Westchester County Business Journal: Fusing social media and PR to succeed

When Ruby Media Group was founded five years ago, social media and public relations were still viewed as different service categories for businesses. Executives wanted to jump on the social media bandwagon and were interested in either PR or social media.

Today, there are numerous social media companies all over this region, and all of the traditional PR agencies have added social media as one of their integral service offerings.

The agency model of the future is one that seamlessly combines PR and social media. Agencies that continue with the old model of only being a social media agency (without PR) or a PR agency (without social media capabilities) will be left behind. Today, clients want a full-service approach. From content creation to promotion and distribution, clients want one agency handling their social media and PR needs.

The top PR and social media changes over the past five years include:

• Social Driven PR: The days of “cold” pitching are dead. Social Media has changed the pitching process. Journalists now want to put a face to the avatar. Agencies that embrace the social driven PR model understand how to leverage these tools to get maximum exposure. With the plethora of data available to PR practitioners today, one of the biggest ways to get ignored by journalists is not to read what they write on social media. It is better to pitch a story to a journalist based on what they are writing about in that moment vs. pitching something that is not relevant to what they are covering.

• Data Analysis: Five years ago, executives wanted to know “What is social media and should I use it?” Today, executives want to know, “What is my social media content strategy and how can I maximize it to increase campaign results?” Expectations of social media measurement and analytics have also increased. Clients want to see an ROI (return on investment) on all social media and PR spends. Calculating media impressions, Facebook fan likes or website visits is not enough to stay competitive today. Social media and PR campaign goals must be linked to overall business objectives to create maximum results. Agencies that fully embrace this model will win in the new economy.

• Social Strategic Planning: The most effective campaigns today link back to an increase in overall business growth. For example, a successful campaign could be measured by an increase in new diners, members or customers by X percent. The best way to measure this is through benchmarking and data analysis. The expectation of PR practitioners as “data analysts” has become standard. Benchmarking is critical in determining campaign results.

• Interactive Sponsorships: From a PR and advertising perspective, there has been a big shift in client’s expectations on ROI of sponsorships. It is no longer enough to purchase a sponsorship to “get the brand out there.” Clients want to strategically align their brands with event sponsorships that link back to an increase in business. The sponsorship model of the future will be more interactive and give clients an opportunity to engage directly with prospects vs. standing behind a table collecting leads. The most effective sponsorships will embrace the new mindset of Westchester Executives and understand how to meet their needs.

• Traditional is back: We are seeing a renaissance back to traditional media. There is inherently more “trust” in the editorial offering of print based outlets vs. digital. With everyone as their own publisher, executives yearn for the fact checking that comes along with traditional media. High profile media mentions in print publications are still extremely important.

The old agency model is dead. Social media has become commoditized. The agencies that will win in social are those who are leveraging talent with strong journalism and graphic design skills. Content is king and the medium has become more visual. Look to hire former journalists or graphic designers when hiring social media content managers. Journalists know how to write copy that is compelling and elicits feedback from fans. Agencies that will win in the new economy will fully embrace an integrated, 360-degree approach to social media marketing and brand development.

Kristen Ruby is the CEO of Ruby Media Group, a full service public relations and social media agency in Westchester, Greenwich and Manhattan that is now 5 years old. Ruby Media Group specializes in creating strategic, creative and measureable PR and social media campaigns. For more information, visit rubymediagroup.com.

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PR and social media
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