Social media: The Big Five and the future of public relations

Social media’s Big Five (Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn) changed the life of PROs in ways that could be both cataclysmic and awesome.

Cataclysmic in the sense that the pace at which communication takes place has developed from snail mail to real-time social media updates.  The result?  News often reaches the journalist before the official press release lands in their mailbox.

Take the recent Academy Awards ceremony, which I followed on a direct broadcast on television, the official web site and on social media, as an example.  Four decades ago, before South African television, the public had to buy the newspaper the following morning to see which movie is considered the best movie of the year.  Today you simply log onto social media and use the hash tag #oscars2017 to see the results before it is even announced on the so-called direct television broadcast.  It is clear why social media could ultimately be disastrous for the PRO who does not keep up with digital technology.

At the same time it can be the most awesome thing that has yet happened in the industry if you are a PRO who is driven by the competitiveness of pitching the perfect news story in less than 140 characters.

The future of PR is a fusion of old and new.  The ‘R’ in PR does, after all, stand for Relations.  Face-to-face meetings and telephone calls are as important as that 30-second YouTube pitch-video that you’ve tweeted.

The popular PRO of the future can hot up headlines and sell ice to Eskimos, yet at the same time be tactful and show respect to the journalist who they so heavily rely on for getting the desired publicity.

All-in-all the industry has been thrown into the deep seas of the digital age and only those PROs who can find innovative and creative ways to practice their profession will swim to victory.

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