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The Role Of Public Relations In The Digital Age

In PRMR Inc.’s second podcast we discussed the role of public relations in the digital age.  I felt a sense of déjà vu as I discussed some of the concepts because I remembered similar discussions on the role of PR in the broadcast age, when radio and television started demanding greater accountability from companies.  The Internet, especially social media has intensified the pressure on companies to be responsive to customers and more importantly, be good corporate citizens.  

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There is no other function within an organization that can carry out this task as efficiently as public relations.  Therefore I see public relations playing an even greater, more important, strategic role within companies in this digital age.  Here are my views:

1. What role do you think Public Relations plays in today's digital world and why is it important for modern businesses?

The role public relations plays in this digital era is the same as its traditional role, but more intense.  Radio and television, for example, demand consistent monitoring and feedback, however, this type of media is manufactured.  It has gone through a production process that we have been schooled in public relations classes and seminars to deal with.  The digital era has empowered everyone.  Traditional media outlets are no longer true gatekeepers as anyone can start a blog and post a note on a company or person online.  Public relations' reputational management role is therefore more critical in this digital age.

2. Can social media play an integral part in how successful companies undertake their Public Relations strategies?

Yes social media can play an integral role in a successful public relations strategy.  A number of traditional managers think that social media is not for them.  They see it merely as a nuisance, an avenue for persons to complain.  However, I welcome complaints.  The persons who complains directly to you about your service truly care about you and want to continue using your service.  You have to be weary of the persons who do not complain to you or make complaints on different platforms where you are not.  Social media gives you a unique opportunity to solve problems in real time and give information in real time.  The forward-looking company would capitalise on this instead of hiding.  Because you are not on social media that does not mean that the complaints about you are not.

3. How important is using CRM software such as Hubspot to track what is being said about your brand online and using that information to turn negative stories into wins for your company?

Until you have used software like Hubspot you cannot fully appreciate it. It is awesome.  The intelligence and the online power that comes with these tools are indescribable.  It takes your organization into a different online realm once utilised correctly.  You would have the power to track and respond to issues before they become crises.  It also gives you the opportunity to flip an issue to a leadership position.  You know what your competitors are doing from the moment they post an idea online.  Without a proper CRM you are operating in the dark and playing catch up instead of being the industry leader.

4. What are some of the biggest pitfalls when practising PR in the online world?

I would say not adapting to the different platforms.  We try to make one message fit all platforms and that does not work.  All of them are different and have their own peculiarities.  To be successful companies have to take the time to craft the message for the platform just like we do for traditional media.  We write a radio script different to a press release so why should we write the same post for Twitter as we do for Facebook?  Writing format matters.

5. Any tips you would like to leave on some good Public Relations best practises to engage in this year on social media.

In terms of a PR best practices I would say listen to all the conversations happening online on all platform and respond with well plan, strategic messages.  You want to be the one leading the conversations not chasing issues. 



Listen to our podcast on the role of Public Relations in the digital age.



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