A recent Burson-Marsteller study found that “79 percent of the largest 100 companies in the Fortune Global 500 index are using at least one of the most popular social media platforms: Twitter, Facebook, YouTube or corporate blogs.” Embedded below is a presentation on the facts and figures of the same from the Burson-Marsteller blog.
Closer home, Kenya Airways is among the leading big businesses that are flirting with social media (find them on twitter @Kenya Airways.) In the next few months, many more companies will be joining the social media bandwagon especially with realization that a majority of their Kenyan Consumers are indeed very active online and not just online but that they also spend a majority of their time online on social media sites. This brings into light the work Kenyan PR Agencies ought to be doing with regard to social media.
The PR -Squared website which is among the leading websites in social media circles puts it best when it comes to PR and Social Media:
“Invariably, as a PR agency, the answer has been “Media Coverage” although in recent years the meaning of “media coverage” has morphed due to Social Media“
The great assumption by PR agencies in Kenya has been that all battles are fought and won on the Mainstream Media. This may have been true when we spent all or the majority of our leisure time watching TV. Back then, it was because we had no choice. However, times have changed and TV and Radio are becoming less and less our preferred choice or medium of not only communication but also as a source of information. What this now means for PR Firms is that they need to shift their attention from the medium we are leaving to the medium we are participating in now, social media.
Most businesses hiring PR Firms today and increasingly in future will seek out firms that acknowledge both frontiers with which they must win the war of perception; the more traditional radio and TV (which are not yet obsolete) and the new media that we know as social media.
The tragedy for most PR Firms will be that they will fail in combating this new media more so because the rules of traditional media that most of these PR Firms are used to do not apply in social media circles.
For instance, a press statement does not cut it anymore. Social Media is not about you sitting on some table with Microphones from all TV and Radio stations reading a well scripted press statement thinking that all Kenyans will watch it and understand or sympathize. NO! Social Media is not a one way street. It is a two way street where it takes more than a couple of back and forth in the thread section for you to convince your readers who are adept at reading between the lines and unearthing the minefields that you are trying to tiptoe around. When it comes to social channels, even if these press statements are released through corporate blogs without as much as allowing comments to come through freely or discussions around it to ensue, you still lose. Alas! it not about the technology but what the technology allows its users to do; converse, discuss, share etc.
Social Media is viral. It cannot be halted the way Media Companies are asked to hold a story before releasing it or through some court order stopping publication while the aggrieved explore counter measures. No! Social Media explodes in your face and only those best equipped with means and ways of acting and reacting in social media will survive the onslaught and even turn it in their favour. For the ill prepared – those who are not monitoring/listening online – the viral nature especially of bad reputations of their clients finds them off-guard and usually too late in the game to salvage the reputation. So for PR companies, some reporter calling the company requesting to you to give your side of the story in some expose about the client company rarely if at all happens with social media. Here, you must be proactive in seeking out not only the positive but also the negative that people are saying about your clients online and mitigate it or turn it in your clients favour.
Unlike traditional PR practices, Social Media is not a hit and run kind of girl. No! Here, you stay, you participate, you engage, and you give value if you are to make any headway in terms of restoring a lost reputation or winning brand loyalty.The war on company images is always fought where the customers are talking and today that platform is social media. Kenyan PR companies therefore need to familiarize themselves with the various social media channels and engage there because TV and Radio’s time are virtually over. And it is increasingly likely that the next crisis their clients will be calling on them to resolve will have its epicentre in a social media channel. The real views and reviews are being tweeted, shared, emailed, forwarded, discussed in a forum or on the comment section of a blog. Therefore these are the places to be.
What say you? Is your PR Firm Social Media Savvy?