Ask James Caan – Issue 104
Embracing emerging technologies is something that affects many people in various professional fields, and in today’s environment, it’s a quality that can distance you from the competition.
Ensuring you are confident with new developments not only can add value to your clients, but it helps to increase your ‘employability’, and therefore strengthens your transferrable skills.
Identifying that you need to adopt new ways of working can sometimes be a daunting task, however, it’s something that’s crucial if you wish to develop business or impress an employer.
Take this letter from Suzanne, for instance:
‘I work within the field of PR and have experienced the huge shift towards extensive use of social media. I’m in my mid 40’s and although I use social media, I want to know if I am using it to its full capacity. Any advice on what I can do to improve would be really valuable’.
Suzanne, you raise a very interesting issue. Public Relations has, and continues, to be transformed by the changing media landscape. As a PR professional you will know that there are is an uprising of new techniques available, social media being the most prominent.
You say that you use social media to some extent, however, aren’t specific as to which platforms and your level of competence. This being the case, I will speak broadly on the topic, in the hope that some of the advice I give will be of use to you and others.
Because PR is primarily concerned with reputation, social media is an obvious tool. You are able to produce messages for large-scale audiences and once it goes out it is on a fully interactive level. While this can be hugely beneficial, you have no real control over what is being said, so you must be ready to deal with any criticism. It’s about being transparent; instead of blocking negative feedback you need to embrace it and address issues openly.
Twitter is an obvious platform for PR. By following journalists you are able to see what they are tweeting about and tailor your message to what’s already on trend. It’s worth remembering, as well, that nowadays the lines between the layman’s observation and the professional journalist has become, somewhat, blurred. Influence is in the hands of anyone who can get their point across to a substantial and engaged audience. This is why it’s worth following and interacting with people with high influence to increase your reach and exposure. One tool you can use to ascertain this is Klout score, for instance.
Let’s look at another platform. When it comes to Facebook, you can really make use of the visual entity. If your client is involved in CSR projects, ensure to include photos on the wall to show the hard work they are putting in for their communities. This will of course help boost brand exposure and will speak volumes to various stakeholder groups.
As with any tool/technique you use, in order to ascertain its value you must set realistic metrics. You must ensure the tactics you employ – whether that’s recording retweets or measuring the reach of your press releases – help you to achieve your long term objectives.
While it’s easy to get swept up in the social media storm, it isn’t an outright replacement for traditional methods. It’s a complementary tool and when used correctly it can result in a highly effective synergy, which will work to the advantage of your client.