Social media and public relations work brilliantly together, but there are those in the industry who have let it take over their public relations campaigns completely. This is a mistake. It’s understood that social media is an effective and budget-friendly way to reach the public, but it’s not advisable to allow it to be the driving force behind your campaigns. A tweet strategy is no more of a public relations campaign than a dream and an Instagram account is a business plan.


We know that top brands see amazing results on social media, but don’t be fooled. Top brands have firms dedicating their time to more than social media. This is what confuses people. Social media success has become an obsession for many companies. Marketing-centric content has instigated this obsession, and everyone is falling for it.


Significant research has been devoted to the impact of social media on consumers. In a recent Gallup report, research revealed that 94 percent of users on Twitter, Facebook, and other popular sites log on to connect with friends and families, not businesses and organizations. Perhaps the confusion about public relations and social media is the marketing angle. Public relations isn’t marketing. The two are connected, but a public relations campaign on social media is entirely different from a digital marketing campaign.


The consumer element is alive in public relations, and most companies hire public relations firms to generate awareness in order to increase or retain business and build relationships with the public. Ultimately, however, it’s important for people to understand that we’re not in the business of selling products. We’re in the business of communicating messages.


Social Network Graphic

94 percent of users on Twitter, Facebook, and other popular sites log on to connect with friends and families.

We’re not suggesting that you abandon social media completely and revert to the rules of public relations that no longer apply in today’s culture. What we do suggest is that you find a balance between your social media activities and those activities that are proven and effective. Traditional media isn’t dead. Communities, where businesses are built and nurtured, are alive, well, and not going anywhere. The public, whose eyes and ears we rely on, is wide awake and listening, in places other than Twitter and Facebook.


Devote time and resources to social media campaigns, but don’t blow your budget on social media. If you use social media for public relations, use it to share stories about companies and individuals. Use it to communicate messages that inspire confidence and trust. Use it to respond to questions and complaints. Finally, leverage it to regain trust that may have been broken. Don’t use it to push products. That’s someone else’s job.


Do you use social media in your PR campaigns? Has it been effective, or do you find that it wastes time and resources? Share your insights in the comments section, or tweet me @nataliepetitto.