Fear v social media, and your PR campaign strategy

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Businesses have never been more aware of how potentially damaging social media can be to a brand’s reputation. But this shouldn’t put bosses off investing the appropriate time and money to garner great results from online networks.

In many ways social media is something of a dirty word right now. Personal data has become one of the planet’s most valuable resources, and surveillance capitalism is the new buzz word, both of which mean people are looking at platforms like Facebook with increasing distrust, not least given the Cambridge Analytica scandal that has emerged in the last week or so.
For companies this presents a curious challenge. How do you exploit all the potential of social media without being seen as siding with big brother, and monitoring fans and followers in minute detail to ascertain the best ways to get them to spend more money on your products and services?
Perhaps most worryingly, though, this is really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to why firms are growing wary of using social media within a PR campaign strategy.

Who’s side are they on, anyway? 

According to the PRCA’s Digital PR and Communications Report 2017, fear of reputation attacks on social media are causing more and more firms to tone down their online activities, and reduce the role social can play within a wider PR campaign strategy. Many companies are potentially missing out on what social media could offer because of concerns the content they create and distribute could be turned against them.

A question of time 

One potential reason why this may be comes down to time and personnel. The same report suggests that lack of resources is a major issue standing in the way of realising PR campaign strategy goals through social media output. 40% of respondents stated being understaffed was a problem, a further 40% claimed that a lack of budget was the biggest hurdle.
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Without the appropriate cash and man (or woman) power, brands are at risk of launching campaigns that have been ill-conceived and rushed, or cannot be fully realised because of limitations when it comes to available hours to work on the concept. Such circumstances often make campaigns particularly vulnerable to negative attacks and criticism from the public.

In-house vs agency 

We recently looked at the benefits and drawbacks of using in-house public relations and comms compared with bringing in an agency, and one of the key benefits of the former comes down a PR campaign strategy which is integrated across various departments.
Social media output is only becoming more integrated throughout companies, rather than being viewed as the sole responsibility of a dedicated social media team. This doesn’t necessarily mean agencies are out, though. PR agencies have seen a growth in recognition as content creators, with everything from video (10-13% rise) and image (5-11% rise), to text-based content (7-11% rise) being bought from agencies more regularly.
Brands are also expecting more social media outreach from their agency partners, along with digital crisis management. The leading digital services offered by agencies remain somewhat more traditional, though, such as online media relations, social network strategy, and text-based content.

Integrated and outsourced

So what does this mean for brands that understand they need to improve social media efforts in order to tap into the potential good digital comms can offer within a PR campaign strategy?
Without wanting to oversimplify, thanks to the sheer breadth of responsibilities that now fall under the social media banner, and ongoing attempts to integrate this into wider departments, firms should not look to cherry pick individual services from agencies. Instead, it would be much more prudent to bring in a third party to take care of multiple tasks, therefore delivering an integrated solution, which will not be limited by the availability of staff.
 
Speak to the Smoking Gun team