With the new age of advertising progressively going towards the more digital approach, businesses must utilise initiatives in order to keep up with trends and stay competitive. The rise of social media within business is one of the most evident and apparent of these trends. The use of social media in business is one of the most effective ways to build a presence online by increasing brand awareness and increasing traffic by directing consumers to the website (Brown, 2012). However, social media is a very broad term and can be broken down into many different aspects, so, in this blog the subject aims at the initiative of how Online PR can assist in building content which will entice consumers towards the business.
Modernisation of PR
Veghes (2016), suggests that the internet has altered the path of PR and hypothesizes that ‘online communication makes use of a social and communication pattern in which ‘organizations communicate informally, interactively, and horizontally’. This suggests that the approaches that business take nowadays can be more informal and personal to the customer and this is highlighted when looking at PR strategies on social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
How effective online PR can be achieved
Communication with consumers on an open platform is a free way of both directly communicating and delivering content tailored to the specific target market. Scott (2016), explains that tailoring content to the wants and needs of a consumer can help both drive sale and raise visibility. He sets the premise that there are three main steps which must be considered when developing online PR;
- Setting Goals: Goals which the business wishes to achieve specifically through the use of the PR.
- Identifying a target audience: Targeting the specific people whom they believe to be potential consumers.
- Profiling buyer personas: identifying specific groups of people within the target audience in order to identify more specific ways to communicate with them.
The concept of profiling buyer personas is described as being a method of grasping exactly what specific groups of buyers want from the business and by profiling them, it is easier to help a company improve its overall message, appeal to its target audience and continue to raise visibility on social media platforms (Hughes, 2017).
An example of how content can be specifically tailored to the wants and needs of a target audience is one of the many betting companies which operate PR schemes on most social media platforms. They usually adopt the style of viral and humorous sports content, which ties in with the betting aspect of their business as the content usually parallels current events occurring in the world of sport. Martin Hynes, a social media support team leader at PaddyPower, describes their online PR strategy as a proactive way of dealing with customers as well as pushing relevant content out there. Their social media feed also acts as a real-time news feed regarding sport and ‘caters for the curious and speculative punter’ (McKinlay, 2017). this also relates to Veghes’ point which consumer relations in the modern age can be more informal than traditional methods, but more importantly interactive.
Balancing the odds
Although utilising a busy free platform seems a no-brainer, there are certain drawbacks which must be taken into consideration. Social media is a real-time platform and needs to be monitored daily in order to work. If a profile isn’t managed properly then it may not achieve the goals which it was set out to achieve. Also, content must be prepared carefully as if it is deemed as offensive or inappropriate, then this may reflect badly on the business.
On the contrary, some of the many benefits of using social media include the exposure it can give the business. This can come in the form of increased sales, increased traffic towards websites or international exposure. It also allows for much more personal and direct customer engagement and of course helps reduce marketing costs.
Overall, it seems to be more advantageous to utilise social media PR as a way of reaching goals, but only if it is executed properly.
- Hughes, D. (2018). The Beginner’s Guide to Defining Buyer Personas. [online] Digital Marketing Institute. Available at: https://digitalmarketinginstitute.com/blog/2017-4-27-the-beginners-guide-to-defining-buyer-personas [Accessed 25 Feb. 2018].
- McKinlay, R. (2018). Confessions of a social media manager: Paddy Power on acting as a news feed, Oasis, and Donald Trump’s manhood. [online] Prweek.com. Available at: https://www.prweek.com/article/1425978/confessions-social-media-manager-paddy-power-acting-news-feed-oasis-donald-trumps-manhood [Accessed 25 Feb. 2018].
- Scott, D.M. 2015, The new rules of marketing & PR: how to use social media, online video, mobile applications, blogs, news releases, and viral marketing to reach buyers directly, Fifth edn, Wiley, Hoboken, New Jersey.
- Veghes, I. 2016, “Online PR in the EU. A Study about Online Communication in Public Relations”, Styles of Communication, vol. 8, no. 2, pp. 62-80.