Impact of Social Media on Public Relations

Public Relations and Social Media are more intimately linked than many realize. In media, in reputation, and in targeted marketing, social media is a modern necessity.

While traditional forms of media – television, radio, and print news – still hold great sway over the general populace, social media is becoming more and more integrated. News reports now frequently incorporate hashtags and many use Facebook as a means to disseminate news rather than a morning paper, knowing the day’s top headlines will hit their feed – and consequently, their eyes – almost immediately. Social Media can be utilized to not only draw attention to news stories, but even drive them. Users posting video and pictures of events they witnessed can garner the attention of local and even national news. The importance of traditional media has not faded, but is being supported and, in some cases, driven by social media.

Social Media holds power over the reputation of an individual or a business even more than traditional forms of media. Traditional media will often highlight charitable deeds and tout the benefits of growing companies, but much power lays behind word of mouth, which increasingly has become digitally-based. Heroes are made each day on the internet when a revolutionary product is launched into viral popularity, or when a kitten is rescued by a Good Samaritan. While a news story may destroy a politician’s career or a local restaurant with poor health standards, it is the unfiltered sources of internet memes and internet rants that cut a swath through public opinion: the Yelp reviews that destroy local custom and the damning photo that exposes an illicit affair, reposted and shared millions of times over. Social Media can build the bridge to notoriety and just as quickly burn it into the ashes of infamy. Guiding and crafting Social Media opinion is an art that is quickly becoming a science integral to modern business.

Targeted marketing became both more sophisticated and simpler with the advent of Social Media. Companies in times past used to scour the Nielsen ratings and other collected data in hopes of finding the perfect time and channel on which to show their ad to have it seen by the largest possible number of their target market, or mull over which page should be selected in which local newspaper. Now, a $5 Facebook ad will let you target by gender, age, location, and more simultaneously, with the process a few button clicks and five minutes of time. With unparalleled access to target consumers, many small companies have been able to grow and flourish in a vast digital marketplace, and the small local shops have been able to garner attention and business from their specific area.

Social Media and public relations are bound together in our modern world. The public can garner the opinion of thousands, even millions, with a quick search, and we’re now fully entrenched in an age where businesses and celebrities rise and fall under the tide of social media and public opinion.