The insider's guide to using social media for PR

There have been many developments in technology that have altered the way the PR profession does things: the arrival of the mobile phone meant we could always be in the loop; and the adoption of e-mail meant sending press information meant a click, not a stamp.

But nothing has changed the way that PR professionals operate more than the rise of social media.

Social media has single handily made the world more accessible than ever before, and this has broadly affected the PR industry on two levels.

Number one, the need for news has shrunk. Thanks to Twitter, the majority of people already know what is going to be on the news that evening, so the need for PR professionals to give journalists 'the scoop' has lessened, making it increasingly difficult to generate a buzz or keep a story quiet.

Secondly, every person with a Facebook or Twitter account, and indeed camera phone, has the potential to be a journalist. Somebody with a simple blog working from home one day could become one of the leading digital authorities on their subject matter the next. This makes the job of who to target a much more complex process.

Luckily, the pendulum swings both ways. It has never been easier for a PR professional to contact people under the new era of social media. Journalists, competitors, bloggers and editors are merely a few clicks away. And the ability to interact and build relationships with journalists and editors that you would not necessarily meet in person is a very powerful way to gain more coverage for clients. Social media has also given the PR industry the ability to get a story or press release viral in a matter of minutes. The swirling social landscape can take a story to new heights with minimal effort in comparison to the era that went before.

In today's society social media cannot be ignored, whether you operate in the PR industry or otherwise. Your customers and competitors are embracing social media, which means that you need to aswell. Social media is not a nice to have - it's an essential and powerful tool that should be used to maximum effect.  

Social Media needn't be expensive but it must to used correctly. 

MK is a Public Relations agency that specialises in social media.Emailhelp@mkthingshappen.co.uk , visit www.mkthingshappen.co.uk and follow @MKThingshappen

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