By Amanda Handley (Capital Chapter)
Opening her breakout session on 21st century media relations, Shonali Burke asked, “Why does PR have such a bad rap?” The answer: because we are guilty of relying on the same tactics in spite of a constantly changing world of news and information. Social media has become a primary source of news for many people, so getting your client’s message(s) through to the target audience(s) can be challenging.
Some of the challenges include:
- Fewer print publications and traditional news outlets.
- Sheer volume of “noise” and tweets is overwhelming.
- People don’t have time to consume the news the way they did in the past.
In light of these obstacles, our job as public relations professionals is to generate the right kind of news for our clients and help target audiences find that news. Burke offered three suggestions.
Better PR: Make your traditional public relations efforts better.
Stop the Zombie Pitching.
- Impersonal e-blasts are ineffective pitching tools. Take the time to address the person you’re targeting properly. No one likes a “Dear ________,” email.
- Research your target to ensure you have selected influencers or members of the media who are right for your client’s goals.
- Clearly state value for your target and/or their audience. Explain why your story/product matters for this audience.
- Include a specific call to action. Most people are reviewing information and news on a smart phone. Without a specific call to action, they are unlikely to take action.
Start Listening. There are seemingly endless ways to listen to conversations already happening.
- Create lists with geographical or topic targeting.
- Research and follow hashtags.
- Utilize alerts. Burke specifically recommended TalkWalker, Feedly and IFTTT.
Once you have started listening, you can then connect with reporters, writers and other targets via social media. Offer information they don’t already have. Be timely – waiting for days to reply or respond can cost you.
Be Human. Remember you are a human connecting with other humans. Listen, engage, share and help.
Better, Social PR: Talk to and with Your Public/Audience
Build and nurture a sense of community, and that community will then lift your work and clients. With so many social platforms available and because social media is a primary source for so many, being social in your public relations efforts is key.
Good content is at the core of good social PR. Ensure that content is both relevant and engaging for the community. Conversation is really important as news is social. You want to invite others to join the conversation and you may want to participate in ongoing discussions. Once you build a community, foster it. Again, it is about engaging your audience. Ten percent of theSkimms’ 2014 growth was a direct result of their community encouraging others to try it.
Create your own conversation. Do not simply blog: open a forum. Include influencers in your community. Listen and initiate conversation utilizing tools like Twitter chats, Google Hangouts, Ask Me Anything, blog relays or even Periscope.
Better, Social, Measurable PR
Just because public relations has changed does not mean it is no longer measurable. Jeff Bladt said, “What you measure is what you manage to.” Burke suggested taking advantage of tracking URLs, making content and concepts “shareable,” and remembering to achieve results that matter for your clients. Use the aforementioned listening and sharing mechanisms to measure the success of your efforts. For more information, Burke recommended AMEC Metrics Framework Template for helpful measurement planning.
By embracing the evolution of media relations and adjusting tactics, public relations professionals can continue to get clients in the news and have target audiences find that news.
President and CEO, Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc.
Shonali Burke was named to PRWeek’s inaugural top “40 Under 40”″ list of US-based PR professionals and is considered one of 25 women that rock social media. As President and CEO of Shonali Burke Consulting, Inc., she uses measurable social PR to take your business communications from corporate codswallop to community cool .™ Burke is Adjunct Faculty at Johns Hopkins University, publisher of the popular PR and digital media blog, Waxing UnLyrical, and founder and curator of the #measurePR hashtag and Twitter chat. A foodie who loves shoes, she defies you to dislike Elvis.