Using Old School PR to Leverage Social Networks

An interesting article has just popped up on the Internet describing how classic public relations can be used to leverage the new hot area of communication: social networking. Social networking is big business. With over 300 million users of Facebook and Twitter, a number that is larger than all but a few countries, social networking is a powerful tool, albeit an often intimidating one. The most often heard question is “where do I get the content to use for social networking and social media?” The following is excerpt from the  article “Using Classic PR Techniques To Support Brands In Social Networks” written by Marty Weintraub, president of aimClear; an internet focused advertising agency with offices in Minnesota.

Where should feed content come from? Nearly every brand has numerous daily human-to-human communication feeds, both in-house and outbound. The marketing department talks to customers, support folks to struggling or unhappy customers, PR to journalists and lots more. The intersection of social media and PR is about distributing these existing channels to subscribers surrounding seven classic nodes of public relations: 1 – Media relations. As long as there have been individuals and crowds to listen, there have been reporters.  Since brands rarely want journalists to hate them, maintaining relationships is important. As other writers deem your news meaningful, they’ll subscribe to your news feed. It surprises me how many mentions and links our blog has received without our promoting individual posts. We’re lucky because writers consume our feed and watch for material that will interest their readers.  The same can happen for your brand.  Feeds are essential for media relations.  Poll every potential stakeholder in your company, from PR to tech, and organize funneling any news to be published by feed and permalink. 2 – Community relations. Most brands “live” somewhere. The cities they live in (and market to) comprise their physical communities.  Since social media sites are communities too, reaching out is a process that helps solidify the public’s perception of a brand. Where the brand truly reaches out to community, it’s important to discuss any initiatives online. If a new factory raises environmental concerns, speak directly to issues.  If your parent company  helps build a city food shelter or supports lymphoma research, share the heartfelt story online. The public eats that stuff up. 3 – Customer relations. Brands have to keep customers or they cease to be viable brands. Customers as a rule are a snarky lot.  To keep them happy, reach out without fail to preempt concerns; listen, provide crucial information and serve their needs. Publish serialized FAQs, debunk myths, ask for feedback and offer more channels by which to interact with the brand and contact brand owners.  Social media networks are awesome conduits to listen and hear customers.  We all know that one malevolent user can takes a beef public and ruin out day. Be prepared to meet and great customers on their terms and publish matters important to them via social media. 4 – Internal relations. At first glance internal relations seem like a private affair. However that’s not always the case. Feature cherished employees in public feeds and serve worker populations with any important information suitable for public consumption. We’ve seen posts, as mundane as where .edu workers park their cars, result in organic traffic which converted. It’s interesting to note how internal relations can cross over to community relations.  Sometimes individual employees take on personal causes on their own. Engage them as emissaries of the brand’s parent company to reap the benefits of mutual support.  Publicizing employees’ actions above and beyond the call of duty rallies other employees and piques community interest. Whole families engage and there can be a lovely ripple effect. 5 – Human interest. Did someone use your product to rescue a cat from a tree or fish a diamond bracelet out of the bathroom drain? Maybe a founding family member passed away and their story speaks volumes about brand integrity. Inquiring people want to know! If someone survived cancer, climbed Mt. Rainier or won the lottery, humans love a good story so stay aware of hyperbolic content in whatever topical niche’ feel your brand is known for. 6 – Crisis management. Bad things happen to good brands. Recalls, riots, explosions, failures of executive character—you name it—things can go wrong.  Many crises require the quick broadcast of information to serve and contain damage to the brand.  These days there can even be SEO benefit to serving crisis-content in feeds. Links received from, or, though damaging at first, can be effectively channeled after incidents wane. One site we work with made massive SEO strides after a PR disaster because of link juice provided to the whole site.  We diffused semantic damage on the inbound anchor text and distributed power deep into the site.  Effective use of content, fed to the public, can help spin gold from garbage. 7 – Investor relations. If your brand’s parent company publishes a public annual report, there’s a good possibility that periodic teases, report schedules and other salient financial data will matter to someone, or possibly to many.  Investor relations are an obvious place that publishing by feed could be useful.


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