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10 expert tips on the use of social media as a public relations tool

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A good marketing strategy for small businesses often includes a number of different components. Public relations, social media, email marketing, blogs and online advertising can all be taken into account. But in some cases, these different categories tend to overlap. This is particularly true with respect to social media and public relations. Social media platforms offer tons of potential benefits for improving PR strategies.

Heather DeSantis knows this mix perfectly. As the founder of Publicity for Good, DeSantis helps leading brands develop their public relations strategies using modern tools and methods, including social media. She recently spoke with Small Business Trends to discuss this balance and share tips for entrepreneurs. Here are some main ideas.

Using Social Media for Public Relations

Find the most relevant news topics

One of the best ways social media can benefit businesses and their marketing has nothing to do with message sharing – it's all about research. Social media gives you a direct insight into the thoughts of your community, your target customers and the world at large. Use it to keep an eye on timely topics that might make your expertise or pitch more attractive for press briefings.

DeSantis said in a phone interview with Small Business Trends, "At any time, it lets you know what's going on in the world and find trending topics that you can use and exploit for your content is more relevant to the media you reach out to. "

Keep an eye on the pain points

Even more specifically, it's a good idea to keep an eye on timely problems that could lead to pain points for potential customers. Some important examples are the seasons like the tax season, where individuals may need advice to understand their returns, or back to the school season where parents have to find bargains on tons of supplies. But you can potentially use social media to find less obvious ways that might be particularly relevant to your business.

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Create a Calendar

In the case of vacations or seasonal topics that you can plan, DeSantis recommends that you create a kind of content calendar that integrates both your public relations and social media strategies. You can share vacation-related posts with your online subscribers while contacting news outlets with season-related pitching. Being prepared in advance can help you master your marketing tasks in these two areas.

Joining Your Social, Content and Public Relations Strategies

In fact, DeSantis says that your social media, your public relations, your content, your emails and other marketing materials may overlap most often. You can create seasonal or timely campaigns that integrate all of these areas so that your marketing is consistent with the customers who follow you in multiple locations. It can also give you cross-promotion opportunities.

Focus locally

Regarding the development of your public relations strategy, DeSantis says that a common mistake she sees in the companies is the desire to take in advance and to immediately win a huge national level. Instead, she suggests focusing first on your local community's press briefings, then moving on to publications related to your industry before moving on to larger names. You can also use social media to connect and build relationships with local publications and influential people in your community.

Position yourself as an expert

PR also offers business owners a great way to position themselves as trusted experts or opinion leaders within an industry by providing feedback or advice to trusted publications or information bodies. By promoting articles or content of this kind on social networks, you can gain even more confidence among your existing subscribers.

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Concentrating your message on your customers

When writing a pitch for news organizations, it is important to better target the message on how it can benefit readers or potential customers rather than what your company does. This approach can also make your content more attractive to followers on social networks.

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DeSantis says, "Look at your brand, your business and your products to find key message points – three or four things that represent your entire business you want to talk about. This should be deeper than just selling products. This should include how your solution can really impact your end users. "

Boost Your Content

Once you've got media coverage for your business, social media is a great way to get more visibility for this coverage. Post links and quick descriptions of each article or item so that more people can find out and read about your new products, services or personal expertise.

Generate traffic to your website

In some cases, these two strategies working in tandem may also help you to generate more traffic to your website. When press coverage includes links to your product pages or home page, you can ask your subscribers to check them after reading the article. You could even create a press page on your site that you can regularly redirect to people so that they can see everything that is new in your company's recent initiatives.

Having patience

In PR and social media, patience is a very important part of the process. Both strategies are very useful for companies looking to build solid foundations and gain visibility. But DeSantis warns against the business owners who are expecting tons of additional sales right away. In general, consumers consult or hear a handful of times before deciding to buy. So, if public relations and social media are useful in this area, you must stick to your strategy for a good period of time to see real results.

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