Now daily tasks of many public relations departments are evolving to encompass social media

/ Dallas, TX Public relations professionals may be skilled at crafting press releases, but when it comes to social media, many are navigating uncharted waters. Social media is no longer just a way for friends and family to interact and share photos. Today social media is at the heart of companies’ public relations and marketing initiatives.

So what does an integrated public relations and social media campaign look like? For many businesses it starts with simply developing profiles and pages on relevant networking sites. The relevancy of sites like Twitter, Facebook, MySpace or LinkedIn will be determined by examining a companies best customers, then selecting only social networking sites where these customers reside. For example, if a company does not deal with music or entertainment then MySpace should not be utilized as a business building tool.

Once relevant networks are determined and profiles filled out completely with links back to the company website, photos and logos, contact information and more, then public relations and social media can begin their journey together. A smart move in making social networks known is to put links from the homepage of your website and in all employees email signatures to the newly created networks. Public relations agencies will want to ensure that not only online marketing mentions the social networks, but that print collateral like fliers, business cards and advertising also points people to the companies social media profiles.

What drives social media is two fold – original content and interaction with connections. Original content can come in the form of blog entries, press releases, photos or surveys. When public relations agencies craft blogs and press releases for use on social media channels, writing the headline may be the most important piece. Headlines should be less than 140 characters so they can be shared as a status update and contain the topic of the article along with keywords. It is this original content that will draw in connections and foster interaction within the social communities.

In addition to its use for connecting with potential customers, social media can also be used in public relations for connecting with media outlets. Many trade publications, magazines and bloggers run Twitter accounts or Facebook pages for their news source. As a company utilizing social media in public relations, these news sources should be connected with. Once connections are established, do not immediately pitch a source on a story about your company. Instead take time to build a relationship and allow the new source to view you as a resource for future stories. Most magazines and trade publications know in advance what stories they plan to write so feel free to ask if they plan on covering any topics your business falls in to, then offer to contribute.

Public relations and social media will continue to become more intertwined as marketing categories as time progresses. Public relations agencies must adapt to social media trends and learn how to harness the power of social networking to stay competitive.

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