Social Media: A Game Changer for Public Relations

Social media is becoming a bigger part of our world every day. From daily communication to large company promotion, social media is an ever-changing medium that most people rely on for information. To learn more about how public relations practitioners and companies are dealing with the impact that social media is making, I read an academic journal article this week for my public relations class. I chose the following article:

DiStaso, M., McCorkindale, T., & Wright, D.K., (2011). How public relations executives perceive and measure the impact of social media in their organizations. Public Relations Review, 37(3), 235-328.

For the article, 25 interviews were held with public relations executives about the challenges and questions they face in the social media world. The public relations executives were also asked questions about the opportunities they saw in social media for their companies.

The group being interviewed included 12 members of the Board of Trustees and four current participants in the Future Leaders Program of the Arthur W. Page Society and nine members of the Board of the Institute of Public Relations – many of whom held positions with Fortune 500 companies.

The public relations executives were asked questions ranging from what opportunities they saw in social media for their companies.

Results

You must communicate effectively with your stakeholders, and to do this you have to go where they are. This is why it is important for companies to be involved in the communications happening about them in social media.

The most common challenge is understanding and accepting the lack of control in social media. People are unpredictable beings, and because of that, companies have to be aware of both internal and external threats dealing with social media.

Understanding how to properly use social media is imperative. To be able to use social  media strategically, those in charge must understand how to effectively communicate using different channels.

Staying up to date with the ever-changing platform that is social media is difficult. Older employees were less familiar with the medium, and many teams had to be taught on the go while social media evolves.

How public relations professionals are going to deal with the findings will change from company to company. Many will be concerned with how to train their staff, and others will want to properly invest time and money into resources for social media. As a whole, they all felt that it was essential to uncover and understand how to measure their successes on social media. To do this, they have to recognize what is actually substantial rather than reacting to everything that is put online.

From the study it can be determined that the public relations executives are aware of how important social media is going to be to the success of their companies. By using social media, organizations can engage with their customers and increase the understanding of both their market and their competitors.

Things You Need to Know to Succeed in The Public Relations World

Immersing yourself in public relations can come as a shock. When in classes, we have ideas thrown at us left and right. We examine past PR cases; observe what went wrong and praise what went right; and study, highlight and compile lists of what you would have done if you were in the PR practioner’s shoes. All this practice that we are doing now is preparing us for success in the future.

Thanks to an informational interview with Lee Weinstein, owner of Weinstein PR in Portland, Ore., here is a list of what I felt he conveyed as some of the most important things a student could know when trying to start a career in public relations.

Learn to write.

“Writing well is the most important skill anyone in PR could have. It helps develop great stories. It helps strategize,” says Lee Weinstein. Writing is something we practice over and over in school, and it’s for a reason. Being able to not only write well but also write in correct grammar and format is something that is going to save you down the line.

Always be ready to handle anything.

There is no “typical day” in public relations. You never know what is going to happen because you can’t control how people are going to react to situations. This is why doing your research and preparing yourself and your team for any obstacle is necessary.

Learn early how to time manage.

A working day in public relations can last 24 hours, but those 24 hours will seem a lot shorter when you have 50 things on your plate. You have to manage clients, bosses, otheremployees and whatever projects you are working on at the moment, so learn how to juggle multiple things at once on a time limit.

“The most challenging part about [public relations] is not having enough time and taking on too much work,” says Lee Weinstein.

Love what you do.

This is going to be your career – what you are going to be doing for the rest of your life. If you wake up one day and look in the mirror and you aren’t happy, then make some changes. This can mean anything from taking on different projects to switching from a nonprofit to an agency, to even a completely different path. But whatever you are going to be doing, make sure you love it.

Having a successful career is something everyone strives for, so remembering some tips from the pros should help along the way.

Special thanks to Lee Weinstein.