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Five ways social media is changing PR

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While social media has impacted nearly every industry, its influence on media and public relations has been especially profound.

In an ING study on the criticality of social media, 81% of PR professionals and 78% of journalists indicated they can no longer do their job without leveraging social networks.

On average, consumers spend nearly 2.5 hours on social sites every day. With such a focus on this technology, it’s no surprise that 60% of brands expect social budgets to continue to increase year over year. These statistics alone show how much of an impact social media has had on our industry from a quantitative view — but what about the day-to-day changes that this technology brings to our work?

Here are five key ways that social media is changing PR.

Emerging tech trends

With new apps, tools and technologies being created each day, we are realizing the extent to which virtual reality (VR) can deliver value and creativity for clients. VR provides a level of realness and excitement that a press release or a short video simply failed to do in the past. VR results in a deeper emotional connection with stakeholders that is certain to change the game in digital storytelling.

Idaho Commerce — a Cision client — leveraged the VR experience at the recent SelectUSA Summit, which draws more than 3,000 companies, including 1,000-plus global investors. Idaho Commerce’s goal was to promote the region as an exceptional place for international investment, but foreign stakeholders were not familiar with the state’s business climate. VR allowed people at Idaho’s trade show booth to virtually visit the state’s landmark sites. This helped potential investors understand what the state had to offer. Idaho Commerce’s display was one of the highlights of the event.

Two-way conversations

Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, YouTube and other social media channels have transformed the communication between companies and the public. The PR process used to be surprisingly one dimensional, but the future of PR is a conglomeration, with a focus on leveraging new innovations to communicate with the public. In the era of instant Twitter and Instagram feedback, companies now have customer service representatives fielding questions in real time via social media.

As the future of PR continues to transform, the line between marketing, customer service and PR will become more and more blurred. People’s trust in companies has diminished rapidly over the past decade. In the next five years, there will be a public call for companies to become more transparent, which could lead to 24/7 live video recordings of manufacturing facilities, daily updates from the CEO or even virtual tours of different offices around the world — all communicated directly through social media.

Niche influencers

PR is no longer simply about traditional media. Social communication makes it possible for the average person to create their own platform and cultivate their audience in a way that has never been possible before. The future of PR leverages the macro-influencers (those with fewer than 100,000 followers) and micro-influencers (those with fewer than 10,000 followers). As the pendulum swings toward the small, expect these nimble influencers to continue to make a big impact in the PR world.

Dizzying news cycle

Social and digital media have shortened the life span of news, pushing often-frenzied journalists to turn around stories in a short time. This has forced us to keep up. Roughly 6,000 tweets are shared every second on Twitter. While this makes social media a highly effective tool for communicating breaking news coverage, it also means the lifespan of a story is much shorter than it used to be. Journalists are constantly searching for “the next big thing,” and we need to keep up with their turnaround time.

In today’s turbulent news cycle, journalists and the public turn to Twitter to get the latest news, making the competition to get attention from media even harder. PR pros spend less time blanketing news to a wide net of journalists and instead focus on very targeted media outreach and relationship building. Journalists are often pressed for time in this continuous news cycle, forcing them to prioritize, capture essential stories first and, perhaps, neglect other leads that have some appeal. To ensure this does not happen, we need to be sure to get to the point in pitches and provide the information as quickly as possible — as a reporter would in his or her lede.

Access to journalists

Social media helps us get the inside scoop on reporters. By following a journalist on social networking sites, we can gain insight into a reporter’s tone of voice, opinions on relevant topics and recent work.

Now, this doesn’t mean you should drop all other responsibilities and spend 40-plus hours a week sifting through Twitter. Instead, use tools like Cision to find journalists that meet your criteria and get instantly connected with their recent web content and profiles. In addition to being a great resource for finding reporters, social media will continue to morph into a platform to connect and pitch journalists. While some media still prefer to be pitched by email, Twitter and LinkedIn are both emerging as platforms where journalists are open to receiving relevant pitches.

With social media constantly changing, we must stay atop its many trends and innovations. Social media shows no signs of slowing down, and it’s up to us to adapt our strategies or get left behind.

This article originally appeared on Cision.com.

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