Share This

Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals
by CIPR Social Media Panel (editor Stephen Waddington)
264 pages, Wiley, 2012

‘Share This’ is a practical handbook for PR professionals written by the CIPR Social Media Panel. The contributors are of 24 practitioners from a multitude of backgrounds, edited by managing director of Speed Communications, Stephen Waddington. Split into 26 chapters, the authors explore the practical application of social media networks, measuring their influence, how the industry is changing as a result and skills needed for the future.

Created to show how public relations can realise its full potential, it will be just as valuable for students as for professionals.

An introduction to social networks by Katy Howell, managing director of the social media consultancy ‘Immediate Future’, gives readers an insight into how fundamental social media has become thanks to our innate desire to be connected. She explains the social media landscape as ‘an ecosystem of differing styles and types of network’ all having in common ‘principles founded on web 2.0 technology that ensure communications are two-way, interactive and above all, shareable’.

Using this knowledge PR practitioners must not feel daunted. Although social media comes with a complex landscape of risks, they can be outweighed, as it is now one of the most important mediums to build relationships with stakeholders and influence communications.

Katy explains that understanding the different types of social networks is imperative in PR, she defines blogs, micro blogs, virtual worlds, geo-social networks and more to highlight how they promote a sense of community and increase our ability to share information.

Of course the words ‘social media’ cannot be uttered without thinking of the ‘power couple’ Facebook and Twitter. Chapters by Robin Wilson, social media director at McCann Erickson Manchester, and Alex Lacey, senior corporate comms manager at Herbalife, demonstrate how neither should be ignored by organisations that have relationships with the public.

Robin looks at the ‘global phenomenon’ that is Facebook and how brands can use it to earn audience engagement and manage reputation. He explains how brands can build communities, engage with fans, amplify a message and ultimately sell products and services, using relevant examples of successful Facebook campaigns. He also gives excellent tips for planning Facebook page strategies and in a final overriding thought states ‘The most successful uses of Facebook all tend to have in common: defined goals, clear strategies and a thorough understanding of what appeals to the audience’. Perfectly summing up how brands should be using Facebook to enhance the goals of an organisation.

Alex’s chapter on ‘Twitter: the unstoppable rise of micro blogging’ explains the site as ‘an unavoidable communications tool’. He shows how Twitter has risen to become an extraordinarily powerful platform by changing how we consume news and interact with organisations and celebrities. He explains how the micro blogging site has altered the way the news is broken, since journalists are turning from newswires to Twitter instead.

This, of course, has a knock on effect of how PR professionals can pitch stories to the press. He shows not only how Twitter can be used as an engagement tool, but as a transformational one too. He says ‘Twitter can draw people’s attention to an issue and gather support for it faster than any other tool’. We have all seen it happen with topics in the news or about a celebrity; a great case in this chapter is how Twitter helped to gain worldwide support of the Egyptian and Libyan populations during the 2011 ‘Arab Spring’, exemplifying how significant Twitter can be for global issues as well as brands. Alex stresses the importance of brands being present on Twitter by writing ‘It’s here, and it is going to happen whether or not you’re involved’.

Another notable chapter is by corporate communications consultant Stuart Bruce on ‘modern media relations and social media newsrooms’, aptly describing the journey of how social media news releases were created and how traditional online press rooms have now been modernised too act as an archive or ‘hub’ for content. By explaining how best to use a social media newsroom, again giving relevant examples, he states that ‘the modern media no longer just need a good story, but are also looking for interactive and multimedia content’ showing how social media has evolved and that PR’s must keep this in mind when identifying news opportunities.

The previous chapters are all relevant in chief executive of RealWire Adam Parker’s ‘media relations modernised’ giving an in depth ‘how to’ of using social media to identify influencers on Twitter. Communications consultant Julio Romo’s chapter on pitching using social media gives great easy-to-follow tips on a new important PR skill.

As the book goes on to give more tips on embracing this new era of Public Relations it really does encompass everything. By either breaking it down into standalone chapters or reading the entire handbook cover to cover, you are sure to learn invaluable skills that are crucial for PR practitioners today and in the future. The authors have imparted their expertise to create a definitive handbook, although focused on a fast-moving topic. The skills and examples given will be transferable for years to come.

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