In the Age of Social Media, Why PR Should Matter to Businesses, Both Small and Large

Emily Amato

This post is courtesy of Cari Shane and originally appeared on Huffington Post.

I tell my clients all the time that social media is Public Relations' BFF, or as I prefer to call it, BFFL -- "best friend for life."


Consider the following scenario which I have recounted thousands of times over the years to clients ever since social media became an integral part of the PR bragging strategy, a face-changing entity in the world of Public Relations:

If, when I started out in the Public Relations business in 1990, I had landed a business client an interview on, let's say, the 6 o'clock news on the NBC affiliate in Washington, D.C. and low and behold there was a huge accident on the Beltway (not an unlikely scenario) and 65-thousand people missed my client's interview, that would have been it, it would have been a "too-bad" moment. My client's so-called day in the sun, his/her three minutes of fame (three out of a lifetime of "15 minutes of fame," the much touted measurement by Andy Warhol), would have been over. I would have been supportive. I would have told him/her "you were fantastic, you hit all the talking points on which we worked, it's a bummer more people didn't see you, maybe next time people will drive safer during their commute and more people will get home in time to see your next interview."

Fast-forward to 2013 and I will never again have to have this disappointing discussion with a client. And it's all because of social media - PR's BFFL. In the age of social media, though agonizing for commuters, a tie-up on the highway doesn't mean a death sentence for a hard won media landing. Search engines, websites and blogs, social sites (Youtube, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, so on and so on), all allow a media moment to live for more than a lifetime. The 21st Century has given us what our PR forefathers and foremothers prayed for: media moments that can be resurrected as often as the whim strikes, to coincide with a company campaign, a marketing event, a Hallmark holiday, another PR moment, a "fill-in-the-blank here."

Let's focus first and foremost on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and what a media landing does for a company's SEO.

Ken McGaffin who runs the company, Linking Matters, writes, trains and consults on link building, online PR and market research. In a recent post on Search Engine Watch, McGaffin waxes poetic about PR and SEO and makes my heart sing in the process. It's my mantra as a PR person. What the highly respected McGaffin says, I say too. It's not only about the PR moment, it's about what you do with your media moment and what the world of search engines can do for you in return! While I wouldn't say I scream this at my clients (in other words, it wouldn't translate into a text in all caps), I do seriously underline my comments, comments I repeat over and over again - yes, like a broken record.

In his post, McGaffin interviews Ken Deutsch, whom he calls "a seasoned specialist in public affairs." According to McGaffin, Duetsch takes SEO "seriously" which, apparently, is not the norm. Says Duetsch, "many PR people stop at getting media coverage and think their job is done. They get a placement in the New York Times, but they don't follow up to make sure a link is put in. So they're not taking advantage of the SEO side of the story." Note: that link is only one out of many strategies to promote your PR moment.

Here's the really exciting flip side to Deutsch's comment. Mike Cherenson, former Chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and EVP of Success Communications Group says, "public relations professionals are skilled storytellers and content generators and should be a part of every SEO effort ... The future of SEO is not in the technology, it's in the ability to tell stories that readers and Google will find interesting... and that's public relations." In other words, it's not only what SEO can do for your PR, it's what your PR can do for your SEO.

Oh boy, how I love this very Kennedy-esque concept. It's such a great shot in the arm for PR, which unfortunately for budget-strapped medium-sized and small businesses, isn't a priority when it absolutely needs to be.

Let's take a look now at a few other ideas generated by McGaffin that support the need for an uptick in public relations in general by businesses of all sizes.

Continue reading on Huffington Post...

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