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The Social PR Hit: The ins and outs of how to achieve social PR

The Social PR Hit

Pinterest marketing

‘Let’s start marketing our company on Pinterest before Pinterest is ruined by marketing.’ How true is this? For every social platform, there is a marketer or a brand that wants to capitalise on it. For Digital PRs, navigating social media is a very important aspect of maximising efforts to build a brand’s online presence.

Twitter and Instagram have become two of the most used communication tools by Digital PRs when building and forming relationships with Digital Editors. Where an email may get lost in an overcrowded inbox, these social media platforms are a vital means of reaching out to bloggers and influencers. They are also goldmines for sourcing new contacts and identifying coverage opportunities. Out of the two, Twitter opens up much more doors to digital PR whilst widening the divide between traditional PR even further.

The Journalist

Traditionally, you needed a journalist to feature the brand in the magazine to get a PR hit. Now, digital PR hits can be featured by the journalist tweeting about a brand or product. The hit may not stay on a user’s feed as long, but it will go out to their multitude of followers. Despite the short time frame, this type of mention is twice as influential. Why is it more influential? Journalists are universally recognised as media specialists.  If they go out of their way to talk about a brand on their personal thread, then it gives that said brand clout. The aforementioned is the definition of a social PR hit.

Tom Wiggins

The joy of this is that they can mention the brand’s social handle and direct their followers to that brand’s page and, more importantly, to their site.

It’s also easy because there is no competition for article space; the tricky part is building that relationship with that journalist and giving them something that is relevant to them. You cannot convince a journalist or blogger to tweet about your brand or product, but you can form a relationship with them – find out what they are interested in and what they love talking to their followers about. Marketing is always about relevancy, a truth that doesn’t just apply to Digital PR.

Magazines and Blogs

Then there’s the social PR hit that results from a PR hit in a digital publication. This type of social PR hit would be a social mention from the publication to their large following, mentioning the brand and product. The great thing about this is that it originates from digital PR, which overlaps on to social and puts your brand in front of a larger audience.

A simple review or feature can spark a Twitter conversation on a particular brand or product. This can turn strangers into customers and brand advocates. An example of this was when beauty bloggers started endorsing their write up of a small French brand that was unattainable in the UK.  The more the bloggers and beauty journalists spoke about how they used it, the more their followers want to try the brand. Thanks to social and digital PR, Bioderma became a cult product within the beauty community.

A social hit doesn’t have to originate from an ezine or blog either. Lifestyle brand Cath Kidston pulled off a PR stunt last year that only resulted in social press mentions. The lifestyle brand stormed into Grazia HQ and made the offices, the kitchen, the toilets and each journalist’s desk into chintz heaven. This got every journalist from the title (including the editor), and the main Twitter and Instagram handle of the magazine, tweeting the before-and-after pictures with the hashtag #CKmakeover.


#CKMakeOver Grazia

The hashtag captured the imagination of the Cath Kidston name, and also elevated the brand by putting it in front of Grazia’s following. This was replicated with its European variants. If you are unsure that a popular magazine will look at your brand, use your creativity to show the brand in a completely different light.

The Celebrity

Celebrity Twitter endorsements have come under fire over the last few years. It has been deemed good PR practice for any celebrity endorsements to be stated as being paid for or supplied by a PR agency. As much as these can be affective, they have lost their appeal and feel more and more like advertising. This may be because sites like Izea have been born out of celebrities and brands joining forces over Twitter.

This doesn’t mean that the PR element has been completely lost. If you know a celebrity that fits your brand’s interest or have been vocal about your brand, then they are already brand advocates.

So what makes the perfect celebrity social PR hit?

  • The celebrity fits in with the brand’s core message and tone
  • The celebrity has already expressed they like the brand or product
  • Their followers will find the product or brand relevant to them
  • The celebrity has a big following that are constantly engaging
  • The brand is being shown or demonstrated in an original way to the celebrity
  •  PR tactics and practices are used instead of affiliate marketing

Social PR hits are sometimes overlooked when Digital PRs report. If you can report on the brand mention, the platforms they have been mentioned on and the size of the social followings: you have a social PR hit on your hands. Report on how many comments were created from that mention and if any other big social influencers joined in on the conversation.

The main principle in public relations is about being social, therefore social media and digital PR should never sit in separate silos.

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Jodie Harris heads up the Digital PR division at MediaVision. She has worked in publication relations since 2008. She specialises in bringing the rules of traditional PR to a digital platform.