Pardon the sports reference, but often times we hear coaches say “the best defense is a good offense.” In other words, being proactive can alleviate the possibility of having to defend the things that you’ve done or plan to do. I think we can all understand the value in being proactive in our lives. Even for a perpetual procrastinator like myself, if I am able to plan ahead and accomplish tasks ahead of a deadline, I feel a calmness that’s almost too good to be true.
From a work standpoint, I find particular value in being proactive in brand awareness; telling the story of the organization in everything that you do. This can be difficult through single channel communications as the story can, and should, be told from many lenses. Ideally we want this story shared with as many people as we can find that will listen. From a public relations lens, an organization is essentially engaging with populations outside of the organization as they interpret what that organizations story is. And while it might be difficult to see the effectiveness of public relations through social media, take a moment to think about the sheer size of the captive audiences we can access through multiple platforms and the methods in which those platforms allow us to engage; to tell our story. We can tell our stories in a proactive way and share it with millions using the right strategies. It would be a detriment to any organization to simply sit and wait until they need to respond, as opposed to writing the book on an on-going basis and allowing the audiences to digest what’s being shared.
It would be naive to think that an organization, no matter how proactive they are, wouldn’t encounter a situation where they had to be reactive. By design, social media platforms not only allow us to be proactive and share, but we can also respond as needed through conversational tools. The opportunity to accept inquiries and act on them is available immediately. No need to run a press release or arrange for live conferences; not to downplay the effectiveness of those actions. In fact, one in four journalists report that they prefer that PR professionals contact them through social
media (Institute for PR, 2013). While there is not a majority vote to use social media as the main source of public relations work, there is work being done that implies we are trending in that direction.
Social media use these days is essentially linked to legitimacy. It’s seen as a red flag if an organization exists nowhere in the social media universe. Even organizations who exist can be questioned due to low activity levels and mediocre networks (sporadic content posts, lack of followers, etc.). It would be irresponsible to live in the various social media worlds and not plan to use them to your advantage both reactive and proactively. Recently, my job organization opened registration for a large professional development being held this fall. As part of the registration process, we direct folks to contact us with any questions via email when they visit our web page. Email generates little to no inquiries. When we share the registration content via social media, we receive multiple comments on one thread. Not only is it easier for our readers to simply comment on our content as opposed to opening their email, but it allows us to understand what is generating the inquiries based on what we post and where.
I can assure you that this isn’t an unsubstantiated theory. PR is a natural fit for social media channels. I’d ask that you hang on everything I say, but I understand you can’t simply take my word for it. You hardly know me. Take a look at some other examples before any feelings of skepticism creep in.