5 Ways the Social Media Age Changed Public Relations for Small Business

Public Relations (PR) is described as a form of communication which is used for building a positive image of an organization across their industry.social media small business But how did PR secure a position of necessity for small business?
We know the field of public relations has undergone a lot of changes over the past decade. But one thing which changed the whole PR profession is social media. Though in the greater picture, it has not only influenced change within PR, but social media has actually altered how people communicate, advertise, sell and buy.
Here are five ways Social Media changed PR forever –
1.    Made it Affordable and Accessible
There was a time when PR experts or agencies used to work for big businesses or politicians –only. This was because for small and medium-sized businesses, PR was unaffordable and large organizations were the only ones who were physically capable of engaging funds for enhanced brand management.
Social media has made it possible for small and medium businesses to get more involved in PR activities. Most of the small businesses hire young students pursuing PR or communications career pathways to take care of their online presence. This creates a more level playing field in many senses.  
2.    Integration of Public Relations and Marketing
The marketing profession was the first to make use of social media and capitalise on its exposure channels. Later, PR caught up and used it too for an alternative, creative strategy. As a result, social media brought PR and marketing professionals closer together and they both started integrating concepts and strategies to achieve results. Ultimately there is now a blurred line between the two approaches – as there is also with sales and marketing.
3.    Customer Attention and Service
Positive relationships and focusing on the customer and their experiences are the things which social media has taught companies. Customers can at any time go to social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and mention businesses – but also showcase their negative or positive customer experiences.
Activities like these has forced companies to make immediate rectification in order to avoid PR crisis and attaching a negative stigma to their brand. Social media also gets you the public opinion about your organization. It has therefore placed a considerable emphasis on attention to customer service and quality control.
4.    Direct Involvement and Instant Communication / Feedback
Social media has given a chance for customers to directly involve with a brand’s work, activities and image building. Today, a customer can present their opinions instantly to the world through social media channels.
Customer can leave comments for activities, campaigns or projects launched by different brands. They can be heavily influential with regards to sharing the content, ‘liking’ it and even subscribing to brand pages or channels for the latest updates.
Before social media’s development it was a limited, slower and less direct way of communicating. Essentially, the customer was simply able to gather information about products and services through advertisements or news through press releases and possibly email.
Social media direct messages are always there for a constant option to ask questions and receive information. And mobile access makes for practical access.
Social media also helps companies to understand how effective and attractive their content is in reaching the public, providing insights to their ideal customers and brand perception.

Business analytical tracking tools have therefore grown is requirement to develop greater understanding of audiences.

5.    Created 24/7 News Cycle
Social media has created a 24/7 news cycle for customers and their trusted brands. As brands like to post all good news and information regarding their work, products and activities they are involved in all day long. Visit any brand’s page and you can notice regular posts from time to time, this is done to stay active and visible online. This is done in order to take advantage of different time-zones and peak activity points. Maintaining a psychological presence at all times.
But it has a dark side as well because a 24/7 news cycle become a hindrance at the time of a bad news leak which creates potential for a PR crisis of sorts. These can be messy situations, making it difficult to recover and clean up. Whilst your business may be active 9-5, social media is not going to wait for you before exposing negativities and contributing to your downfall, before you’ve made it back to work.
Social media has changed PR forever and the impact it has on PR is not going to end soon. It is sure to change, adapt and develop, continuing to influence the ever-changing field.
About Nate Goodman

USA TODAY BESTSELLING AUTHOR Nathan Goodman is a freelance fiction writer and the author behind The Special Agent Jana Baker Spy-Thriller Series. "A terrorist on the loose, a country in panic, and time is running out..." FOR A FREE COPY of book one, visit the author's website.