The Implications of Social Media Growth On Brand PR

We all know how far & fast social media has grown in the past few years – but what does this mean for the way in which brands PR themselves? I think there are four key implications:

  1. Storytelling. PR people have always been storytellers - whether creating stunts, staging photos, concocting spoofs, or simply spinning yarns about their clients’ brands. Social media requires our storytelling skills too, today more than ever. Consumers are getting fed up with being sold to or talked at or interrupted online by brands & their representatives pumping out commercial messaging. They want to be engaged and entertained. They want to be told stories. The PR storytelling skills that have always worked for traditional media work brilliantly for social media. 
  2. Cut-through. The ‘Youniverse’ macro-trend (where consumers feel an emotional desire to be seen as unique) has led to a massive outpouring of self-expression on social media platforms. With a huge and growing volume of social media conversations it is vital to identify what really counts among all the noise and how to cut through as a brand – who are the key digital influencers, which are the key brand mentions, and what are the best ways to engage.           
  3. Imagery. Psychologist Albert Mehrabian demonstrated that 93% of communication is nonverbal. The success of Instagram, Pinterest, Vine, twitpics,  infographics and viral videos shows how much this primal appetite for pictures and images applies to social media. I think PRs do sometimes use a thousand words when a picture would do, but we are getting better and are now increasingly using imagery to tell brand stories.
  4. Transparency. There’s nowhere to hide in the social media world. Brands must be truthful and honest in their proactive and reactive communication with consumers or they are likely to be exposed and ridiculed.

By Gary Freemantle, CEO, Clarion Communications

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