How PR and Social Media Can Work Together

December 6, 2010

Social media and PR seem like natural allies. Both are primarily focused on brand awareness, credibility building and image enhancement. Both are critical tools for dealing with bad news or crisis situations. Both require relationships with influential people in one’s industry to be effective. And both rely on the ability to tell an interesting story.

So why do corporate PR and social media efforts so often appear disconnected and out of sync? To be sure, some agencies and companies get it, and do an effective job integrating social media and PR efforts. But many organizations in both groups still treat the functions as separate silos—or worse, mix them awkwardly, damaging both efforts.

But integrated properly, social media can help amplify PR efforts, and effective PR can help generate social media coverage. It’s a virtuous circle that looks something like this.

Making PR and Social Media Work Together

In this example, a press release is distributed online, posted to the company’s Facebook and Twitter updates, and used to create a social media release (using a tool such as PitchEngine). Any significant online news site pickups of the release are posted to Twitter (it’s okay to repeat news a few times on Twitter as not all of your followers will see all of your tweets, just don’t overdo this) and to social bookmarking sites.

For SEO and traffic purposes, the press release and social media release link back to the company’s website/blog. The social media release also links back to the company’s LinkedIn and Twitter accounts.

The social media release is used for blogger outreach. Since many (most?) bloggers are overwhelmed with pitches and unlikely to write about the company’s press release, the company uses the press release as a hook and offers to write a (informational, non-promotional) guest post on the topic. When a blogger publishes a guest post from the company, that post gets linked in the company’s LinkedIn groups, Facebook page, Twitter and social bookmarking sites. These links send more traffic to the blog (which the blogger likes) and spread the company’s fame.

Likewise, any other blog or media coverage, or bylined articles by the company, are shared via social media sites. Bylined articles will—and other blog/media coverage may—include backlinks to the company’s website/blog as well. And the website/blog includes social sharing buttons, making it easier for site visitors to share the company’s content with their connections across popular social networks.

PR and social media can also be used together to promote events, speaking opportunities, corporate presentations, video and other content.

Social media and PR can both be used to influence journalists and other influencers online. Smart companies and agencies are putting this together.

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21 Responses

  1. Great post! That graph is just perfect for explaining how they can connect so organically. Disjointed efforts definitely harm each other, while a combined campaign will bring solid results.

  2. Interesting post – FYI I picked it up through the B2B Marketing Zone feed into my Reader, so you’re clearly practicing what you’re preaching!

  3. Tom 

    Thanks Rene, and that’s the point – it all works together. :-)

  4. Tom 

    Thanks Lauren! Glad you found the diagram helpful. Just like the old days of integrated marketing campaigns with TV, print and direct mail, today’s marketing and PR efforts have to work together online. And social media is a key component of that.

  5. Thanks for the post. I think it highlights the importance of using combinations in marketing. Treating each medium as a stand alone item can lead to your PR and social media statements not matching, among other things. Very useful to make sure different things are working together.

  6. PR for some markets like B2B might be not so easy but for informational, news and focused in B2C it’s great and very easily to get prospects using this strategy.

  7. Tom 

    Thanks for the comment Renan, but PR is critical in many b2b markets. The niche industry trade press still has a lot of influence with buyers, so spreading the word about new products and services and other news through PR is a vital tactic.

  8. Luke 

    I am a little embarrassed to admit that although I realized a symbiotic relationship between PR and Social Media, I didn’t quite see their connection as being this strong. The diagram you included really drives the point home and makes you take a second look at what you are doing today. I thing as we move forward and Social Media takes a strong hold on the mainstream, the relationship between Social Media and PR will become even stronger.

  9. Tom 

    I completely agree Luke. :-)

  10. I agree with Luke’s comment. The diagram you include is a great way to illustrate just how important these tools are to each other and to web marketing as a whole

  11. Colin 

    This is basically a link wheel, is it not? Rather elaborate though. Wouldn’t it take quite a bit of time to actually implement this process? On the other hand, maybe serious marketers with a staff can afford to do such advanced strategies.

  12. Tom 

    There’s a bit more to it than that. As for the time required, it depends on the size and type of business. If PR is a key part of the strategy, then the effort is worthwhile, whether done internally or outsourced.

  13. Yes it does work. I have found that posting consistently and with good content on our blog is key to keeping high on website and keyword rankings.

  14. a really interesting post… we all should take this relationship between p.r. and social media into account, however i would add seo to this equation too…

  15. Tom 

    Sure – but once you add SEO to social media and PR, you pretty much end up with web presence optimization: :-)

  16. Thank you for the PichEngine link. I do not know the company before.

  17. Currently, all our blog posts (about many different subjects) get posted to our company Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn pages, with a link to the post in question.

    We use to do this, the posts are automatically distributed.

    Rather than just regurgitating the content like this, should we be using something like PitchEngine also and then linking to what’s created with that via our Twitter feed?

    Thanks for the post, very informative.

  18. Tom 

    Hi Stephen, thanks for the comment. Though it’s had a few stumbles, I like PitchEngine for creating “social” news releases. I don’t use it for everything, but selectively for “big news,” particularly new product releases or significant updates. I believe it works best when there is a visual component to the story – a product photograph, software screenshots, or a related video. Hope that helps!

  19. Social media did seem to be changing the way companies approach consumers. However, it is imperative for every company out there to understand that any social media communication should be aligned with the company’s positioning and as result any and every marketing effort including PR.

  20. Gary 

    You know, I’ve figured out that I’m one of those people who you give a hammer and then everything else seems like a nail. I looked at your diagram (excellent, by the way) and immediately started considering its SEO ramifications.

  21. Tom 

    Makes sense Gary! Mix PR, social media and SEO, and you get web presence optimization.

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