Public relations activities have become an entirely different kettle of fish since the changeover from traditional PR to online PR began. While the obvious difference is the medium through which marketing communications occur, there are other, more meaningful, dissimilarities.
Communication between the company and consumers is no longer a monologue, but has become a dialogue as the audience is now better connected to organisations. Marketing and PR professionals now receive information from the public rather than simply sending it. Ignoring this opportunity can be detrimental to a company, while fully embracing it can improve chances of success.
Word-of-mouth communications are bigger than ever, as more people can connect with each other via the internet in order to pass on reviews. Blogs and social profiles allow for people to tell a much wider range of people exactly what they think of recent purchases than they would be able to reach while having a rant or rave down at the local pub.
Information is incredibly easy to access, as it’s all available online. If the audience is unsatisfied with the information provided by a company, it takes a matter of seconds to run a Google search on the given topic.
While a company is in charge of what appears on its social profiles, there is less control online in other respects. There are a vast number of forums and blogs out there, meaning that it is difficult, if not impossible, to keep track of and respond to relevant posts. However, Google and online reputation management tools allow for monitoring in a way that is not possible with traditional media.
The online community requires an almost immediate response in crisis situations. Many brands have developed social media governance systems in order to tackle such matters. Being able to address damaging comments on social media in a timely and friendly fashion is greatly advantageous.
While these differences should, of course, play a role in PR related decision making, it is important to remember that the underlying idea has not changed – it’s still about differentiating your company from the masses and improving the public perception of your brand.