It’s an Instagram world, whether we like it or not. Brand ambassadors, content creators, influencers - all terms and titles we’d never heard of 10 years ago are taking over the PR stage. Social media is a booming business, and it has reached into the PR industry, as it allows brands to directly engage with their target audience and shape their messaging.
There are billions of social media users worldwide - over half the global population, according to Statista. This massive reach offers PR professionals the opportunity to connect with a vast audience and amplify the message of any brand. And influencers are a huge part of this - in fact, Influencer Marketing Hub found that 63% of marketers increased their influencer marketing budgets in 2021. Collaborating with influencers lets brands tap into their large followings, creating trusted relationships with their audiences to promote products or services effectively.
But since social media platforms offer a new level of engagement - basically a direct line from the lips of customers to the ears of even the biggest corporations - audiences now expect more brand participation than ever before. A study by Sprout Social found that 76% of consumers want businesses to respond to their social media messages within 24 hours.
This “direct line” can mean that bad news spreads like wildfire. Social media plays a crucial role in crisis communication and reputation management. Burson-Marsteller found that nearly 80% of crisis communicators believe that social media has made crisis communications more complicated. But it also allows brands to address issues proactively, respond to customer concerns, and manage crises in real time, minimizing potential damage to their reputation.
It’s clear that social media marketing is here to stay. And given its growth, staying in control of your brand’s message is more crucial than ever before. With social media platforms, it can be tough to keep control and shape the narrative around your organization’s messaging.
But it’s not about chasing your message. It’s about strategically managing your PR efforts to ensure your message is effectively communicated to your target audience. We have rounded up some practical strategies and tips to help you stay in control of your PR message without feeling overwhelmed.
The first step in maintaining control of your PR message is to clearly define what you want to communicate. Take the time to craft a compelling message that aligns with your brand's values, objectives, and target audience. Your message should be concise, consistent, and resonate with your stakeholders.
Once you’ve established a clear message, you can provide a foundation for all your PR efforts and make sure that everyone involved is on the same page. For example, you can conduct internal training sessions or workshops to educate your team members about the message and its importance. That way you’ll know that everyone understands the key talking points, knows how to articulate them effectively, and remains consistent in their messaging across various platforms.
Know who you’re talking to. Understanding your target audience is essential for effective PR messaging. You’ll need to know who they are, what they want, how they shop, what their budget is, and how you can best engage with them.
How do you figure this out? You’ll need to conduct thorough research to identify who your audience is, what they care about, and how they consume information. Do you have a young, digitally-friendly audience who uses TikTok regularly? Is your audience older, preferring to stick to Facebook? These are things you need to find out.
Know your audience. That’s how you can tailor your messaging to address their specific needs and interests. This targeted approach will help you stay in control of your PR message by knowing that it’s going to reach the right people in the most impactful way.
Instead of constantly playing catch-up with the PR narrative, it's time to take the reins and proactively shape your own story. Start by laying out a solid PR strategy that encompasses your key messages, identifies the media outlets you want to target, and sets a clear timeline for execution. This proactive approach allows you to stay ahead of the game and be prepared for any challenges or issues that may come your way.
When crafting your key messages, ensure they align with your brand's values and resonate with your target audience. Take the time to develop compelling and concise messages that effectively communicate your unique value proposition. By doing so, you establish a strong foundation for your PR efforts and provide a clear direction for all your communication activities.
To maintain control over your PR message, build relationships with the media. Yes, be nice to the newspaper people. Take the time to identify journalists and media outlets that cover topics relevant to your industry or niche. Establish partnerships by providing these media professionals with valuable insights, expert opinions, or exclusive content.
It goes back to being proactive. Don’t wait for journalists to come interview you about a big scandal (let’s hope you don’t have any!) - be proactive about engaging with the media. That lets you increase the likelihood of positive coverage and make sure that your message is accurately represented.
Get social. It’s a digital age - so keep up with it. Social media is massively important when it comes to shaping public perception and controlling PR messages. What you look like on social media is how you look to your audience - especially the younger and more tech-savvy members.
Establish a strong social media presence on platforms that are most relevant to your target audience. This goes back to doing your homework. If your brand appeals to the young digitally-minded customer, think TikTok ads. If your products are geared toward the homemaker, maybe consider a stronger Pinterest focus. And et cetera.
Use these channels to share your message, engage with your followers, and address any concerns or questions. Social media also provides an opportunity to monitor conversations and respond promptly, allowing you to stay in control of your PR narrative in real-time.
To stay in control of your PR message, it's important to keep a finger on the pulse of your brand's presence in the media and online. Use media monitoring tools to track and analyze mentions of your brand or organization in various media outlets. This includes traditional print and broadcast media as well as online news sources and social media platforms. Paying attention to these mentions helps you gauge the overall perception of your brand and identify any emerging trends or issues that require your attention.
In addition to monitoring media coverage, it's crucial to actively listen to social media conversations surrounding your brand. Keep an eye on comments, reviews, and mentions on platforms like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and LinkedIn. These channels provide valuable insights into public sentiment, allowing you to understand how your brand is being perceived and address any concerns or issues in a timely manner.
Regular evaluation and measurement of your PR activities are key to staying in control of your message. Set specific goals and metrics to track the success of your message dissemination efforts. This can include monitoring website traffic, engagement metrics on social media, media reach, and sentiment analysis. As you analyze this data, you can assess the effectiveness of your PR campaigns, identify areas for improvement, and make data-driven decisions to optimize your strategy.
Transparency is a fundamental element in maintaining control over your PR message. When faced with challenges or negative publicity, you absolutely have to respond with honesty, openness, and a sincere willingness to address the issue at hand. Being transparent demonstrates a commitment to accountability and lets you build trust with your audience.
Part of this is being prepared to be the first to reach out. (Yes, being proactive, again.) Keep your stakeholders informed by providing regular updates, clarifications, or corrective actions whenever necessary. If you’re taking the initiative to address concerns head-on, you’re showing that you are actively engaged and committed to resolving any issues that may arise.
Your audience will respond best to true authenticity, and this helps in shaping the public perception of your brand. If you find yourself needing to address challenges or even negative publicity, be as clear and genuine as possible. Don’t throw out vague or evasive language. Instead, be super direct and sincere as you explain your situation. This is how you can build credibility and reinforce your commitment to transparency, and that allows your audience to truly trust you.
Keeping tabs on your PR message is a constant effort, not a one-time deal. You don’t have to chase it, as long as you’re willing to be vigilant and responsive, and adapt to emerging issues and feedback from your audience.
It is possible to effectively navigate challenges and maintain control over your brand’s narrative. But you have to work at it. Monitor the media landscape. Stay informed about public sentiment. Be attuned to the needs and expectations of your stakeholders.
Remember that transparency, proactivity, and authenticity are the cornerstones of successful PR message management. Transparency fosters an environment of openness and honesty, so that your audience perceives your brand as trustworthy and reliable. Proactivity lets you stay ahead of potential issues, address concerns before they escalate, and take decisive action to maintain control over your narrative. And authenticity keeps your communication genuine, allowing it to resonate with your audience on a deeper level and strengthening your brand's reputation.
You can use these tools to actively shape public perception and influence the narrative surrounding your brand. Remember, it's an ongoing process that requires dedication and adaptability, but the rewards in terms of brand reputation and stakeholder trust are well worth the effort.
Imperium Group is an American public relations and marketing consultancy firm. Founded in 2016, it specializes in guaranteed placements, creating utmost transparency for its clients. Imperium Group generates over 15M impressions a month for its clients. Its team is based out of New York, Dallas, and Los Angeles.
For more information about Imperium Group, please see https://navigator.imperiumgrouppr.com/.