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5 Tips on Making Over Your Social PR Strategy

“Our silver bullet used to be the media,” Heidi Sullivan (SVP, digital content at Cision) said at the start of The PR Makeover: Integration Strategies That Work, a workshop she hosted with Shonali Burke (CEO, Shonali Burke Consulting) yesterday at the PRSA 2014 International Conference in Washington, DC. Today there is no silver bullet—people get their news from anywhere and everywhere and we need to be thinking about how we can reach audiences differently, in ways beyond traditional media.

That’s where “old school PR,” as Burke puts it, needs to embrace “social PR” and the rise of the digital influencer. In their session, Sullivan and Burke provided several tips for making over your PR strategy and leveraging the reach and goodwill of influencers across journalism and social media. Here are five standouts:

Go niche. “The most effective tribes are the super-niche tribes,” Sullivan said. When you drill down from fashion to handbags, food to gluten-free cooking or sports to curling, you are effectively getting more specialization and affinity from the influencers you’re targeting. The Cision Media Database even reflects this trend—23 percent of the influencers we list cover first-tier topics while a whopping 77 percent cover more specialized second- or third-tier topics.

Put community front and center. Burke introduced her three Cs of social PR—content, conversation and community—and noted that the latter often gets overlooked. “If we’re ignoring community we’re really doing ourselves a disservice,” Burke said. When you put community at the center of your PR efforts, you find the people who have a level of connectivity with your brand or campaign and would be willing to cover your story.

Empower your advocates. Both Sullivan and Burke emphasized that you want to give your community ownership of your message and allow them to put their spin on the story. Doing this will help you get the highest commitment for your campaigns. Besides, “you can’t control the message,” said Burke. “You only control what you put out there.”

Always measure to your goals. Burke got interested in measurement because she was doing public relations for theaters and wanted to know what efforts of hers “puts butts in seats.” To find out what your goals are, she suggests asking the question of your brand or client, “What does success—what does good PR—mean to you?” For you it could be brand awareness, increased revenue, reputation management, advocating for policy or educating the public. Once you know what’s most important you can develop key performance indicators (KPIs) to help you measure back to that goal.

Just 10 minutes a day. Want to grow your community quickly? Ten minutes a day is all it takes, according to Sullivan. She suggests using an RSS reader to provide you with interesting and relevant content. Then, as you’re drinking your coffee in the morning and starting your day, find the headlines that appeal to you, read these posts, comment on them and share them with your own audience. “If you do that every day, you suddenly have 50 influencers you’ve built a relationship with,” Sullivan said.

Are you at the PRSA 2014 International Conference too? Come visit Cision and Vocus at booths 23/24 and 26/27 to learn more about the #FutureofPR.

About Teresa Dankowski

Teresa Dankowski is a content marketing manager at Cision and covers best practices in marketing, PR and social media. She enjoys printmaking, wine, TV and dominating at rec league softball.

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