Social Media: The ‘Real-Time’ Game Changer

The last decade has witnessed the rise of social media in an unprecedented way, more so in India. Facebook has nearly 270 million users in India – which is more the population of several European countries put together. Platforms like Whatsapp, which are considered alternatives to texting in India, have penetrated much more in the country.

The disruption of social media goes beyond just personal life. It has also reshaped the way companies, brands and personalities communicate. Today, people look to social media for real-time news updates rather than switching on their television or checking a newspaper.

The shift in patterns of news consumption has also created a change in the way companies share their news. 

News is simultaneously released to different stakeholders today. The press release is still used, but it is often hosted on the company’s website, accompanied by video messages, infographics and other visual content. The news is also shared on the company’s Twitter and other social media platforms, sharing the same message in different ways. 

Naturally, companies look to social media first to target specific audiences and capture new ones. The brand DNA is communicated more effectively through social media + PR than either entity by itself. The result is a more aware and engaged audience coupled with increased loyalty.

Impact on PR

Social media has impacted communications across all forms. The incredible amount of content streaming across platforms makes it imperative that the content generated is timely, relevant and impactful. 

‘Moment Marketing’ was one of the biggest trends of 2019 on social media. The stories/news generated from social media become media stories. A memorable example from 2019 was the #RahulBoseMoment: Where noted actor Rahul Bose tweeted a bill of Rs. 442.50 for two bananas. 

While several brands jumped on the bandwagon listing the things you could buy for Rs. 442.50, the hospitality chain had to deal with the PR crisis. 

Of course, we are all familiar with the power of social media to create stories. Influencers have been a critical part of brand strategies for a few years now – and they operate primarily through their social channels.

But the relationship between PR and Social Media becomes more critical in times of crisis. A mere clarification press release is no longer sufficient to drive home the message. Social media campaigns have to be driven with PR campaigns to ensure the reputation is managed well. 

Content Is King

PR stories are no longer about just text. A pitch mail is not a generic mail asking if the journalist wants to do an interview. We pitch well-thought out stories, accompanied by good content.

Visual communication is an integral part of public relations. You no longer pitch a whole brand. You pitch a particular story – well-thought, edited, visual communication pieces supported by multiple forms of media: videos, infographics, slideshows. 

Content marketing websites are an essential tool in PR. These sites, each of which has a unique DNA, help reach specific audience sets, conveying a well-shaped story. Single stories of a brand that might not be editorially viable.

The content you share on social media is also being watched by various news websites and content marketing sites. The ‘social first’ strategy was used effectively by our team to attract the attention of popular news websites, who approached found the content engaging and interesting and approached the brand to do a story.

However, the company needs to have the right balance in news dissemination. Social platforms can be used to build relationships across industries and reach new stakeholders. However, as Dave Willis said, “Don’t use social media to impress people; use it to impact people.”

Author: Niyathi Shetty,

Senior Management Associate, Pepper Interactive Communications

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