Why a focus on social media quick wins undermines the value of PRs

Are the quick wins of social media threatening the value of PR? Expat public relations consultant Katie Clift argues favouring short term results over longer term strategies is a mistake for PRs and their clients.

There’s no doubt that the rapid rise of social media over the past decade (on endless platforms I can’t keep up with, if I’m totally honest… where’s the button for IGTV again?!) has had a dramatic and lasting impact on public relations.

Greater connectivity, viral posts, videos and comments, an ever-changing rapid news cycle, endless analytics – the landscape of ‘media’ has adapted and developed in a remarkable way.

But I’ve had cause to consider lately whether the rise of social media, with its ‘quick wins’, has actually threatened the value of public relations – or at least the perception of its value.

I’ve worked as a PR consultant internationally for many years, and I’ve always seen the platform and inclusion of social media as a powerful partner to good PR.

But I wonder whether the fact-paced nature of the social media beast – instant engagement, 24/7 comments, likes and shares, ‘quick wins’, impressive, extensive digital reach numbers that continually climb – has created the perception that quick social wins sometimes outweigh long-term media investment.

Sure, PR is about short-term results as well as long-term – I believe a great campaign delivers, and delivers well, in both categories. But I fear a tendency to win short-term media gratification may undermine one of the greatest aspects of good public relations: continued, consistent, long-term building of an individual or organisation’s reputation.

I believe we need both – quick wins, and perhaps a fresh understanding that PR is a commitment for the long-haul. I want to help those I work with think beyond the short-term public perception wins of the week, or the month, or even the year – to grasping the value of great relations with their publics over a period of many years.

I ask clients the question: how do you want the general public, your clients, news outlets, government representatives – to view you and your business today – next year – and five years from now? Strategic public relations helps companies invest in activities to position themselves with strength for a long period of time – it inspires research and forethought.

From how we think about using social media to crafting press releases, determining timing of media announcements – even down to investing in spokesperson training for media opportunities as a company grows and expands in influence – we need to be thinking long-term, planning long-term and helping those we work with understand the importance of utilising public relations for the long-term.

It’s not a one-off online post, press release, TV interview or statement that will cement your reputation in the eyes of those that matter – but a consistent investment, a persistent plan and a new way of viewing public relations that will achieve the true return on investment that good PR can deliver. But only for those willing to go the distance.

Katie Clift is Director of Katie Clift Consulting Pty Ltd – an International PR Expert. She lives in Athens, Greece, and consults on local and international PR campaigns worldwide. Follow her at twitter.com/katieclift, @katieclift on Instagram or at katieclift.com.


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