Redefining public relations in the age of social media

July 2012
News Item
Laurence Summers
16th July 2012

Your organisation’s reputation is defined by what people read, see and hear across a wide variety of mediums. In addition to newspapers, TV and radio, blogs and social media hold huge sway over public opinion.

For example, let’s say a local restaurant is featured on the TV and you think about going there for a meal. Before you actually make a booking you might also look it up on Tripadvisor. If it has a reputation for poor service you may well decide not to go after all.

While traditional media still have a big impact on the opinions people form, the Internet enables anyone to connect and share their thoughts and experiences. This contemporary multi-platform environment means embracing these changes and re-thinking the way we communicate.

Social media presents a huge opportunity to communicate that cannot be ignored. You can form a personal relationship with an almost unlimited number of stakeholders. Your messages will be sent directly to the public without being filtered through journalists who may distort them. Through tools like Facebook and Twitter you can enter into a two-way dialogue with your followers.

Many organisations are wary of creating a Facebook or Twitter account for fear of receiving negative comments. It’s true that you cannot control what people post, but providing an accessible forum for feedback will benefit your organisation in the long run. After all, they may be saying it anyway, so you might as well be in on the conversation!

Top tips:

  • Monitor your reputation – Check blogs, social media and other websites as well as TV, radio and print.
  • Build an audience – Simply creating a Twitter page won’t get you thousands of followers.  Be creative and explore the full potential of technology by using photos, video, apps, games and relevant hashtags.
  • Interaction – Post messages and other content then ask followers for their comments, ‘likes’, photo and video responses.  Respond quickly to any negative feedback.
  • Empower your staff – Make sure they have access to social media and encourage them to play their part in building and maintaining reputation.


By Laurence Summers