Social Media is the “secret weapon” of PR

In an interesting video blog this week, Heather Whaling of prTini shared an interesting video blog discussing how she believes social media is PR’s “secret weapon.”

Whaling feels social media “helps us build better media lists…and better relationships with reporters.” She believes you can use social media tools like Twitter to spot trends and changes early on. Spotting trends early on can help create new PR opportunities, and strengthen our relationships with both reporters and clients.

As we discussed this past week, PR’s relationship with the media is very important. Developing strong relationships with the press is part of proactive public relations. By doing so, you help “to create a sustained, strategic media presence. You need to focus on proactively pitching story ideas, creating news opportunities and offering yourself (or your client) as a resource.”

Whaling’s PR firm, Geben Communications, focuses much of its efforts on staying connected with the media through what she jokingly calls “Twitter stalking.” You have to make sure you’re following the right people and really staying connected to those with whom you’re trying to build relationships.

Also relating to our book discussion, she noted a great example of how a company can use social PR to supplement traditional PR. In a unique take on the traditional press release, marketing software company Hubspot announced its acquisition of social media marketing company OneForty via traditional/social media news release hybrid.

Using the hashtag #Hub140 and a “Tweet This” link, Hubspot broke its press release into a series of 13 tweets, seen here. I thought this was a brilliant example of our discussion of how the SMR is more of a press release accoutrement than its substitute.

Hubspot still used traditional press release jargon, but they made each excerpt easy-to-read and Tweetable. By doing so, they reportedly had over 800 Tweets using their #Hub140 hashtag, 2,700 clicks to the short URLs in the Tweets, and got coverage in the Wall Street Journal and TechCrunch magazine.

This, my friends, is the future. I wouldn’t be surprised if more companies started using this tactic for their news releases.

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