Social networking has become the new frontier for public relations
The sign of the times that was the late February shutdown of the Rocky Mountain News is the result of a long-brewing sea change in the public’s media-consumption habits. It follows that it also represents a sea change in public relations. Less newsprint and fewer newsrooms make for less opportunity for companies to get exposure in traditional media.
In the wake of the collapse of the daily, new media is emerging at a furious pace, in the form of hundreds of social-networking sites on the Internet, with a new one seemingly sprouting every day. Facebook is the largest such site worldwide – with some 175 million users – and MySpace, LinkedIn, Ning and others have sizable audiences and more specific niches. Twitter is the current king of the micro-blogging hill and perhaps the most buzzed-about site on the Web – at least until the next big thing appears, probably any day now.
But this explosion does not mean it’s time to abandon more time-tested PR strategies with the traditional media. Diane Nagler of Diane Nagler Public Relations in Denver says there are still plenty of opportunities in print publications.
“Everybody’s taking a hit, but the big ones aren’t going away,” she says. “If you have good editorial content, you have readers, and advertisers will follow.” Nagler says clients who want to garner attention in big national publications are unfazed by the publishing industry’s travails.
Regardless, online social media is a must in any 21st century PR plan, Nagler adds. “All of my clients have a page on Facebook,” she says. As Nagler’s clients run the gamut from plastic surgeon Dr. Gregory Buford to children’s entertainment group the Jumpitz, social networking is clearly an industry-agnostic activity.
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Nagler says that the PR power of “tweets” (short blog posts) on Twitter and status updates on Facebook are undeniable: One casual mention could represent the equivalent of a mountain of ink-drenched newsprint. “It’s amazing how one little post can rock your world,” she says.
Evidence of Twitter’s growing power was clear at a recent Twitter Boot Camp, staged by futurist think tank DaVinci Institute. About a dozen men and women sat elbow to elbow with laptops open for three hours as Deb Frey, or @DaVinciDeb to her 6,139 Twitter followers, instructed them how to expand their “spheres of influence.”
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