In The Run for Success, What's More Helpful PR or Social Media?
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Whether it is a headline in the news or a social media viral campaign, who doesn’t want to be in the limelight? For entrepreneurs, being in the spotlight makes their brand more popular with their consumers and also builds trust.
Most entrepreneurs believe in starting off with in-house social media strategies but often ignore their PR strategies. Many others do not begin work on their PR or social media strategies until they have a funding story to tell. But what comes first? Should they hire a PR in the beginning or go for a social media campaign first?
Entrepreneur India spoke to experts about how should startups go about their outreach strategies.
What You Should Consider
It all depends on the business need. If you are looking at building a new category and want the model to get credibility (from relevant stakeholders) in the first six months, then a robust PR strategy is a must, believes Anshul Sushil, co-founder, BoringBrands.
But that’s not the only thing you should be considering, he said. “Take a PR plunge only when the entrepreneur/founder can dedicate at least 4 hours a week for this. The founder is the face of the business and if they are not ready to give time than there is no point doing PR,” said Sushil.
He reiterates that investing in PR is not like social media where one can approve the strategy and let agency or other core business employees do the execution. It demands time, discretion, interest, and patience to turn into a success.
Agreeing with him, Rohan Ayyar, Regional Marketing Manager India, SEMrush, said that the right time is as soon as the company starts branding itself. “Today, a company needs digital media coverage even if it has a fledgling presence online. In the age of the internet, if you don't control your brand messaging, someone else will,” he said.
Creating the Balance Between PR and Social Media
Another thing that most of the entrepreneurs fail to understand is that PR is a holistic approach, believes Sushil. Coverage in the media can do much more than social media for a business. “If leveraged well, PR can drive credibility and awareness amongst the relevant stakeholders, including potential customers, investors, et al,” he said.
He added that social media, on the other hand, is largely to build a relationship with customers. “So, the question that entrepreneur needs to answer before orchestrating a PR strategy is what phase of business they are in- Are they creating a new industry? What type of customers do they need?,” said Sushil.
Since communication is the basis of PR, obviously both of social media and PR influence each other, believes Ayyar. The difference is, social media's influence on PR is more real-time, while PR needs a strategic approach to social media.
Integration of both channels is important believes Sushil. A consumer spends almost equal time on mobile, desktop and outdoor. Therefore, a great new-age campaign is when your social media strategy compliment PR and vice versa, he said. “If you are planning to run an emotional social media campaign, a press release to influencers can give a spring to the social media campaign. And if the PR outreach is as simple as funding, a route that rides on a social media channel can give far much better impressions and reach than a vanilla announcement,” he said.
Devising Your Social Media Strategy
In a time and age, where businesses run thanks to social media, one cannot ignore the platform. From your launch to the success of your product, social media will help you stay connected with the audience. Social media is a channel that affects multiple business functions, including PR, customer service, branding and marketing. Fundamentally, there are two aspects to social media: broadcasting and response. “You need separate strategies for original posts (broadcast messages) and responses (to customer questions or interactions) under each business function. For responses, an organization needs to have general guidelines in place, as opposed to a fixed strategy,” said Ayyar.
Devising a social media strategy is no longer a choice, but a need. As consumers spend more time on social media, the platforms become the go-to source for product and brand information. “But before jumping the guns, it’s important to understand the objective. Social media actions undertaken without a clear business and customer objective can be elusive of ROI,” said Sushil. It is important that the brand also finds the relevance behind posts or campaigns and not just post randomly just to keep customers engaged.