Social Media Vs PR: Who’s The Real Influencer?

Social media has had a huge impact on the way the modern world works. From the way we communicate to the way we eat our food, there is no denying the impact social media has had on our society. It’s also changed the way brands put themselves out into the world.

Young girl using smart phone,Social media concept.

On a visceral level, most people understand that social media has changed public relations in a significant way. But it’s not only changed the way we think about PR, or even how it works day to day. Social media has completely transformed the way people and businesses communicate, and so the fundamental activities involved in PR have needed to change.

To illustrate, here are just a few ways that social media has changed the PR industry, and what the knock-on effect of those changes may well be.

How We Connect With The Right People

In days gone by, if you wanted to get hold of a journalist, you’d prepare to do a lot of calling, emailing or even writing. It took some real dedication to hunt them down, and a great story to get their attention.

Now? Hop on Twitter. You might feel nervous about reaching out online, but we guarantee you that’s what the journalists want. It’s why they’re there in the first place.

Social media allows journalists to access a wealth of constantly fresh and relevant information, and have it come directly to them. Social media has given companies and individuals the ability to reach anyone they want with the click of a button.

The Impact: Mainstream PR is now much more accessible, with businesses able to get more reach efficiently. It has opened up opportunities that were previously closed to them. Smaller businesses are getting more press coverage, simply because they can reach out directly to share their inspiring stories. As a result, the local press has a much more authentic ‘local’ feel, bringing communities together.

The Rise Of Fake News

Ahh, the fake news debate. Whether you believe it or not, you can’t deny just how damaging this has been. Social media has made it easy to share false stories worldwide. Now, the deliberate creation of news stories to fool or to entertain is nothing new.

But social media is now fuelling that fire, making it easier than ever for fake news to spread and stick around. It’s become an epidemic and has had a huge influence on our world.

Fake news is almost exclusively spread through social media, and can even be picked up by mainstream media if the interest is high enough. With society becoming disenfranchised with the mainstream media and allegations of corruption, most people are now more willing to believe what they see on Facebook instead.

The Impact: Fake news spread through social media has fuelled division in the developed world. It’s also created a general mistrust of journalists.

People feel they are being lied to, and instead are turning to social media to find their information. This is something modern PR strategies need to take into account.

Blurred Lined Between News And Opinion

Again, this isn’t anything new, but thanks to social media it’s growing, and growing fast. The media is under constant pressure to ‘break the news’, while they are also expected to play a leading role in informing public opinion.

Social media isn’t exactly helping this, giving everyone a voice to influence and drive what’s news. This makes it harder for viewers and readers to distinguish between hard facts and commentary.

You only have to read a few articles on some news sites to realise that most of the content is made up of opinion posts scraped from social media platforms.

Social media essentially gives everyone their own platform, with the ability to curate their own audience and content like never before.

The Impact: There is a general mistrust of the mainstream media, coupled with a growing public voice online. It has never been easier for individuals and brands to make themselves heard in the world. With the right social media strategy, a business could easily get more coverage and exposure than a traditional PR agency could ever deliver.

Find Influencers

Up until a few years ago, an ‘influencer’ wasn’t a job title. But with the rise of social media, new influential careers have sprung up. One of those is the social media influencer – people with huge followings on social media who will feature your product or service and promote it to their audience, for a price.

Influencers have now become a key part of any good PR strategy. Whether that’s sending products for review, agreeing on sponsorship deals or inviting them to events, influencers are the people to know.

Looking for insights on finding influencers and the importance of authenticity? Check out our recent article here.

The Impact: There has been a huge shift away from traditional PR methods and towards the digital space. Identifying influencers to work with is now a key part of many PR strategies, with influencers having the power to propel business success at every level.

Unexpected Impacts

Of course, as with every big cultural shift, there have been some changes we weren’t expecting. The biggest impacts have been on the pharmacovigilance industry. As a refresher, pharmacovigilance is the process of monitoring the effects of medical drugs after they’ve been licenced for use.

This means gathering a lot of data, particularly around adverse side effects. Pharmacovigilance comes amid growing pressure to implement standard procedures for doing this, with Patient Support Programmes (PSP’s) being the main area of focus. PSP’s are designed to help patients take their medication correctly, improve adherence, manage their disease better, reduce complications and provide financial assistance, as well as giving the companies a chance to connect with their customers.

Up until recently, there were no real rules on how to do this. But now, pharmacovigilance is starting to embrace social media as a solution, creating digital platforms that connect with social media and prompt the same kind of dedicated use.

Digital solutions focused around social media are being built as we speak, and this is something that improves not only the effectiveness of drug safety work but also the lives of patients all over the world. Where traditional PR methods would fail, social media tools have helped solve a huge problem and make the world a better place.

So what does all of this mean? Well, it means that the PR industry needs to be as agile as possible if it wants to survive. New PR strategies are becoming more aligned to social media as an outlet, recognising it as the top global influencer.

For PR agencies that are dedicated to the ‘traditional’ methods, it could become difficult to compete with businesses that are using social media outreach as a key part of their PR strategy. Anyone looking for publicity in the modern world needs to leverage social media, especially if they have aspirations of reaching the press. If you would like to know more, just get in touch with the team at Orbital Media today.