As public relations professionals better understand social media metrics and analytics, we get better at proving these platforms’ worth to clients. Everyone knows social media is an integral part of a communications campaign now; even though the platforms shift and change, the need to have our clients on them remains. But necessity doesn’t mean social media is always easy to deal with. A brand crisis is born on Facebook weekly, internet trolls test our

Edward Bernays

Edward Bernays, the father of public relations

patience, and doing social media well requires a decent time investment.

However, PR pros still have plenty to be thankful for in the social realm. As we head into Thanksgiving, here’s a reminder of why social is good, and what blessings we can count.

1. More Opportunities for Organic Media Coverage

Broadcast outlets now routinely include a live Twitter feed onscreen, and often parse social media for up-to-the-minute stories and trends. If we are carefully monitoring hashtags and participating in conversations appropriately, the brands we represent have the opportunity to garner organic coverage in the media – no pitching required. The key is to participate in discussions where the brand logically fits and can add value. We can’t just add a rainbow flag to the profile picture and call it a day, either; the brand must be able to further the discussion already happening. No client has a place in every popular hashtag.

2. A Chance to Fix a Crisis Before It Starts

Though social media outlets have proven to be a dangerous mine field for clients’ image, the platforms can also be a place to monitor negative attitudes and attempt to correct the course before a full-blown crisis happens. Many brands use Twitter as a quick response customer service tool. Businesses can also directly connect with upset consumers before they take to Yelp, Trip Advisor, and the 5 o’clock news with their complaints if the company monitors social media comments and responds immediately.

3. The Ability to Really Explore Consumer Engagement

“Engagement” is difficult to quantify on social. Is it likes, comments, and shares? Or is it tied to conversion rate? However a business defines engagement, PR pros have the chance to really dive into connecting with their audience. PR is a field centered around relationships, and social media has redefined how these are built and nurtured. The PR industry has entered a new era with social media, and has access to tools that Edward Bernays only dreamed of.

4. New Avenues for Pitching

Social media has changed the face of pitching. While some journalists still prefer to be pitched via email, many are open to a direct message on Twitter. Most Twitter users have the app on their phone and get notifications of direct messages instantly. It’s also a quick way to show that you’ve researched them beyond their email address and found their Twitter handle. Even if you’re not ready to pitch an idea right away, you can connect with journalists by retweeting them and tweeting comments about their recent pieces.

5. “Soft-Sell” Posts

cute dog

An example of “soft-selling” – cute!

Social users aren’t very receptive to hard-selling on Facebook and Twitter. Sales posts and links do have their place, but brands’ followers are looking for posts that add more value to them. As a PR pro, this type of content can be a break from press releases, pitching, and campaign writing. One of the A.wordsmith clients I do social media work for is a pet supply store. I get to spend a little bit of time each week looking for adorable animal videos and news to share on their pages. It’s a fun way to start Monday, and one I’m definitely thankful for.