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Four reasons to combine media relations and social media

Combining your social and media relations teams saves time and budget. Photo: Flickr via Guy Kawasaki.

In a world where breaking news is most often spotted first on social media before it’s blasted over the airwaves, it is essential to blend your social media and media relations strategies. Just look at the news of Whitney Huston’s death, which broke on Twitter 47 minutes before it was reported in traditional media.

But even in the non-celebrity world, a blend of traditional and social media relations is key to achieving success in both arenas. Here are four reasons why:

Combining your social and media relations teams saves time and budget. When you have individuals from different organizations working on media relations and social media (whether it’s two agencies or an agency and an internal team member), there is often a disconnect. One team can be held up waiting for another team to share content for repurposing or posting. Content creation and maintenance are expedited when PR and social media are handled by the same team. Not to mention, you then have one point of contact for both traditional and social media inquiries.

It’s important to have a common voice. The voice of your company should be consistent across all platforms. Whether it’s a news release or a tweet, the tone and strategy need to be aligned. Most companies have (or at least should have) a social media policy that outlines what can and cannot be shared online; which is often similar to what is allowed to be shared with traditional media.

It’s where your stakeholders look for answers during a crisis. Social media plays a huge role in crisis communications today. Companies must respond immediately in a crisis, and vague media statements don’t always cut it.  When a crisis hits, consumers will turn to social media for answers and your company needs to be able to provide them. Carnival Cruise Lines received much criticism for its decision to “take a break” from posting on its social media pages during the shipwreck of the Costa Concordia in Italy. Unfortunately, you cannot turn off social media. The company received angry comments, complaints and inquiries and is still working to rebuild its reputation.

Social media helps build media relationships. After working with a new reporter on a story, one of the first things I do is follow them on Twitter from both my personal and my client/brand’s account. Doing so helps keep you and your client top of mind, and also invites the reporter to opt-in to updates that might be of interest for future stories. Many reporters spend more time Tweeting or on Facebook than they do on their email, which is usually overloaded.

Angela Hernandez is an account executive at Franco Public Relations Group. You can reach her at (313) 567-5008 or hernandez@franco.com. Follow her on Twitter at @AngelaHernandez.