While casually perusing a website that does occasionally throw up some interesting articles, www.entrepreneur.com, I came across an interesting one this morning titled ‘Here’s how Facebook has reduced the need to pay PR’. Well, in the spirit of healthy debate my colleagues and I felt compelled to react.
While it may be true that social media platforms such as Facebook do provide a free platform for DIY marketing and public relations, it is inaccurate to suggest that they reduce the need for traditional PR. In fact, they are just another tool in the box for PR firms such as ourselves; like anything they have their uses but are not always an appropriate platform for certain announcements and campaigns. This is where the expertise of PR firms come into their own, we know when to use social media, and when to utilise the more traditional means of communications. The consultancy aspect of PR services is quite irreplaceable, and of utmost importance in making the most of your planned campaign.
To directly respond to the aforementioned article, let’s look at the first point which suggests that there is a lack of loyalty to individual news sources. Yes, perhaps there may be, due to social media offering us a wealth of reading material, but surely that is a positive thing. Being exposed to more news sources rather than sticking to your one daily newspaper gives readers a broader sense of perspective, gives them a more balanced view of the world and its politics, and makes them more likely to see your story. A traditional PR firm knows this and has a strong base of media contacts which they will fire out your story to, in a selective manner of course, which therefore makes your story much more likely to appear in Joe Public’s Facebook news feed. The idea that the increased number of media outlets would dilute the effectiveness and appeal of each individual story is quite frankly unfounded; if everyone is talking about something, is it not then more interesting?
Being able to get stories onto social media is important, so that’s why we at Crystal PR do help our clients in setting up and using their own social media channels effectively when needed. If we see a client with a strong social media presence that is very good news for us, as it means that hopefully their campaign success has the potential to be multiplied by the ability to re-tweet and share their own success.
And for a more controversial argument, believe it or not, not everybody uses social media (gasp!). The benefits of Facebook advertising are endorsed in the article to which we refer, suggesting that Facebook advertising is more cost efficient than a traditional PR service. But, though it might reach a large audience, it’s not targeted enough and many interested parties don’t use social media. Take business PR for example, some announcements might be suitable for social media but actually it mostly lends itself to the more traditional means of print and online copy in magazines, journals and newspapers. The sort of people who might be interested in these stories range from social media users to non-social media users, and it is important that the story hits all right targets.
Interestingly, a recent study in the journal Journalism Studies, by the professor Neil Thurman of the University of Munich and City University London has revealed that British consumers of news spend a good 40 minutes a day on average taking in the content of a print newspaper, as opposed to the mere 30 seconds a day which they tend to spend on apps and online. On this basis, he suggests that PR firms need not give up on traditional print mediums because of the audience they attract and the attention the readers pay to their newspaper.
In conclusion, though social media has its usefulness it will never deteriorate the need for ‘traditional’ public relations services, to include professional copy-writing, personalised consultancy, a large book of contacts and an ethical and strategic approach to building positive relationships with stakeholders. In a world where so-called ‘fake news’ is an emerging theme, there is in fact more of an argument for using PR firms who know exactly what they are doing, and, from a consumer’s perspective, not just to rely on your social media newsfeed for all your updates.