When social media first stepped into the marketing mix, the world of PR experienced a healthy jolt. Public relations truly became public—any professional with internet access and a laptop could create meaningful content and connect directly with journalists or media outlets, or one-to-one with customers in a way that produced powerful results. Thanks to blogs, Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram, there was a way to sidestep the common obstacle of having a minimal marketing/PR budget.
Not every PR professional, team and department embraced social media in the beginning. Many viewed social media as a lower-level marketing practice, some felt it wasn’t reputable enough, some didn’t think social media and PR went hand-in-hand, and some simply didn’t want to learn new practices. Many PR pros were forced to pay attention to social media when their clients or companies experienced media crises. Slick press kits, savvy pitches and pretty press releases don’t matter when complaints are pouring in through social media, non-company approved videos are going viral, or online reviews are going south. Social media were here to stay and PR started sinking its teeth in.
PR embraces web marketing
My own journey into PR was purely accidental. I sold online advertising in the dot-com boom…and bust. I transitioned into buying advertising and managing customer acquisition, and mastered web marketing through experience. At that time, PR was off-limits to web marketers, unless it was to add a press release to the press page of a website.
A few years into teaching web marketing courses, I was desperately searching for a new book for my students and stumbled upon David Meerman Scott’s The New Rules of Marketing and PR. It opened my eyes to PR and solidified my evangelism for quality content. I started dabbling in PR, being transparent with my clients that I was not promising them media mentions, but was instead re-purposing work that was already done for more visibility, credibility and salability, like taking press releases and re-purposing them into blog posts and sharing the links as social media posts. I layered my search engine optimization (SEO) expertise over press releases before they went live to increase the chance that releases would be indexed by search engines.