With digital and mobile users on the rise, consumers are not only demanding short blurbs of information, but also real-time updates and immediate responses.
According to a study conducted in July 2015 by the Pew Research Center, 63% of both Twitter and Facebook users said each platform served as a source for news events, which has increased significantly over the past couple of years.
Take for example this year’s Super Bowl, 15.2 million people in the US took to Twitter for minute-by-minute updates on the game. More specifically 3.8 million people or “authors” reported on the game via the social network. From advertisement and halftime show reactions to updates on the player’s performance, Super Bowl 50 had on average 52,000 tweets per minute. (Nielsen, 2016)
Consumers are not the only ones turning to social media for information – so is the media. There has been an increase in reporters turning to social networks for news story ideas.
So what should public relations professionals and their clients do to keep up with and leverage this real-time mentality?
Capitalize on current news.
Know your audience well and what trending topics are pertinent to them at that given time. Take for instance the Kinetic Analysis Corporation, a company that assesses and predicts the cost of catastrophic incidents in the United States, and the Avengers. When the comic book movie came out, the company provided news sources with what the havoc would cost – a whopping $2 trillion. They even compared it to actual attacks and disasters that happened in US history, treating it as if it was a real news story.
Know your industry well and position yourself as an expert. Use current news stories and new information to act as a resource to that target audience. For example, say your brand sells mattresses and there is a new study that just came out in the New York Times on how a good night’s sleep is the best thing that busy professionals can get to feel refreshed. You will want to repurpose it on your social media pages and perhaps even respond through media pitches to other outlets or by crafting blog posts.
Go where your audience is.
If consumers and journalists are heading to social media for live news updates and story ideas, use your own pages to reach them. Follow relevant journalists on Twitter in order to monitor for story idea requests, as well as to interact with their posts, making you more memorable when you do reach out. Similarly, by sharing these news stories with the media via social media, you will also be sharing them with their followers directly.
Engage in social listening.
Social listening means looking online and across social channels to see what others are saying about your organization, your competitors and other relevant topics. Be sure to set up monitoring to ensure you are staying up to date on what’s being said. Also, respond to requests on your own social media pages in a timely manner by replying, liking and retweeting/sharing posts that come into your page or mention your organization. Social media is “always on” so you should be too, constantly monitoring and responding. Remember, unhappy customers can broadcast to your followers at any time, by taking these measures you can make it easier to respond in real time.
Be flexible, but be smart.
Perhaps most importantly, don’t be afraid to leave the posting plan at your desk. Using your posting plan as a guide, live tweet and post on other social media outlets while at events or after conducting social listening that day. With that being said, be smart. You don’t need to react to everything and should take caution as to not exploit sensitive events and to stay relevant. The point of utilizing current events and news is to add value – if it won’t add value, you may be better off leaving it out.
Overall, modern PR is demanding that professionals and their clients function in real time. It’s important to adapt and recognize how you can add value to the conversation and react quickly. As PRNewsire states, #PRisNow.
– By Jillian Kanter, Account Executive & Client Operations Coordinator