Social Media? Pause for Traditional PR Thought

by coach on December 10, 2010

Traditional PR baby

Don't throw out the traditional PR baby with the bath water!

Hold onto that traditional PR baby before you throw him out with the bath water. At least, that’s what I thought when I read Dave Morgan’s excellent article “CBS Audience Five Times Bigger than Facebook” in Media Post’s Online Spin.

It’s a great reminder that we need to keep the best of our traditional PR practices while we embrace the shiny new toys of social media.

Morgan highlights the fact that “Facebook attracted more than 151 million unique users in the US in October, and those visitors stayed on the site for more than 42 billion minutes.”

He notes however that “CBS attracted almost 240 million viewers in October, who spent 210 billion minutes watching CBS programming.” That’s five times as many viewer minutes. In billions!

Nicholas Christakis also makes an important point about social media in his article on the networked nature of Twitter. Here, he tells how TV actress Alyssa Milano “sent out a somewhat surprising tweet” to her nearly 1.2 million followers with an Amazon link to his new book.

The result? His book sales actually declined in the weeks following her tweet. What happened to the power of viral he wondered? But when he asked new technology publisher Tim O’Reilly, with more than 1.5 million followers, to send a similar tweet it resulted in just one book sale.

His conclusion? “I think that the ability of Twitter to disseminate information is different than its ability to influence behavior” (my emphasis).

It’s a valuable lesson that we continue to learn as we integrate traditional public relations with new social media channels and strategies. Not only do we need to ensure PR measurement is always in place, we need to make certain our measurement matches up with our strategic PR. Before we throw out the traditional PR baby with the bath water.

Download HubSpot’s free ebook, “How to Monitor Your Social Media Presence in 10 Minutes a Day

In my own experience, the combination of the credibility of blogging with the engagement and reach of Twitter has had a powerful impact in growing The PR Coach PR resources website and blog in a short time. You can read all about my story in Denise Wakeman’s Build a Better Blog post today.

We’ve got a five-part social media series in progress that you may also want to read with posts including: Future of PR? 99 Super Tips to Take You ‘Social’, Social Media Crisis Management, Who Are Your PR Influencers Today, Tomorrow? and 17 Fabulous Facebook Strategies for PR Pros.

Author:  Jeff Domansky is Editor, The PR Coach

Photo credit: Stephane Raymond via Flickr

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