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Decoding The Symbiotic Relationship Between Social Media and Public Relations

Kriti Tulsiani | @sleepingpsyche2

Updated: April 21, 2017, 8:33 AM IST
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Decoding The Symbiotic Relationship Between Social Media and Public Relations
Image courtesy: PTI

Public Relations, an inadvertent part of media cycle, has grown by heaps and bounds in the past few years. From being a single publicist’s job to a whole agency at play – the field has witnessed a massive boom. But with sudden rise in the use of social media and the emergence of various platforms including Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and Facebook, does this field find itself at the crossroads? got in touch with several publicists – both independent and from agencies - to find out the answer.

Divij Krishna, a seasoned PR, believes that even though there’s a “growing focus on digitization and the increase in smartphone adaptation”, one shouldn’t overlook the power of traditional PR tools like TV, radio and print.

“An effective PR strategy will continue to play a key role in building brand awareness, generate business and distinguish a brand from its competition. The need of the hour is having the capability of integrating both these platforms and create effective, impactful campaigns,” he said.

He added that while we’re laying a significant emphasis on digital strategy and social media to boost a brand’s business, the traditional PR tools encompass several components required to make a brand campaign successful.

One may like to see social media as a threat to the business of public relations, but the managers feel the two exist in a symbiotic relationship. “Both the businesses go hand in hand and integration is inevitable. As a PR business, it’s imperative to scout for social media opportunities with both existing and potential clients and vice versa,” he said.

Another major concern for a PR personnel is the social media outrage over controversial issues. When asked if the process of damage control sometimes takes a toll on PR executives, he said, “Handling such situations are extremely difficult, however if there is a strategic plan in place and it is executed in the right manner, it can definitely help negate, if not eradicate the controversy completely.”

“Having a crises management plan in place prior to an outbreak is the key to effectively manage a situation like this,” he added.

The Founder and Director of Loudspeaker Media, Mauli Singh, is of the view that social media does provide a creative freedom to reach out to the target audience but the spread won’t grow unless you’ve a PR person handling it.

“Social media posts can create a certain dialogue – they can post trivia about a film or a photograph from the sets - but beyond that if you wish to reach out to people who’re not on Internet – one needs Public Relations,” she said.

She had no qualms in accepting that even though social media is a more intimate platform to reach out to the audience, it still cannot replace the quintessential PR practices.

“There’s only limited content to share on social media without a PR strategy. And what one shares is mostly the interviews or the stories covered by media – for which you need a PR.”

She further made a point that one cannot write off the traditional mediums including TV, print and radio as not all people are tech-friendly. “One needs to reach out to the target audience and before that has to identify the target audience. The major chunk of people are still not internet-savvy. The elderly and housewives often refuse to come on social media. In fact, in remote places, they mostly consume information from traditional mediums,” she said while discussing the shortcomings of digital media.

“You’ll need PR as long as there’s radio, print and television. Even if celebrities share stuff, they share stories and interviews, which’re actually PR jobs. They also need a certain machinery to handle social media,” she added.

The founder of Elevate Promotions, Bhavika Morparia, doesn’t think that social media is now becoming synonymous to PR but is now one of the stronger tools of PR. “Instead of competing with it, I believe it can be a huge and instant medium that allows us to have great reach.”

When asked what it’s like to measure the engagement on social media, she said, “It's not easy to quantify the value but it just adds to the family of the brand.”

First Published: April 21, 2017, 8:33 AM IST
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