There is something extraordinary about public relations. I wasn’t always a convert. I often thought it was just another means to get your message out. But when I made the move from a digital role in publishing to a digital role at a PR agency, I discovered something pretty amazing. PR agencies understand storytelling and relationships in a deep and profound way.
As someone who grew up on the internet, and then on social media, I know relationships are the cornerstone of any social community. Successful brands and influencers understand that social networks work best when you create a real connection with people. To do that, you must understand your audience, help them and share the type of stories they want to see and hear. I’m always surprised by how many agencies don’t focus on these core elements and relegate social media to a mass advertising channel. PR agencies seem to innately get the importance of relationships, maybe because of the focus on trust between them and their clients, as well as the media they work with.
While agency lines have been blurring for some time, FHR is the most integrated agency I know. I see every day the benefit of having social work hand-in-hand with PR—and with creative, strategy, and crisis. It works because the same capabilities that make social tick (relationships and storytelling) are core to FHR’s DNA.
Based on my experience as a digital person living in a PR world, I’ve distilled four key reasons why the link between PR and social makes sense:
- Campaigns win awards but drumbeat wins hearts and wallets
Social media is an always-on environment (no that doesn’t mean 9-5, M-F) and thrives when there is a daily drumbeat of activity rooted in audience needs, not brand priorities. If there isn’t alignment between their needs and your priorities, it’s time to go back to the drawing board. Media relationships also thrive with drumbeat storytelling and PR agencies excel at this. Advertising agencies tend to think of social in terms of campaigns, not necessarily ongoing touchpoints.
- Storytelling needs to consistently connect consumers to brand
I can’t say this enough, PR agencies inherently understand storytelling. When PR leads social, content is consistent with broader messaging priorities and aligned with what audiences hear and see in other channels. It creates a consistent customer experience, which helps foster brand advocacy and across all channels – paid, earned and owned.
- Your brand story is being told by consumers all over social media
It’s sometimes surprising how many brands forget that social media is NOT your brand Facebook Page or Twitter channel. If you focus solely on your own brand presence, you miss the story. Your brand is being defined where audiences are talking about you – and it’s not always on your page. PR agencies proactively develop, nurture and build external relationships that can benefit your brand. We know how to listen and identify opportunities that help form and grow customer relationships.
- You need to amplify your reach across paid, earned and owned channels
PR agencies know how to create great stories and encourage others to contribute content. And we also know how to amplify them for maximum impact. An ad agency won’t always ensure a great piece of earned media coverage is turned into impactful social media content that amplifies the original story beyond its original reach.
Based on these four key learnings, if you are looking for a social media agency partner, be sure to expand your search, and ask smart questions around storytelling, relationships and how social intersects with other channels.