7:30 am, the alarm wakes you up, and if you’re like me, you take a long pause, evaluate your life decisions, and while still disoriented, you roll over and grab your phone. Then, you proceed to check your various social media platforms. How many likes you got on that photo you posted on Instagram last night, check birthdays on Facebook, and maybe see what’s happening in the Twitter-verse. Social media has become a part of our lives these days, as of March 2017, the average person spends nearly two hours on social media every day (Davidson, 2015). Corporations and Public Relations professionals would be insane not to utilize this valuable time to get their various messages out and connect with their audience.
We use SM for everything, whether it’s checking what reviews for the restaurant we’re considering, catching up on the news, or simply Facebook-stalking a new friend, SM has become a part of our lives. “Social media emerged as integral for cultural maintenance at every point in the circuit of culture.” (Vardeman-Wnter, 2015). It’s grounded in our culture, and corporations aren’t taking it lightly. Public Relations practitioners have utilized it relentlessly as a means of establishing personal connections with the public and creating a corporate voice that extends past a group of practitioners. Being a part of the culture is an important goal for PR and social media is simply a way to fulfill that goal.
Communication is key, and social media has proven itself a great way to do just that. Francine Charest conducted a focus group of professionals that utilize social media management and found that nearly all corporations that consider the general public as a target audience have a specific SM team devoted to pushing messages on all platforms, and without them, they would be falling behind the competition. “Indeed, it may be difficult for an organization to achieve its communication objectives if it does not have a dedicated team for SM, adequate monitoring tools and, of course, a realistic budget.” (Charest, 2016). Public Relations is still learning to utilize SM and how to target specific audience influencers as a way to gain media recognition and further push their brand and propel their company into the public eye.
Some professionals have argued that social media public relations is just a poor excuse for communication, but I beg to differ, poor communication would be not utilizing the tools in front of you, and social media is a big tool. SM is an outlet that reaches an extremely wide audience, these days everyone and their great-aunt has a Facebook, it’s no longer just for young people. PR practitioners can utilize this form of mass communication as a way to establish a dialog between brands and their consumers, after all, public relations is all about creating relationships and engagement between organizations and the public (PRSA, 2015). Museums have started utilizing the tools of SM as a way to reach out to the public and establish new audiences. They have found that utilizing an online experience as well as a physical one creates a new sense of engagement with the younger generations, and brings new people through the doors (Bojana, 2016).
Social Media is a tool that can and should absolutely be used by Public Relations practitioners as a way to further engagement and establish new audiences. Every day, people are scanning various forms of SM platforms, and it’s important for practitioners to establish a presence on these platforms as a way to reach the largest audience. SM is not a poor form of communication, it offers a new way for a brand to share experiences with the public and establishes an easy way for consumers to communicate directly with their favorite brands to further connections and relationships. Public Relations and social media have a clear connection in this day and age, and it is important that practitioners utilize SM to the fullest.
Davidson, L. (2015, May 17). Is your daily social media usage higher than average? TheTelegraph. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/mediatechnologyandtelecoms/11610959/Is-your-daily-social-media-usage-higher-than-average.html
Vardeman-Winter, J., & Place, K. (2015). Public relations culture, social media, and regulation. Journal of Communication Management,19(4), 335-353. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.emeraldinsight.com/doi/abs/10.1108/JCOM-11-2013-0079
Charest, F., Bouffard, J., & Zajmovic, E. (2016). Public relations and social media: Deliberate or creative strategic planning. Public Relations Review,42(4), 530-538. Retrieved March 23, 2017 from https://www.researchgate.net/publication/300411279_Public_relations_and_social_media_Deliberate_or_creative_strategic_planning
Yann, A. (2015, November 30). What is Public Relations? PR Definition: PRSA Official Statement. Retrieved March 25, 2017, from https://apps.prsa.org/AboutPRSA/PublicRelationsDefined/#.WNahWRLytP0
Bojana, S., Karlíček, M., Stříteský, V. (2016). Adoption of Social Media for Public Relations by Museums. Central European Business Review. (.pdf)