Marketing and PR professionals are under a constant pressure to evolve fast and be super creative, even more than their predecessors, thanks to the nature and pace of the digital world. Sawsan Ghanem, Managing Director, Active Public Relations, discusses the need to continuously evolve and adapt simultaneously across all platforms.
You just need to look at the accelerating progress of new applications, social networking forums, state-of-the-art video conferencing, and much more, to understand the unrelenting pressure to stay ahead of the curve.
More and more publications, including newspapers, are going virtual and cancelling their hard copy counterparts for good. Social forums, such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google+ have become the preferred mode of communication amongst us, for personal, business and marketing needs.
To conduct effective and result driven public relations today, you need to be flexible and fast on the uptake, but the key is to know how to utilise different platforms and networks effectively. This may not be a simple exercise, as it involves time, money and a desire to really learn and apply in a targeted and relevant way to client campaigns to ensure they are successful.
There is a skill to offering a client successful social media campaigns, as they are so diverse in application, reach, style, content and tonality. Any small mistake can backfire and yield the communication campaign a failure.
There’s no denying the power you can yield from social media and yet many people continue to undermine it, or sideline it, for many reasons; some don’t understand how it works, some are too scared and some just don’t want to adapt. This is a grave mistake to make as social media is not a passing phenomenon, but rather its one that’s part of the communication fabric and here to stay. You really need to embrace it and understand how it works and how it impacts your target audience, or stakeholders.
If you look at Twitter, adoption is at times slower than Facebook but, nonetheless, it is fast becoming a social media networking force to be reckoned with. Whatever your business communication needs may be, they can be translated and tailored to suit the Twitter style and engage the growing number of businesses networking and connecting with each other on this platform.
There is so much you can do and ways to communicate, as well as chatting to your target audience, you can get widespread publicity for your articles, various developments in real-time, news announcements, achievements, announce and invite people to your seminars, launches, briefings, TV and radio interviews and engage them in competitions – the list is endless.
A really important tactic is to follow and study the thought leaders, experts and even the competition in your industry. There’s nothing wrong in getting a few tips from those who know how to work social media effectively.
Besides just following them, you need to monitor and digest what they are saying and how; understand what makes tick, what interests them and check out the sites they recommend. Learn how to engage them, through common interests, opinions, live dialogue, should they throw a question out to your audiences, and even attend Tweet ups or other gatherings they announce they will be attending on Twitter.
It’s also key to be up to speed with the common references used in various social media platforms, such as RT (retweets), FF (Follow Friday), # (Hashtdags), Tweeps, Post, Tweets and more.
To get an intimate insight into the media, following them on Twitter/Facebook is a valuable activity. Search for the key reporters who are a target for your business and communications. Join and follow their publication accounts and do your homework on what interests them, what they are writing about and get to know them better. By doing so you can then comment on their tweets or posts and refer to their articles, thus building a relationship with them, based on mutual respect.
I believe that most people would agree that Facebook is more straightforward and easier to master. The key here is to spend some time expanding your network. Build relevant relationships; it’s more about quality than quantity and the success of this is based on how many fans really want to engage with your brand in the long-term and are genuinely interested.
Your challenge besides securing those fans is to keep them engaged through interesting and eye grabbing content. You need to differentiate yourself from the competition, through fast-paced and incredibly creative solutions; it’s all about making a noise, but a noise that needs and wants to be heard.
At the end of the day, like any proper marketing plan, you need to manage, coordinate and stay consistent across a number of platforms and not look at each in isolation.
PR’ing your business through social networking doesn’t have to be expensive if you just remember to network and use all the tools available to you in an intelligent way. In fact, it can be a lot of fun, as you become part of the future and the digital social networking crowd and learn to adapt fast to evolving.
If you feel that you don’t have the bandwidth, or the know-how, you can call on the support of social networking experts who spend majority of their time on various platforms. There is no excuse for not getting on-board.
Sawsan Ghanem is the Joint Managing Director of Active PR. She has lived in the Middle East region for the greater part of her life. Sawsan lived and studied in the UK for a few years where she gained her BSc in Chemistry & Management from Kings College, London University and MA in International Business, from Webster Graduate School (London Campus).
Sawsan began her career in PR over 14 years ago, when she caught the PR & Communication bug. She founded Active PR in the summer of 2003 along with Louay Al Samarrai. Sawsan has in-depth experience in strategic PR campaigns, media relations, creative thinking, crisis management and more. She is the SMB Advisor Middle East winner [before the magazine was rebranded SME Advisor] in the category of Admirable Woman Entrepreneur (2008) and she won Arab Entrepreneur of the Year at the SME Advisor Stars of Business Awards 2011.
Rushika Bhatia Editor
Rushika Bhatia is one of the region’s leading commentators on business and current affairs issues. She is the Editor of SME Advisor magazine - the flagship title of CPI Business. She is passionate about infographics – with special emphasis on data, research and statistics. Rushika has a Bachelor’s Degree from Indiana University, USA and is also CIMA qualified.