In classic PR, where you picked up the phone and called every key journalist, one by one, inviting them to dinner or maybe a trip somewhere in exchange for a favorable column in their magazine. In today’s digital world, this type of PR simply no longer exists. These professionals have become affiliated with “communication” rather than using simple “press relations.” Now we are talking about social networks — Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn — monitoring, streaming events, press releases 2.0, the incorporation of digital influencers…
PR is no longer just “Media Relations”
Communication is much more than just meals, tours, calls and calls with reporters. We must observe our company from a much greater global point of view and formulate precise, crystal clear strategies, involving all of those channels — including social networks — capable of playing a critical role in seeing if our brand is perceived to have a good or bad reputation. And we need to do with with a digital perspective by coordinating our own tasks with other departments to include other areas such as digital marketing. We have an increasing obligation to take anything into account that may affect our online and offline strategy, not limiting ourselves to concentrate solely on monthly press clippings.
Social networks are an example of a major change that communication has undergone over the last few years, leading us to where we are today — a world dominated by an absolute sense of immediacy. A few months ago, on its eighth anniversary, Twitter posted everything that it has done for professionals in this sector. And this is only one of the channels among the hundreds that exist nowadays!
Everything is trial and error in the digital environment. However, experience has shown us a few widely accepted best practices for channels such as Twitter, where communication is so one-to-one in nature and full transparency is encouraged.
Here are 3 keys to successfully leverage Twitter’s resources within Digital PR:
1. Having a personal Twitter Profile (and active)
Let me start off by asking you a question: Do you have an active Twitter profile? If your answer is “No, I don’t,” I must state that you as a PR professional are making a huge error. In today’s world Twitter is by far the best platform for establishing relationships with people in your industry to generate opportunities for collaboration and make your profile as a professional visible to everyone who matters in the industry.
It is crucial to reflect the same skills you use offline are applicable in the online world. Grow your own “personal brand,” nourish your accounts with worthwhile and quality content in your own area of expertise, try to become a reference for other professionals and (above all) proactively INTERACT. Twitter is a very user-friendly way to network and you should know how to use it.
Do you need a basic handbook? If so, have a look at these 10 Basic Rules of Twitter.
Or, do you need some inspiration? Have a look at these professional profiles:
2. Identify and interact with your target and influencers
Email is still being used without a doubt. According to Launchmetrics’ first report about Influencer Marketing, 66% of all marketers and communication professionals used email as their prime channel for interaction. However, its power to capture people’s attention seems to be weakening as may be seen by the fact that we all nearly automatically delete emails every single day before reading them. The main point is to be different from all of the rest as we need to stand out in order to guarantee our content is read.
A person who receives an average of 80 emails in their inbox per day, probably has a rather strict selection criteria that will end up leaving your email in the “unread” queue, or even the trash.
And if we are talking about Influencers such as bloggers, tweeters, experts on different channels and movers and shakers in the 2.0 world, email then becomes a second avenue for networking. In fact, from the same study we talked about earlier, 57% of all respondents said that Twitter was the most suitable channel to establish contact with their influencers.
So, what should be the next steps be to properly initiate this interaction process?
Locate people on Twitter related to your sector, whose content may be of interest.
The Twitter search engine should be your first and fastest step. All you have to do is type in the sector, subject, hashtag, or issue that you want to locate people for. Once that search has been completed, check the “people” box in the left-hand column. Always be thinking in terms directly related to their bios, as these semantic searches are not run on content that specific user is posting, but rather on the text describing their Twitter biography.
Another tool that we tend to use to locate key people is called Tweepz, a simple search engine which searches by using key terms enabling you to create a segmented list with all the data related to a set of people (by defining followers, following and updates). In addition, you may also apply filters to further clean up your search by using a predetermined number of followers, followed by the year that their accounts had been created.
There is a wide array of tools to locate key or influential people on Twitter. But if you want to go even further on your influencer identification, you are going to need a tool that, among other useful features, enables you to identify concrete people according to the content in their tweets, posts in blogs, media and other social networks. This will allow you to manage these contacts in a broader sense and enable you to generate reports about your actions with these influencers.
Organize your contacts.
You may create segmented lists on Twitter to categorize your contacts, differentiating marketing professionals, social media specialists or PR bloggers… These lists will enable you to display a cleaner timeline in respect to specific topics or people who have commonalities. For example, let’s suppose you are working for a brand within the fashion industry. You would most likely want to be aware of what influencers are saying on their blogs. Some are specialized in “shoes” and others who are experts on “handbags”, lifestyle journalists, competing brands, etc. By distributing them in various specific segmented lists, you will have a thorough vision, focusing on each type of target content.
How will this segmentation help you? Basically by being ready to take full advantage of any opportunity that may arise to communicate directly to a specific grouping of contacts, to be in tune with their concrete needs, keeping the sort of information that tends in interest them in your own mind to keep the communication targeted and consistent. This is the best way to adapt your own communication process while never losing track of what is happening in a wide array of on-going conversations.
If you happen to be one of those lucky people who already has millions of followers and yet none of them is segmented into a specific list, we’d recommend you use a tool named TwitlistManager. It is free and a very simple application that enables you to quickly distribute content to the people that you are following, segmenting them and the messages you are Tweeting list by list.
Use a Digital Public Relations Approach
There is really that much of a difference because at the end of the day, we are still talking about relationships between human beings and that should be precisely what communicators do day-in and day-out. Share the content being generated by your contacts of interest, respond in a timely manner to their requests online, make yourself highly visible in their eyes. But never overlook the offline playing field, as there are times that ‘de-virtualization’ may be required and being proactively present in both spaces will lead to success.
There are many brands that are leveraging their prior contacts with key influencers through Twitter as the most suitable channel for inviting them to attend one of their events. And, if they are doing it in a natural, friendly way, then there’s no problem with that.
3. Keep track of who is attending your events: monitor them
Twitter should be one of your main allies. You know that Twitter has a hashtag for practically everything and enables any conversation to be shared with other users. If you have planned an event in your calendar (your own or someone else’s), I recommend that you try these three things:
- Set up a monitoring hashtag a couple of weeks before it is going to be held (I recommend that you download our whitepaper ‘Event Planning Checklist‘).
- Create a list of contacts to see who is planning to attend this event (speakers, organizers, assistants) and then go ahead and include those who have been detected through monitoring that you feel might be useful as well.
- Pay special attention to these folks, and reach out and meet with them either personally or virtually at the event itself.
By doing so, you will be fully aware of the key people attending to keep in mind for your brand’s communication and public relations actions.
Rule of thumb: Twitter is not a press release
Always bear in mind that Twitter is about “content.” Many companies generating a great amount of corporate news of interest for the media (public institutions, foundations, associations, etc.) maintain a profile for the “press” and another more corporate in nature. For both of these profiles, a press release is generally the fastest way to share important updates about the company’s movements. However, traditional press releases in PDF format are getting old. Why not make the content more interesting to make sure it garners attention and makes these people want to share your news? To get this kind of attention, you should try to use more interactive formats for your press release, including pictures, videos, the works. Also remember to create supporting content such as blog posts or infographics to distribute on other channels and make sure your news is properly spread on all the correct channels.
On the Digital Communication Map, one of the most important communication influencers in Spain, Pablo Herreros, spoke about press releases: “It’s a dead format. People are still sending them out, but they have very little impact unless the news in itself is brutal. One-to-one contact with journalists and bloggers is more profitable. If you do send out a press release, they had better not be sugar-coated or aiming at telling the world how fantastic your brand is. 100% transparency and closeness has to be the goal.” Each channel has its own set of rules and we must learn how to tailor our messages to fit each and every one of them— the ability to adapt is essential.
To sum it all up, there is one essential Twitter: users looks for content, not corporate messages. Don’t sell press releases, create high quality content and start doing Digital PR to get noticed.