Social media is many things, but social media is not PR. It’s no more PR than PR is social media, and here’s why, for those who don’t appreciate the difference.
PR is a practice which helps private and public sector organisations, and individuals, create and build awareness.
Awareness of a brand, a product, a service, a point of view; a place to visit, a means of getting there; something to do or eat which is good for your health; a means to deliver a warning on things that can harm you.
PR works in many ways, utilising all available communication channels to create awareness - print media, broadcast media, sponsorships, speaking platforms, white papers, and social media.
The biggest difference between social media and traditional media is that it puts complete control over content into different hands.
No need for PR professionals to spend hours, sometimes days, trying to find ways to persuade editors and other journalists, programme controllers and producers, to give space or time to a client’s story.
They set up and manage Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other social media accounts, build up their own circulation, and deliver messages in images and words.
The other big difference between PR and social media is that you don’t have to work in PR, and you don’t have to have any real PR knowhow or experience, to be active on social media and reach big audiences.
Reaching an audience is one thing. Sending the right message and having the desired impact is another.
Social media campaigns handled by those without good PR skills can go wrong. When that happens, the fallout on social media can spread quickly to traditional media.
Knowing what to do in situations like this is part of PR, and this is something to think of before choosing who controls your social media campaigns.