The Impact of Social Media on PR

The world of public relations is changing, and we must change with it.

Since the birth of social media, people have used various platforms to build communities, keep in contact with distant family members, share personal life updates and more. But over the past decade, businesses have made use of platforms like Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn to further their goals of connecting directly with the public.

According to a recent ING survey, 81% of PR pros feel they can no longer do their job without social media. Read that again. Now, let it sink in. But how much has social media changed your role in the past year? The past five years? Even ten?

As social media continues to evolve and new opportunities come to life, we as PR pros should be aware of the effect social media has on traditional public relations in order to create effective strategies for our clients. Here are just a few ways social media is impacting PR:

More data-driven initiatives.
Who doesn’t love more data? With more than 3.48 billion users on social media platforms, it’s no surprise that companies leveraging these platforms have more data than ever to help them make decisions. When looking at your company’s overarching goals, determine which key performance indicators (KPIs) will be most beneficial to your business. If you’re running an educational campaign, you’ll want to measure reach and impressions. If your goal is to increase sales, you’ll want to track engagements and click-throughs. And with platforms like Sprout Social, it’s easy! Then leverage these KPIs during the decision-making process to create better campaigns and earn better results.

Making use of the abundance of data will not only empower your team to create better social content, but it can also help identify which topics are “media-worthy.” By leveraging the social proof found on your channels, you can show members of the media that the storyline in question really will generate more readership.

More visual storytelling content.
Similar to PR, businesses can use social media to tell the story of their brand. Instead of searching strictly for earned media opportunities, businesses using social media platforms can reach their target audiences directly and engage with them on a deeper level. Consider creating video content to tell the story of a customers’ success with your brand and using your social media channels to share that story with your most loyal followers.

But don’t flood every social media channel with the same content at the same time. Strategize on which platform the content will perform best, test it out and alter your strategy for other channels. Once you find out which content best tells the story of your brand, you can further leverage that content to visually tell your story to members of the media.

More opportunities to work with “celebrities.”
Almost any brand would be thankful to be endorsed by a celebrity. And now, thanks to social media, you can! It might not be a movie star, but nano-, micro-, and macro-influencers are taking the social media world by storm.

Nano-influencers are defined as niche social media profiles with less than 10,000 followers. Micro-influencers are considered “mid-tier” and typically have between 10,000 and 200,000 followers, while macro-influencers are defined as having more than 200,000 followers.

Like trade publications, social influencers are a great way to reach a specific type of social media user. These users likely overlap with the target audience(s) you’re trying to reach with your traditional PR efforts. If you’re selling a product that makes people’s lives easier, consider partnering with lifestyle influencers to promote your brand. For example, Massage Heights Indy partners with nano- and micro-influencers around the city of Indianapolis to demonstrate the benefits of continued massage therapy through a 6-month journey. They invite influencers in for monthly complimentary massages and sit back while the social pros do the rest.

This tactic works for a number of industries and, in addition to storytelling, provides brands with user-generated content that can be leveraged as marketing collateral. It also lends a great deal of authenticity to your brand because it is real people telling real stories in a relatable way.

More affordable for small businesses.
Like earned media, social media is “free.” But, also like earned media, getting results takes time and effort. For brands who don’t have a large advertising budget, social media is a great way to share your brand story in an affordable way.

From exchanging products or services with influencers in exchange for content, to low-budget social media advertisements targeted to users in specific locations or with specific interests, social media is a great way to share content with your audience while maximizing your budget and providing stellar results.

More direct conversations.
Traditional public relations efforts are now vastly different, thanks to social media. Rather than drafting a press release and circulating to reputable media outlets under embargo, you can update your most loyal followers directly using social media, generating a buzz, and let the media members come to you. You can also tap into your brand ambassadors and leverage your social influencer partnerships to build an even bigger buzz about a product launch or an exciting company update.

When you do connect with media and secure coverage for your brand, make sure to promote it on social media – but be strategic about it! Connect with the writer on any and all available platforms so you can tag them in your posts. You should also tag the publication itself and consider engaging with both the publication and the writers’ content on a regular basis. If you show them some social love, they’re bound to return the favor at some point!

Don’t just think of social media as a sales tool, think of it as a way to connect with your audience on a deeper level and create a community of people with like-minds and similar interests. You never know when you may need to leverage this audience down the line to brainstorm new content ideas, campaigns and products by tapping into existing conversations or simply listening to what customers want and need.

Need help getting your social media strategy up and running? Check out our services page or contact Lauryn Gray to find out how we can help!

The Importance of Building A Personal Brand in PR

When it comes to communicating in the business world, there’s nothing more important than strong, authentic branding. When done properly, a brand tells a story, builds a customer base and captures attention. As PR professionals, we are often so focused on building our clients’ brands that we forget about the importance of our own personal brands.

In my previous blog post, I discussed the growing importance of visuals in the 21st century. Well, coinciding with this hot topic, it has become increasingly more imperative for PR professionals to build and maintain a strong image – or personal brand – to further the success of their company.

Personal branding is the practice of individuals marketing themselves and their careers as brands. It signifies who you are as a professional, and as we know, image speaks volumes in today’s world. Personal branding is not simply boasting your successes, but instead, an opportunity to promote your company, skill sets and accomplishments in a way that rings true to who you are and what you’re working to achieve in the industry.

In this article, I’ll highlight three ways #PRpros can leverage their own personal brand – whether it be via social media or social networking – to further promote their company and ensure long-term success. 

Establishing credibility
Your personal brand can add tremendous value to your company in a way that offers a realistic glimpse into who is behind the success. People like to know people. In particular, potential clients want to know the team members they will be working with. They want to know they can trust them, and that they’ll conduct business in a way that rings true to the company’s vision and values. The first places they’ll go to retrieve this information is either LinkedIn, Google or quite possibly, Instagram.

If your presence is nonexistent, then uh-oh, you may raise some red flags.

Is this person real?
Do they care about their job?
Who exactly am I working with?

That’s probably what colleagues asked when I left my Instagram blank for months. However, now, I’ve learned the value in my personal brand. Whether its tagging your company in your bio, sharing client coverage on your feed, or capturing the most recent team building event, your personal brand serves as an excellent platform to advocate for your company. If employees and high-level executives maintain trustworthy, authentic personal brands, then in turn, the company will be perceived as the same.

Enhancing storytelling
At the core of every PR professional is their passion for storytelling. It’s what drives our efforts and essentially lands us clients. Well, a personal brand in itself tells a story – your story. Between your hobbies, how you conduct yourself over the phone, the articles you read and share online, and the clothes you wear, your brand tells the story of your life, and if leveraged appropriately, your career. It has the power to transform your company from a faceless brand to a group of passionate professionals.

Furthermore, your approach towards storytelling can prove much more impactful than the typical cut and dry corporate approach. Taking a client story or company win, adding a personal touch or authentic tone to it and re-sharing it with your audience can prove much more impactful. In fact, when brand messages are shared by employees on social media, the estimated reach of a post increases by 561%when compared to the same messages shared by the brand’s social media channels. See, people like people, and your personal brand – comical, glamourous, sophisticated or whatever it may be – can capture the story in a greater way that leaves a lasting impression and sparks interest in your company.

Strengthening recruitment
As a millennial, social media is my channel of choice to help build my personal brand. And pretty frequently, my friends, family and industry peers react to the numerous posts I share involving any company events or my career success:

Your job looks so fun!
What an incredible story!
OMG that’s amazing!


They don’t realize it, but I am leveraging my attempt at a “witty yet refined” personal brand to advocate for my company. By integrating my personal values and company culture into my personal brand, I’ve attracted like-minded folks and cultivated a desire to work at Dittoe PR. Therefore, personal branding serves as a key player in talent acquisition, which can lead to 33% higher revenue for your company. While it’s easy to focus entirely on building the company brand, it’s the people behind the brand that potential clients, colleagues and consumers connect with most and evoke behavior – whether it be clicking the story link, signing the contract or applying for the position.

If your personal brand is already well-established, but you’d like some assistance with your company’s brand – we’re just a click away from helping you craft the professional image your business desires.

Signs a Career in PR Might Be for You

I wasn’t one of those kids who knew exactly what they wanted to do when they grew up. Some kids want to be doctors or veterinarians or teachers from the first time they’re asked that question until they graduate from college with a job lined up. What I wanted to be when I grew up had something to do with reading and writing and books – and to be a princess, of course.

Skip to college admissions time, and I just knew I wanted to be a music teacher… but you can’t be a music teacher if you aren’t accepted to the school of music. Then, I just knew I wanted to be an English teacher… until I realized I didn’t actually want to teach at all. One English literature degree, graduate certificate program, and internship later, I knew what my career was going to be: non-profit marketing.

As I write to you on a PR agency’s blog, it’s clear that non-profit marketing was indeed not my forever career. However, my education and experiences did lead me to public relations, and I can trace the breadcrumbs of my interests and skills that make PR the perfect career for me – and maybe for you, too. Here are four signs a career in PR might be for you:

1. You like to write.
Writing is a rewarding, if challenging, pastime. Ask any author on Twitter and they’ll let you know how much of a challenge it can be to get the right words on paper. When you get to tell a compelling true story, though, and it results in national media coverage, it’s hard not to be delighted to write every day. Whether it’s a press release for a client’s latest capital fund raise, a blog post for a product that’s changing kids’ lives, or even an award nomination so a client can receive deserved recognition for the amazing company culture they’ve built, the reward for touting all the amazing things our clients do far outweighs any challenges.

2. You are addicted to NPR, morning radio shows or evening news programs.
I used to have a 45-minute commute around Indy. On the fifth day in a row where I heard the same three songs and 10 commercials in a 20-minute window, I had to do something to stimulate my brain during rush hour. I found Indy’s local NPR station, WFYI, and I haven’t changed my radio since. I feel lost if I don’t know what’s going on in the world, in the US and here in Indiana.

In PR, this is a huge asset. “Newsjacking” is an opportunity we take advantage of often. If we hear an interesting story and one of our clients has a timely counterpoint to share, we can reach out to that reporter with our client’s unique viewpoint. And newsjacking doesn’t only apply to serious news. If a client has a fun event coming up and you know that your favorite morning DJ would love to attend, reach out! It could be a win-win for the client and the station – not to mention all the people who will want to check out the event when they hear about it during their own commute.

3. You’re bored by cyclical or repetitive projects.
Non-profits are ruled by the fundraising calendar cycle: Spring drive, summer event, fall drive, Giving Tuesday, holiday giving, repeat. Finding new ways to spruce up fundraisers can be a fun exercise, but once you’ve done it three, four, five times, the repetition can be draining. Hands down, my favorite thing about working at a PR agency is that no two projects look the same – even if you think they are on the surface. Creating a strategic social media plan for two clients may sound like the same project, but when one is for a hospitality client and the other is for a utilities company, those plans are going to look completely different. Having clients from multiple industries located in multiple states all with varying needs means every day at Dittoe is different, and so is every project.

4. You’re results-driven and tenacious.
I wouldn’t say I’m the most competitive person in the world – or in the Dittoe office, for that matter. But I do strive to exceed my clients’ expectations when executing projects. When a client hires Dittoe to secure coverage, I am driven to ensure they get the coverage they want, and then some. This can mean sending more emails in a day than I could have dreamed or spending time researching topics I don’t know much about. At the end of the day, though, when all that research and all those emails result in national coverage, stellar social media metrics, or a really great story, every minute is worth it.

These are by no means the only skills necessary to work in PR. If you’re entering the workforce for the first time, or looking at changing up your career, take stock of your interests in addition to your skills and education. You never know when having a favorite “All Things Considered” host or a penchant for local business newsletters might come in handy.