Jul 05, 2016 / by Katie Gaab

Brands must build a loyal, engaged community to cut through the noisy, overcrowded marketplace and have an impact. But too many run into the same problem too often. What’s holding them back?

Many forget that successful social PR stems from actually being social. Brands must go beyond simply posting and hoping for responses. They need to listen and use the data they glean to improve strategies and build better relationships with audiences.

At her recent webinar, “Unleashing The Power of Social PR,” Shonali Burke discussed why influencers have such an impact on communities, how to implement her 7C’s Blueprint for Social PR Success and what four “unicorn” words PR professionals should use in an audit.

Ready to build a stronger social PR framework? Here’s a glimpse at some of Shonali’s seven C’s:



A well-thought out objective is key to any social or PR strategy, but determining actual business goals can get tricky, especially for clients.

The difference in what PR professionals say they do and what clients or other departments think they do is often unparalleled. That’s why Shonali suggests conducting an audit to know what to work towards.

You always want to start with the audience’s point of view. “That, at the end of the day, is the crux of what our work is built upon,” says Shonali.

Ask questions based on the four “unicorn” words: you, what, me and how. Once you have the answers, you can insert them into this formula: “I am/We are ____ that helps _____ do ______ by_______.”

PR professionals may wear many hats, but clients and stakeholders must also understand they cannot address everything in one go. It’s critical to know what you do; however, it’s even more imperative that you can explain what you do too.Remarketing_Database__728x90


Your community is the jewel in social PR’s crown. To keep it sparkling, spend time building, educating and nurturing your community.

Brainstorm how you can apply the one percent rule to your efforts. In short, one percent of your community’s population will be the driving factor of your content, 9 percent will help in sharing and the remaining 90 percent will lurk.

“When it comes to social PR, we need to find that 1 percent and engage with them. But then, we also have to think about that 9 percent who can help a ton in disseminating the content,” says Shonali.

The Swedish Tourism Bureau did just that with their campaign, The Swedish Number. They determined that their one percent consisted of Swedes who are happy and proud to talk about the country and what it has to offer visitors. These are the people who answer the calls made to the hotline. The nine percent takes turns managing the Twitter account, bringing personality to social while engaging and expanding the community.

“When was the last time you saw a business give the keys to its castle to regular people?” Shonali asks.

Social goes beyond starting buzz and getting publicity. And if you make it more about community, you’ll start to balance your business objectives along the way.



Content is the core layer of communication. In order for strategies to come together, your content must be rock solid, relevant and well-written. To ensure this happens, brands must know what words and phrases their audiences are already using.

“You may need to remove your preconceived notions of where you audience should be,” says Shonali.

Social listening tools can provide the data needed to direct what phrases brands use. They also provide a simple and smart way of organizing the content you want to keep on top of, whether for future content fodder or media outreach.

After a brand understands who their audience includes, what they like to talk about and how they use language to voice their views, it will have a better sense of what content works on which social platform.

“Parse out content in a way that makes sense and that is versatile across multiple mediums,” says Shonali. “Tools and platforms are very important because that’s where our tactics come into play, but we need to not get lost in them.”


Images via Pixabay: 1, 2, 3

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About Katie Gaab

Katie Gaab is a content marketing specialist for Cision. Previously the senior editor for Help A Reporter Out (HARO), she enjoys connecting audiences to exciting, new content. She's a dancer, avid concert-goer, foreign language nerd and book worm. Find her on Twitter @kathryngaab.