PR in the age of so­cial me­dia

ArabAd - - CONTENTS -

From the rise of dig­i­tal PR to the pop­u­lar­i­sa­tion of an in­flu­encer-based online cul­ture, there is no ques­tion that so­cial me­dia has sig­nif­i­cantly dis­rupted the field of Public Re­la­tions in re­cent years. To know more about the evolv­ing dy­nam­ics of this re­la­tion­ship in Le­banon and the re­gion, Arabad reached out to PR Spe­cial­ist Tony Abou Ghaz­aly, Founder of The Agenda Beirut, for first­hand in­sight on the topic.

Based on your per­sonal ex­pe­ri­ence and ex­per­tise, in what ways do you think the rise of so­cial me­dia has in­flu­enced the PR in­dus­try in the re­gion?

The rise of so­cial me­dia ac­tu­ally rev­o­lu­tionised the PR in­dus­try. Dig­i­tal PR plays a hu­mon­gous role nowa­days. All types of com­pa­nies are heav­ily fo­cus­ing on the pres­ence of blog­gers and in­flu­encers at their events, just like and even more than their reg­u­lar PR, be­cause they know that posts made by th­ese in­flu­encers will get them a big­ger reach.

What are the key prin­ci­ples of uti­liz­ing so­cial me­dia as a PR tool for both brands and in­di­vid­u­als?

The key prin­ci­ple is com­mu­ni­cat­ing the brand’s mes­sage in a cor­rect way. So­cial me­dia is very crit­i­cal and any mis­step on it can go vi­ral. Blog­gers and so­cial me­dia plat­forms should be very well briefed about all the de­tails of the cam­paigns/events they pro­mote. Also, the choice of plat­forms and in­flu­encers is equally cru­cial, as both have to be in har­mony with the brand’s iden­tity.

On the other hand, what kind of chal­lenges has so­cial me­dia im­posed upon mod­ern-day PR pro­fes­sion­als?

So­cial me­dia is mov­ing at a very fast pace. This is a big chal­lenge for PR pro­fes­sion­als as they have to al­ways be up-to-date, adapt quickly and even mon­i­tor on the spot with all the de­vel­op­ments and live coverage op­tions on so­cial me­dia nowa­days.

Many peo­ple to­day mar­ket them­selves as ‘in­flu­encers’ on so­cial me­dia plat­forms. But what are the char­ac­ter­is­tics that make up a ‘real’ in­flu­encer amid such an over­sat­u­rated scene?

This has been a very con­tro­ver­sial is­sue, but we now have of­fi­cial re­ports from so­cial me­dia plat­forms such as the ‘im­pres­sions’ that an in­flu­encer reaches. Com­pa­nies can ask for screen­shots of the im­pres­sions, which can never be bought, unlike likes and fol­low­ers. There are many soft­ware pro­grammes that can tan­gi­bly clar­ify the mat­ter. How do you iden­tify key in­flu­encers to col­lab­o­rate with as part of your work?

The engagement of the in­flu­encer is very im­por­tant. But I am never in­fat­u­ated by the num­ber of fol­low­ers as much as the neat iden­tity an in­flu­encer has. The qual­ity of the page is very im­por­tant as well. Over­all, a com­bi­na­tion of good engagement and good con­tent is prefer­able.

Do you be­lieve there are cer­tain ethics that in­flu­encers should stick to when it comes to pro­mot­ing third-party prod­ucts/ser­vices on so­cial me­dia?

Of course, the in­flu­encer rep­re­sents the brand. There­fore, if any mis­un­der­stand­ing hap­pens they should def­i­nitely com­mu­ni­cate it to the Pr/brand and never harm it online. I par­tic­u­larly em­pha­sise the good choice of in­flu­encer, which comes from study­ing his/her col­lab­o­ra­tions and ask­ing about their pre­vi­ous ex­pe­ri­ences very well. At the end of the day, some peo­ple just want at­ten­tion on so­cial me­dia, so they would go about and post spicy in­cor­rect piece of con­tent or scan­dal about a cer­tain brand to draw at­ten­tion.

Build­ing upon your pro­fes­sional jour­ney, in what ways do you see so­cial me­dia shap­ing the fu­ture of PR?

This is just the be­gin­ning of a new era in PR and mar­ket­ing. Off­line me­dia will never die and I strongly and firmly be­lieve in its per­pet­ual im­por­tance, but there is a def­i­nite shift hap­pen­ing and so­cial me­dia is be­com­ing a main tool in ev­ery brand’s com­mu­ni­ca­tion.

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