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Vivian Li/李雯雯

PR Manager/公关经理

Tel:0086 010 83907451


Social media key to public relations

In the last few decades or so, most organisations have sought to execute their public-relations programmes through traditional mass media - a mix of print, TV, and radio - in a bid to generate positive publicity about their brand, products, and or services.

In more recent times, the World Wide Web has become an important addition to the communication mix as more and more local consumers gain Internet access. However, organisations are paying special attention to social media as a key part of how they implement their public-relations strategy, especially given the growing number of Jamaicans who now have access to affordable mobile Internet. According to Digicel estimates, at least one million Jamaicans currently use data on their mobile phones today, and I'm guessing that in addition to accessing emails, most of them interact with Facebook or Twitter.

This is certainly good news for the public- relations arms of corporate entities, especially since the focus of PR locally has wisely shifted from mere publicity generation and information sharing to building relationships with publics.

A strong understanding of brand personality and positioning in the marketplace is key. Social-media channels are nothing short of a dream come true for PR practitioners and marketers operating in consumer-driven industries.

connecting with consumers

So more than announcing new products and services and the associated features in a press release, companies can truly connect with customers and bring their brand personality to life in clever interactive ways. Using social media to generate meaningful conversations with fans or followers, a fast-food restaurant isn't only selling fried chicken, but also fun, immediate satisfaction, and convenience; a health food restaurant isn't simply promoting a new lunch special on wheat wraps, but also facilitating an important conversation on a healthy lifestyle.

Mobile companies are not just offering phone credit, data, and cool handsets, but also easy conversation, convenience, connection with cultures around the world, a ticket on the technology superhighway, and more innovative ways to say 'I love you' to that special someone.

Thankfully, local companies are beginning to embrace social media. Observe the pages of leading social media brands such as Digicel, Island Grill, Jamaica Gleaner, Jamaica Observer, and National Commercial Bank and you will see brands that are encouraging conversation.

If I happen to miss a business conference, product launch, football match, or cultural festival, I need only to go on my Twitter timeline to get both the real-time happenings as well as undiluted feedback from my trusted friends and colleagues. And of course, that kind of feedback trumps anything and everything a brand will tell you about itself. A customer espousing the merits of a new product or lauding a brand in the public domain is the PR practitioner's dream.

interactive feedback

How companies respond to this new flood of interactive feedback will make or break the core of their PR activities. A press release and captioned photo published in print are still very relevant and boast the extra edge in terms of credibility, but only for the meagre minority who still read the newspapers. TV and radio interviews remain the king and queen of mass media in terms of reach and impact, but costs remain prohibitive for smaller brands, and cable TV has gobbled up much of the local audience.

On the other hand, a well-crafted tweet or post (as part of a larger social-media strategy) that goes viral is beginning to trump traditional mass media and buck the awareness meter. Moreover, these viral messages inevitably make their way into mass-media channels, given the scale of interest.

Take the performance of sweet-spirited Tessanne Chin on The Voice, for example. People who didn't even know what The Voice was were suddenly having conversations directly and on Twitter or Facebook about the show and Tessanne's chances.

It is also important to grow your fan base. Recent comments in the media and online suggest that the size of your fan base is not as important as the level of engagement - meaning likes, shares, reach, etc. I suggest that, perhaps, they are of equal importance. Size matters for the simple fact that you can reach more of your customers cheaply. Organisations should encourage their customers to like them on Facebook and follow them on Twitter in order to consistently build and manage their database of fans or followers.

Plus size in the social media world is tantamount to market share in the real world. It gives bragging rights and adds the kind of value that only advertisers can truly appreciate.


Vivian Li

PR Manager

Tel: +86 010 8390 7451

Mobile: +86 13041030670