Is social media more important than PR?

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There’s no denying the power of social media in today’s PR industry. Our Henry recently attended a PRCA seminar in which the trade association claimed that by 2019 PR professionals will no longer be speaking to journalists in the traditional sense; instead, opinion formers and ‘prosumers’ who operate in the digital sphere will be the main focus.

This is a rather radical statement to make, but it does open the question of how imperative social media is to a PR campaign in 2017. The media constantly provides us with examples of Instagram influencers being more impactful to product sales than a full-page review in the supplement of a national newspaper. With mobiles and tablets now accounting for more than half of all online sales made in the UK, it seems the current population is more digital-savvy than ever.

 

Aside from PR, social media allows brands to track and profile their customer – something our client Ted Baker places great importance on. Even major fashion houses are tapping into the power of the social media influencers. Just look at Dolce&Gabbana, which recently invited social stars to take to its runway as opposed to traditional models (as it turns out, most influencers are models-slash-DJs-slash-bloggers-slash-rocket scientists anyway).

 

With this in mind, research undertaken by marketing agency Five by Five and shared by PR Moment suggests the single most important channel for a PR product launch is social media. A massive 74% of senior marketers questioned for the study prioritised this over classic press and PR, email marketing and sales promotion. James Roles, marketing director at Five by Five, explains: “It is because of its ability, via the creation of shareable content and social engagement, to create a groundswell of interest in a brand before it hits the shelves, in a way that no other channel can match”.

 

Social media is certainly a platform LRR and its clients are in tune with. For digital-savvy brands such as B&O PLAY, liaising with social media influencers is a core part of our PR retainer. Even brands with a more traditional PR focus, such as Bisque, Smeg and Ruark, are aware of the power of social media for brand awareness. Over the past year, LRR has been briefed to incorporate a digital focus into its continued PR efforts. Furthermore, for smaller brands and start-ups, such as Smart Polish Pro, building an authentic and credible social media following is key. Smart Polish Pro’s Instagram account has racked up a humungous 85.5k followers, thanks to content shared by celebs such as footballer Daniel Spiller and rally-car TV presenter Alex Legioux.

 

For LRR, however, one cannot operate without the other. A good PR campaign relies on social media. Social media relies on PR strategy. A project without one or the other does not and will not work; the key is to build an integrated campaign.

 

LRR has noticed in particular how important social media is to a product launch, as the power of social relies on its immediacy. Look around you on the train or bus and its highly likely many of your fellow passengers are scrolling through Twitter or Instagram to pass the time. By tapping into a network of influencers ahead of launch day, brands guarantee this immediate consumption of a product to its target audience.

 

In fact, through it’s work with social media influencers Little Red Rooster is in the process of creating its very own ‘collective’ of VIPs (more on that in due course!) In the meantime, LRR has witnessed how successful this is for brands such as B&OPLAY, which benefitted from multiple posts from its own curated collection of social media stars upon launch day. Post-launch, social media continues to give and give through styling opportunities, competitions and those all-important links and hits back to websites.

 

On the other end of the spectrum, classic print (and even digital) media relies heavily on its audience; it knows that its readers will be interested and already engaged with its content. Fans of Livingetc, for example, have a style they favour; they believe that the products it features on its glossy news pages are the products their home needs. Tech mags such as T3, Stuff or WIRED operate similarly, as these readers are already engaged and have a loyalty to each title. They trust and value it. This is where classic PR comes into its own; PR professionals can target specific titles, however many they may be, and know they are reaching the large majority of a brand’s core demographic. This is how, and why, PR and social media are so in sync with one another. Think of it like Tom and Jerry – they just couldn’t live without each other.

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