Few communications professionals are really questioning if social media is here to stay. We can all debate how it may evolve, but its existence is no longer a question. Yet many—particularly in the B2B space—are not sure if social media needs to play a role in their PR program. I certainly understand the question. After all, even as someone who runs a PR and social content firm, I can't justify a huge investment in social content for some clients whose target prospects just plain aren't using channels like Twitter, Google+, etc. in a significant way. However, regardless of whether you need social media for yourself, your PR firm unequivocally should be using social media to do its job.
The reality is that even if your communications program is 100 percent media-relations focused, you need the people pitching the media to be active on social channels. Only by monitoring, listening and responding to the activity on social channels can media relations professionals uncover media opportunities that would otherwise go unnoticed. Consider that 90 percent of journalists report using social media tools, including Twitter, Facebook, and blogs on a daily basis, to monitor news and information (according to TEKGROUP International and Western Kentucky University). Meanwhile, 92 percent of journalists are on LinkedIn (according to Hubspot). Additionally, if your media relations program includes responding to breaking news (and it should), your PR team cannot wait for a Google Alert or news feed to alert them—by then, it could be too late for expert commentary.
In short, if your PR team isn’t there listening and finding opportunities on social media to connect on your behalf, you are not getting the most out of your media relations program. In fact, half of all journalists receive media pitches via social networking these days, according to Hubspot. At InkHouse, I would estimate that well over half of our pitches start on social media outlets and end with personal conversations. So, next time you consider enlisting the support of a PR agency for media relations, check out your prospective team's social chops. Even if you aren't going to use them to manage your organization's social presence, their level of activity and engagement reflects how tuned in they can be to PR opportunities for you.