paigepictureToday’s guest post is by Paige Holden of BlissPR. Bliss PR specializes in creating and promoting thought leadership, using a variety of public relations and marketing communications techniques. They help their clients develop points of view, predictions, trend commentary and insights, positioning them as experts in the media and category leaders in their markets.

Top 5 Reasons B2B PR Practitioners Should Embrace Social Media

If you’ve seen any B2B public relations professionals recently, you may want to give them a gift certificate to a spa treatment or at least a pat on the back.  They’re feeling more than a little shell shocked.

I was, too.  Social Media is just beginning to hit B2B PR and our industry is scrambling to find our footing and help our clients. But it’s time to stop stalling and start learning.  Here’s why:

Traditional media is dying. It’s not a secret that traditional media is either dying or going online. This presents a slew of new challenges for public relations practitioners who rely on the media to help communicate clients’ messages. In our firm, we don’t throw splashy events or launch exciting new products. We clarify and refine complex stories for niche audiences. With business publications folding, our small universe is getting smaller and, unless we find new ways to communicate, we won’t be sustainable.

Know the news before it breaks. News breaks faster online than anywhere else. When the plane crashed in the Hudson River, the story was discussed ad nauseum on Twitter before it even hit television. Monitoring breaking news for my experts is a huge part of my job. I find that Twitter, and other networks, keeps me ahead of the media time curve.

Networking online is more efficient. PR is an industry fueled by networking, but who has time to go to out every night? Between Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and blogs, there is no excuse to be a stranger. Every day I touch base with peers, thought leaders and the media which helps me not only develop stronger relationships, but also become a smarter professional.

Social media belongs in the PR bucket. Public relations professionals have an opportunity to learn it, embrace it and start building services around it before another industry steals it. There has been some debate over which “bucket” social media should fall into, but I adamantly believe public relations should own it. Sure, the implementation is different, and it does get “techy” at times, but social media is first and foremost a communications vehicle. The principles inherent in using social media – creativity, transparency and responsiveness – are the same philosophies that we use in PR every day.

“Tribes” have replaced traditional audiences: As Seth Godin explains in his new book, the online community is actually composed of millions of smaller groups of “tribes” – people who are passionately devoted to their own interests. Whether it’s shoes, personal finance or accounting law, there is a group of people waiting to be found and activated. Understanding how to serve these new communities must be part of every PR professional’s “tool kit.”

Counseling nervous clients. Clients see social media as a PR tool, so they will ask you about it.  Because clients are likely nervous about social media, it’s important to “get” it before you sell it. Unfortunately, market demand for social media has incented people into selling it as a service before they are ready, which is not only dishonest, but it can also yield poor results that will send clients packing. Surely let your clients know that social media is all about testing and learning, but you shouldn’t be mastering the basics on their dime.

What do you think…what’s holding you back from using social media tools? Or do you have some “getting started” lessons you can share with us?

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