H1 (Header) tag, it's beneficial to also make your headline keyword-rich.
Limit your release to 300-500 words. All wire services we spoke with during our research agreed that this was the ideal length for a release. A longer release is a sign of verbose content, and a lengthy release also hinders its ability for syndication.
Eliminate Gobbledygook: Gobbledygook, a term coined by viral marketing strategist David Meerman Scott, is jargon, clichés, and over-used, hype-filled words that no longer mean anything. Eliminate these words from your releases. (Examples include “cutting-edge,” “flexible,” “easy-to-use,” “innovative” etc.) Remember, because news releases are now syndicated on the web, the media aren't the only ones who will come across your news. Therefore, you should communicate in words everyone can understand.
Use formatting bullets and Include your logo.
Don’t embed multimedia elements. Instead of embedding a video or photo directly into the release, publish it somewhere on your own website (such as on your company blog), and link to it in the release. This will save you money as well as drive traffic to and centralize interaction on your own website.
Don’t repeat links or anchor text. (The guideline above is the only exception to this.) Repeating links or anchor text within your release will dilute the value of the links in the eyes of search engines.
Don’t litter your release with links. Search engines will frown upon very link- heavy releases. For a 300-500 word release, 3-4 anchor text links is appropriate.
Link to internal pages. Are you trying to generate more traffic or SEO authority to other pages on your site besides your homepage? Link to these pages within your release. (Example:https://www.hubspot.com/resources)
The Company Blog
As we mentioned earlier, creating content is a great PR outreach tool for generating media coverage. Distributing news releases via a wire service might not be worth doing for every bit of news (especially if you‟re not using a free service, which can get expensive), but publishing articles on a company blog is a great way to share all of your company news. If you already have a blog through which you exhibit thought leadership, don't dilute it with company-centric information that could reduce the quality and credibility of the educational, industry-related content you publish there. Instead, consider creating a completely separate blog for company news, product updates, etc.
Here are some great ideas for how you can use your company blog to spread your Messages.
Publish Blog-Friendly News Release Content: Consider repurposing your news release content for your company blog by making it less formal and more conversational in tone. You can also include a link back to the article from the original press release to drive traffic back to your site. (We talk more about this in the previous section about the Inbound Marketing News Release.)
Publish Other Company News, Updates, or Achievements: Is your CEO speaking at an upcoming industry conference? Did you recently win an award? Use your blog to share news of your company's achievements, but be humble when talking about yourself.
Communicate Product/Service Launches or Updates: Did you recently tweak something in your product or add a new service offering? Communicate it to your customers, prospects, and fan base with an article on the blog.
Demonstrate Your Company’s Unique Personality: Did you recently hold a fun company-wide event like a scavenger hunt, a holiday party, or a softball tournament?
Write about it! Even better: Create a corporate Flickr account, upload pictures from the event and embed a slideshow into the blog post. People will love getting to know the people and culture that make your company‟s gears turn.
Include Social Media Share Links: Give the readers of your blog an easy way to share articles with their networks and spread your messages. Include social media share links on every article to enable readers and subscribers to spread your article on social media sites like Twitter, LinedIn, Facebook, Instagram etc.
Improve SEO: Like any blog, a company blog can have great search engine optimization benefits. In addition, influencers are always looking for story ideas, and writing an article about something unique will get indexed in search engines.
Who knows – your article just might pop up as a result in Google for a story for which a journalist needs sources. Then he or she might come right to you. Talk about inbound PR!
The Social Media Newsroom
Are you making it easy for journalists and bloggers to learn about your company, its products/services, and who to contact for additional information?
It's a best practice to have a page on your website where the media and bloggers can go to easily obtain this information. Below are some tips for creating an effectives social media newsroom for your website.
Provide Clear Media Contact Info at the Top: Sometimes a journalist or blogger is simply looking for someone to talk. Don't bury this information. The last thing you want is a journalist losing interest because he or she can't find contact information.
Instead, clearly position it at the top of your newsroom, and include multiple methods of communication – an email address, a phone number, even a Twitter handle!
Links, Links, Links: Instead of cluttering your page with tons of information, include links to other pages on which you expand upon certain information. For example, if you'd like to showcase your award wins or the media coverage you've generated, provide links to separate pages you've built to house that information.
Incorporate Social Media Elements: Your newsroom is a great spot to aggregate the various places your company maintains a presence in social media. Include links to your Facebook Fan Page, your company's Twitter feed, Flickr account, YouTube channel, LinkedIn page, etc.
Include Interactive Elements: People like to absorb information and be stimulated in different ways. Give your visitors variety. Some ideas include embedding a video overview of your company or product, including eye-catching icons and photos, or including links to audio (e.g. a podcast or video interview featuring your CEO).
Insert a Feed to Your Company Blog and your Corporate Social Accounts: If you publish a company blog (or two) or maintain a corporate Twitter account, add feeds that display recent posts/tweets and the link to subscribe.
SHIFT Communications offers a great template for creating an effective social media newsroom.
Download it free: http://www.shiftcomm.com/downloads/smnewsroom_template.pdf
3. Social Media Monitoring & Crisis Communication
As we mentioned at the beginning of this ebook, social media monitoring is important for any modern PR professional. And beyond monitoring, social media participation is also critical.
It's one thing to be paying attention to conversations. It's another to actually get involved. Luckily, with social media come some great tools for monitoring the conversation about your brand so you know where people are talking about you and can participate accordingly. While paid social media monitoring tools and services exist, there are also many free tools available to help.
Google Alerts: Set up multiple Google Alerts for your company, brand, products, leaders, etc. The alerts will get delivered directly to your email inbox at the frequency you indicate (e.g. daily or as they happen) and is a great way to help you track media coverage and mentions of your brand on the web on news sites, in blogs, etc.
Twitter: Monitor mentions of your brand on Twitter with tools like Twitter Search or HootSuite. CoTweet is also a great tool to help manage multiple users on a corporate Twitter account and allows you to assign particular tweets to the appropriate team member for follow-up.
RSS Feeds: Set up RSS feeds of searches of your brand in other popular social media sites such as Flickr, Digg, Delicious, etc. Scan the results in your reader daily for mentions.
Facebook Insights: Stay on top of and participate in discussions occurring on your company's Facebook Fan Page. Use your Fan Page‟s Facebook Insights Dashboard (found in the left sidebar when you're on your page as an admin) to show you stats such as fan growth and page views to gauge your page‟s interaction and engagement.
Social media monitoring can also be extremely helpful in managing crisis communication. By staying on top of mentions of your company in social media, you‟ll be aware of any negative or potentially harmful conversations taking place about your brand. This will help you thwart any possibly reputation-damaging discussions in a more time-sensitive manner.
Here are some helpful ways to stave off negative reactions about your company in social media during a crisis.
If you’re in the wrong, admit it. Keeping quiet has the potential to do more harm than good. If you notice something negative spreading about you on the web and/or in social media, it's best to address it head on. If you'd like an example of how keeping quiet about a problem has contributed to a damaged reputation, read about the Kryptonite Lock case study.
Update people early and often. Whether it's something as small as a webinar malfunction or something as severe as a security breach, if the situation is happening in real time, continuously updating the public on the status of the situation. Twitter and Facebook are great ways to release updates in real time, but use your best judgment about the best way to get the word out to your affected audience.
Be transparent. Tell people what happened. If you don't yet know what happened, say you're looking into the root of the problem, and always apologize for any inconvenience it may be causing the affected people. What people hate even more than a crisis is when a company doesn't take responsibility for that crisis. Once the actual crisis is over, write a blog article explaining everything – what happened, how you reacted, what you‟re doing to make things better in the future, and how you plan to keep it from happening again.
Alerts Grader (tool to help you easily manage your Google Alerts)
On-Demand Webinar: How to Monitor Your Social Media Presence in 2020 in 10 Minutes a Day
4. Value of Awards & Speaking Engagements
Value of Awards
Submitting your company for and winning industry-related awards is a great PR tool.
Winning awards has a similar effect that media coverage does – it shows your public that your company and its products/services are worthy of third party validation. Award wins can also be great as a recruiting tool.
Start researching relevant awards in your industry and putting together a database that you can use to keep track of deadlines. If you win an award, publicize it in your press room and/or create a dedicated page on your website to showcase your award wins. Why not also write an article for your company blog and share your success (humbly) in social media?
Value of Speaking Engagements
While social media has made building relationships and connecting with constituents much easier, it shouldn't completely replace the personal touch of face-to-face communication. Securing speaking engagements for your executives at educational, industry-focused conferences and events is a great way to facilitate face-to-face communication with potential and current customers as well as an effective way to exhibit the knowledge, thought leadership, and expertise of your company's leaders.
Start researching local events relative to your industry and reach out to event organizers to pitch a particular speaker within your organization about presenting an educational topic he/she has expertise in. Once a speaker has a solid repertoire of speaking experience, start reaching out to higher-level, more popular conferences and summits that attract larger audiences (these usually have a more formal submission/pitching process using online forms and strict deadlines). Ultimately, putting a speaker of yours in front of a large audience of potential customers can do wonders for your brand by connecting your company's thought leaders with prospects face-to-face.
Once a speaker is confirmed for an event, use social media channels to generate buzz and publicity about your speaker's presentation. Share the news on your Facebook Fan
Write an article on your company blog, or create a web page that aggregates upcoming speaking engagements. Even if people are unable to attend the event in person, reading about your speaker‟s presence at the event will show that your company is actively committed to thought leadership and connecting with its publics face-to-face.
Create a corporate SlideShare account and let people know that the speaker's presentation will be uploaded there after the event. This will enable those who cannot attend to access the speaker‟s slides afterward.
When speakers are preparing for speaking engagements, they should think of ways to infuse social media elements into their presentations. As a speaker, offer ways for audience members to connect with you online by providing your (and/or your company's) social media credentials such as Twitter handles, Facebook Fan Page link, etc.
By giving the audience a way to connect with you, your brand, company, etc. beyond the day of the event, you can help nurture and build the connections you make at the event into more mature relationships online. Make sure your audience knows that, following the event, you will upload the presentation to your company's corporate SlideShare account so attendees can access and share your presentation slides even after the event is over. Make sure speakers‟ business cards provide ways to connect with them in social media, and consider adding their Twitter handle or Facebook link.
Check out the Science of Presentations ebook for more ideas about how to make your presentations more social.
5. Customer Relations & Evangelism
Your customers are a great public relations tool for your business. Happy customers can become powerful evangelists of your company, products, and brand. Social media is an effective tool to help you facilitate and improve communication with your customers as well as a great way to promote your happy customers‟ successes. Here's the why and the how:
Using Social Media for Customer Feedback and Support: Let's face it: Whether you‟re a B2B or B2C company, your customers are participating in social media. Making yourself available to them in this space is a great way to communicate with them about a number of things, whether it's a product update, a maintenance issue, or the intention of receiving feedback about your products or services.
Businesses are increasingly using social media like Facebook and Twitter for customer support by using corporate representatives on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and other social networks to help support customers. Businesses are also taking advantage of their Facebook presence to survey customers and foster two-way communication.
Fodder for Media Coverage: Journalists are always looking for a great story. Do you have a unique or interesting customer who has used your product or service to achieve great business results or personal success? Customer success can be great fodder for an interesting pitch.
Using Case Studies: Generating customer case studies is a win-win situation. You get to show that your product or service actually works, and your customer gets to demonstrate how successful they've been! Consider creating a separate blog for customer case studies and promoting those case studies in social media. Case studies are also great to reference when pitching a customer success story to a journalist or blogger.
6. Employee Relations
A company's employees double as PR representatives for your business, whether you (or they) like it or not. Now that social networking has become so popular and is working its way into how we do business, many people have their own personal presence on social media sites. They tweet from their own Twitter accounts, publish personal blogs, participate on Facebook, have a profile on LinkedIn, and host their own YouTube channels. While this may be scary to some business leaders, the reality is that your employees will participate in social media, and it's very difficult to control what they say.
While businesses may find comfort in blocking access to social media sites at the office or drafting strict social media guidelines for how employees should behave on these sites, our recommendation is a more laid back approach. The biggest fear businesses have about their employees‟ participation in social media is that they'll do or say something that might misrepresent the company or cause damage to the company's image and reputation. While these are valid concerns, our belief at HubSpot is that a lot of these fears can be thwarted by simply making your employees happy and facilitating good employee relations. Happy employees equal positive PR. Thankfully, there are a few things you can do using social media to facilitate this:
Internal Wikis: An internal wiki is a great hub for internal communication and collaboration within a company. Use a wiki both to help communicate new ideas within the company and receive feedback from employees or to rally people to organize a company picnic or group activity to increase morale!
Corporate Instant Messaging: Enable communication between employees and across departments by implementing a corporate instant messaging system, such as Spark.
Transparency: Being transparent is critical to maintaining trust among your employees. Use email or your internal wiki to discuss company-wide issues or to communicate changes and announcements. Keeping your employees in the dark about major issues is sure to create unhappy workers.
No (or Little) Social Media Policy: No one wants to be told what to do, especially if it involves their personal life. You can't dictate how your employees participate in social media on their own time, and creating disgruntled employees by implementing a strict social media policy will only fuel the fire and create disgruntled workers. If you're going to initiate a social media policy, keep it simple, and use it to serve as a reminder that employees should use good discretion when engaging in social media.
Your employees should have good common sense not to disclose confidential information on Facebook, but sometimes a reminder doesn't hurt. Remember, for businesses' presence in social media, reach is key. Every person your company employs has their own social networks, and thus their own reach.
Empowering happy employees to spread the message of your company, its products, and its mission positively is a great way to tap into a larger pool of potential customers.
For additional resources on the importance of personal branding, see Dan Schawbel's Personal Branding Blog.
7. Measuring the ROI of Public Relations
So you've started becoming more actively engaged in social media to aid your public relations efforts. But can you tell if it's working?
Measuring the return on investment -- and more appropriately for PR, the return on effort -- is an important part of any marketing initiative. You Should always be measuring the success of your programs to determine whether your efforts are generating positive results. Measuring ROI can also help you decide if you need to make adjustments to your current processes so you can get the most from your efforts.
Measuring ROI in public relations has always been a pain point for practitioners.
However, the digital mesh has helped to make tracking ROI more reasonable and less of a headache. The following are some quantitative and quantitative ways you can track if your PR methods are delivering results.
Track Mentions in Media Using Google Alerts: As mentioned in the earlier section, Google Alerts can be a great way to track mentions of your brand on the web and in social media and blogs.
What is the tone of your mentions? Are they positive? Negative? Neutral?
Compare Mentions of Your Company Against Competitors: Consider measuring how your company is faring against competitor brands in terms of media mentions and their tones by setting up Google Alerts for your competitors as well. Website Grader also enables you to compare your website with your competitors‟ websites in terms of statistics like traffic rank and inbound links.
Track Press Release Syndications: Track how many times the press releases you distribute via wire services get syndicated on portal sites. Some newswire services like Marketwire offer customized reports per release to show you where your release has been syndicated.
Evaluate the Reach of Media Coverage: If your brand was mentioned on a popular news site or blog or your CEO was interviewed on a podcast or online radio show, use free web analytics tools like Compete or Alexa to determine the reach of those sites. Similarly, if your CEO was interviewed on a traditional radio show, find out what the listenership is typically like for that particular show.
Evaluate Your Reach in Social Media: How many Twitter followers do you have?
How many Facebook fans have you accumulated? Check out your Facebook Page‟s Insights to determine if you‟re effectively engaging your fans.
Net Promoter Score: Net Promoter is a management tool that can be used to gauge the loyalty of a company‟s customer relationships. Has your score increased since you've been dedicating more time and effort to customer relations?
Analyze Your Website’s Sources: Use Google Analytics to help analyze how people are finding you online. Did your site visitors find a press release of yours on a portal site that linked back to your website? Are you generating traffic from social media sites like Facebook or Twitter?
Count Your Award Wins: How many awards have you won? Have any of your award wins resulted in media coverage or talent acquisition?
Evaluate Your Speaking Engagements: How many speaking engagements have you secured? What was the size of the audience to which you presented?
Ask Your Customers How They Found You: While it might be difficult to determine otherwise, consider asking customers or prospects how they initially found out about you to determine if your PR efforts are actually working to attract prospects and, ultimately, customers.
Compare Results Before and After Specific Initiatives: Maybe you launched a Facebook Fan Page or corporate Twitter account recently. Do you notice any difference in your business‟ reputation or public perception since you started devoting more time to specific PR efforts?
Social media is here to stay and it will only evolve further. PR must also evolve so that synergy is maintained and companies can maximize on the huge rewards that can be reaped from these two marketing elements.