When it comes to communicating a message in today’s digital world, it’s obvious that technology plays a critical role.
Around the time that PR emerged—before it was even referred to as public relations—there were far less technological avenues available for practitioners to publicize their clients. Sure, telephones, televisions, and radios existed, but the idea of social media, smartphones, personal computers, and instantaneous communication were far off. Many of us take these technologies for granted when we should be taking complete advantage of them.
For instance, some brands are under the impression that being active and present across each and every form of social media is necessary, when this can have a detrimental effect on their business and overall brand identity. The same principle applies to technological trends as well.
In a nutshell, certain social channels just aren’t fit for some companies—just take a look at Inc’s list of companies that totally messed up on social media last year.
Take Starbucks’ recent attempt at involving itself in a global discussion over race and equality with a hashtag that they placed on coffee cups before serving customers. While this seems like a worthy effort on Starbucks’ behalf to spark a global conversation, it also had major negative implications for the brand as a whole. CEO Howard Schultz’s judgment came into question for approving this campaign, while racial and ethnic groups nation-wide and beyond expressed their offense at Starbucks’ efforts.
The lesson to be learned is:
If a brand maintains presence on the correct social channels, rather than spreading themselves thin across every channel, more effort can be targeted toward streamlining content that is consistent with brand identity and values.
So often, brands try to juggle too many social channels, the result being that their messages appear jumbled. For example, a financial institution may not want to build a Pinterest following because their target audience is not looking to them for DIY project help.
If we are all to be successful practitioners of public relations and communications, then we need to be strategic in deciding which avenues of social media and technology are smartest in terms of ensuring the success and reach of our clients. Being a part of an ever-changing field that utilizes ever-changing technology is challenging, but if managed correctly it can also be extremely rewarding for all.
**Written by Public Relations intern Joseph Martelli, Public Relations at Boston University (Class of 2015).