Why You Should Outsource Your Social Media and Public Relations

Outsourcing itself is nothing new. Firms have long hired outside vendors to handle marketing, advertising, public relations, media buying, event planning, web design, printing, and many other services that are deemed by companies as “necessary functions best left to experts”. And when it comes to the time-consuming tasks of social media and public relations, seeking outside expertise is a smart idea. So we call it “in-sourcing” because the key is to integrate your outsourced services with your team and mission cohesively, fluidly, and successfully.

That’s what outsourcing does: creates an efficient 24/7 team of experts for your organization, removing workplace inefficiencies such as time, expense, and inexperience when strategizing, creating, planning, implementing, maintaining, and coordinating the intricate details of a successful PR campaign

Benefits of Outsourcing Your Public Relations/Social Media

Public Relations & Social Media is 24/7, not 9-5…

In a digital age, news, developments, and crises happen instantly and spread through social media even faster. Any positive or negative effects on your organization need to be reacted to just as quickly; as such, the reactionary nature of PR and social networking requires a 24/7 work ethic and involvement. The days of pitching media and writing press releases for eight hours a day have been trumped by trends of sending brief messages throughout the day. If you don’t have staff that reacts instantly to positive, negative, or lucrative developments, even when off typical 9-5 work hours, your organization could be left in the dust by competitors and could be pushed to the back of consumer’s minds. Hire a person or firm that understands the 24/7 nature of PR and your organization will be well-prepared for developments and happenings that are good, bad, or ugly.

… and is one of the most time consuming workplace tasks.

Social media, when performed incorrectly and inefficiently, is a huge time sink. Simply posting news items on wall’s and feed’s or trying to build your number of “Like’s” and “Tweets” isn’t enough to maintain a competitive presence in the media landscape. Creating profiles and maintaining blogs, Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, Digg, and dozens of other social networking accounts can be time consuming tasks that drain your organization’s and employee’s time for other important tasks. Worse, having employee’s involved in social networking may lead to slacking off on their own social networks, reducing work focus and ethic. Time is the biggest advantage SM agencies offer to the workplace and for companies without the resources to adequately bring a dedicated social media expert on board, outsourcing is the best option. Outsourcing your to an outside agency allows your organization to keep employee’s time and energy focused and efficient.

Saves costs (making your dollars go further).

Saving money and stretching your dollars further is a juggling task on every firm’s mind. In tough economies, firms need to do more with less. Budgets for PR and social strategy can be very tight, especially during a slow economic recovery. Yet smart companies and organizations understand that when times are tough, public relations and social media are important cost-effective alternatives to traditional marketing and advertising campaigns. By outsourcing those tasks, your firm is able to work within your budgetary framework, reduces overhead and operating costs (such as office space and employee benefits), and increases worker efficiency by allowing them to focus on more important and concentrated tasks.

These taskse aren’t “filler work for staff”.

Public relations is the art of helping the public see your organization in the most beneficial and cutting edge light. Poorly written and inexperienced public relations work shows the world just the opposite of what you intended. Employers who put less of a focus on public perception tend to take a “do it yourself” approach and assign PR and SM tasks to inexperienced workers in an effort to save money. Assigning workers that lack experience, required skill sets, and strategy tools for an extensive social media and public relations campaign is not a cost-efficient option in the long run; in fact, factoring in months of training, salary, and trial and error periods makes it a potentially expensive proposition with little to show for at the end of the day. Social media alone requires the art of being social and creative, a skill not all employee’s excel in. Bring in the experts in public relations and social media – it’s a more cost-efficient option that includes a team oriented, creative, goal-focused perspective.

Integration made easier and sensible.

Social media has redefined the traditional tactics of PR. Certain aspects of PR fuels the “going viral” part of social media and social media redesigns public relations from a press release into an online elevator speech. With the close ties between these two forms of communication, having separate people for public relations and for social media doesn’t integrate your message and brand as clearly as possible. Which is why outsourcing your campaigns to the same expert team is the most sensible option when creating an integrated campaign among all media outlets.

By outsourcing, you’ll end up working with creative experts with a 24/7 work ethic and an eye for integration, helping your business or organization save money. Outsourcing is starting to make a lot of sense.

How Public Relations Can Improve Your Business Development

Planning, Developing and Executing your business strategy should always include Public Relations. Public Relations by Webster’s definition is the business of inducing the public to have understanding for and goodwill toward a person, firm, or institution; also: the degree of understanding and goodwill achieved. With today’s focus on transparency and the use of technology to search for products and business, it is vital to business development, that a company maintain goodwill and understanding.

In health care we have used the same methods of public relations for decades (Newspapers, magazines, flyers, newsletters, radio advertisement, billboards, and TV). Media today includes numerous online methods and blogs. Communication is almost instant. Negative Public Relations can be a disaster to a business and destroy its credibility in the market place. Utilizing the appropriate tools for positive public relations on a routine basis can help build a foundation for any company to fall back on during damaging times. Hypothetical example: Have you ever watched the news and seen a business under attack for an honest and genuine mistake? Wonder what that mistake cost? How they would fix it? Question how it happened? Negative Public Relations destroys a company’s reputation and identity.

Business Development is a company’s strategy for marketing, branding, and selling its product for an operational gain. When I evaluate a company’s business development plan I am focused on three primary areas: Market/Marketing, Information Management, and Customer Experience. Only assessing one or two of these areas can lead to inaccurate data and results. All three are needed to determine the best route for success. Evaluating these three areas will allow for you and your business to identify your customer or market, decide what information is needed, and how you would promote a positive experience. Example: In health care, our client, customer, patient needs a service. Knowing what they specifically need allows us, the company, an opportunity to provide all the information so they can make an informed decision. After the service has been provided we use tools to calculate how well we provided a positive customer experience.

Public Relations (PR) has a new look! In 2012 we will see social media platforms establish a stronger presence in many business development plans. Getting your brand to market and establishing goodwill in your community can and will give your business the competitive advantage, help to mitigate risk, and allow for transparency to the public. A strong Public Relation campaign will improve your business.

Public Relations Owns Social Media

Social media provides a revolutionary set of tools for people and organisations to influence each other in a way that was not encountered before its emergence. This positions public relations as the communication discipline best suited to lead social media’s application, enabling it to destroy the old paradigms of command-and-control communication to the fullest extent possible.

The web-like, and web-driven, capabilities of social media also encapsulate the fundamental, driving methodology that underpins the application of best practice public relations, that of two-way symmetrical communication.

Command and control PR – a tautology?

Command-and-control communication is based on a one-way, essentially asymmetrical process that sees organisations ‘release’ information to their stakeholders in an ‘outwards’-oriented manner…and that is it.

If it is deemed newsworthy enough, maybe the media ‘translate’ the information on its way to reaching an organisation’s ultimate target audiences. And some organisations might employ mechanisms such as stakeholder forums or roadshows and/or attend expos/events that limited numbers of people can physically participate in.

Apart from face-to-face communication, there once wasn’t really an opportunity for people to interact with each other, engage in conversations and drive their own communication about this information. They didn’t get to, apart from in relatively small groups, ‘own’ the information and/or resulting discussion.

Activist PR

Well, hasn’t that been revolutionised! There are now citizen armies of ‘activists’ (i.e. you, me, our mums, anyone who is on the web) armed with the weapons to broadcast their knowledge, ignorance, prejudices and issues globally with a pretty low degree of difficulty.

Now, all organisations are under pressure to give up command-and-control and join in the new paradigm. This is a model that involves control of communication and reputation becoming shared between an organisation and its stakeholders.

The upside of this for organisations is that, potentially, they become more embedded in their stakeholders’ lives, their reputations are enhanced and organisation/product/service loyalty is built up. The downside is that they are, more than ever before, putting themselves out there in the ‘stakeholder environment’ and simply cannot control information/conversations and, hence, reputation and brand loyalty, as they once did (or thought they did, anyway).

Social media = best practice public relations

The modern reality is that if organisations don’t listen to and participate in these social media-driven conversations then they are:
– leaving themselves open to reputation/brand/stakeholder relationship damage
– missing opportunities to develop/enhance products/services and/or enhance reputation and/or brand loyalty.

Additionally, social media is an excellent early warning, issues management system that identifies stakeholders’ needs, wants and issues and can help organisations get in front of a reputational firestorm if it happens to be going down.

The increasing power of social media/Web 2.0 is an almost poetically beautiful encapsulation of two-way symmetrical communication, a notion devised and extended by James Grunig and his numerous academic colleagues and peers.

Two-way symmetrical communication defines public relations as a socially beneficial business discipline (no, that’s not an oxymoron), partly because it defines one of public relations professionals’ key roles as being boundary spanners. This is when PR professionals identify issues and information that will prompt an organisation to evolve as well as prompting organisational stakeholders to change – whether these changes be related to knowledge, perceptions or behaviour.

Social media reinforces the primacy and potency of public relations and its two-way symmetrical communication notion in the following ways:
– It is comprised of truly dialogic communication mechanisms
– It is democratic – no one entity (organisation or stakeholder) has any more power or ‘share of voice’ than the other (i.e. In the eyes of God all Twitter accounts are made equal)
– It facilitates communication, interaction and reputational information being driven as much by stakeholders as by organisations
– It has immense global reach and is ‘plugged in’ to a range of senior stakeholders, including politicians, media and NGOs.

PR looks at the big organisational/societal picture

Public relations professionals are the best qualified to oversee the social media mechanisms an organisation uses to communicate with its stakeholders. This is essentially because public relations puts a higher priority on the whole organisation-stakeholder relationship than marketing or advertising does. The latter, after all, is one tactical manifestation of marketing and is not cognisant of the larger issues at play.

Certainly, however, are many instances where marketers should drive the communication to promote products or services, but even that should fit into an organisation’s overarching principles (and this includes the cultural and moral principles that organisations have developed with their stakeholders, as well as whatever ‘communication principles’ exist).

One area where marketing can provide valuable insights into ‘managing’ (though being involved with, and influencing, are better ways of describing the dialectic) social media is through its superior expertise in leveraging databases. Social media ‘players’ are more fluid and organic than a relatively static database, but there are extensive synergies that come from managing large numbers of stakeholders that can be communicated to directly.

The best public relations practitioners are the ones that see the larger societal picture, society being the context in which organisations exist and what gives organisations permission to exist. Without stakeholders support and/or custom, it is highly unlikely organisations will operate to their optimum ambitions and capabilities.

At the very least, social media holds up a fractured, multi-faceted and many-peopled – but very clear, reality-capturing mirror – to an organisation.

Forget the market research, forget the preconceptions/gut-feel: social media captures the world today (well, that part of the world which has access to it) as it really is – its thoughts, its experiences, its behaviour and its intentions.

Right now, it is imperative that PR takes the opportunity the emergence of social media is presenting to prompt organisations to respect the needs, wants and issues of their stakeholders in order to survive, and prosper, in our new, technologically-fortified and conversation-empowered world.