The growth of social media in scale and influence has challenged brands and businesses externally and internally. As business has adapted, the social media role of the PR and comms professional can become ill-defined. However, social media cannot be neglected by PR and comms teams, insists Gorkana’s head of digital, Alistair Wheate, as he revealed his top five tips for PR and Comms teams when monitoring and analysing social media in a Gorkana webinar this week, writes Matt Peake.

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“Internal communication is important,” stresses Alistair Wheate, Gorkana’s head of digital. He believes that social media cannot be ignored by successful PR and comms professionals even if it is seen as the frontline for other departments, such as customer service.

To ensure success with social media PR and comms activity, he recommends the following five tips:

Understand how the public might react to a story as it plays out through social media
This is best illustrated by easyJet’s response to the Egyptian air disaster earlier in the year. Although, easyJet was set to launch a campaign celebrating its 20 year anniversary when a Russian airliner crashed in Egypt, the brand was sensitive to the contex and quick to react. EasyJet’s CEO Carolyn McCall’s responded quickly and ensured its passengers, marooned in Egypt, had as much information as possible as she said: “regardless of [cause] we had to know what the facts were, as we had 4,500 passengers out there”.

Social media is not democratic – not all customers are equal
As British Airways found out to its embarrassment, not all customers can be treated as the same on social media without a backlash. After complaining via Twitter about the airline’s customer service, legendary former Indian cricketer Sachin Tendulkar was asked by BA to give them his full name and address. Cricket fans, and others, were quick to point out the mistake.

Start at the core – understand the motivations and actions of your main influencers, opinion formers and target audience
In light of dealing with the recent data breaches in the TalkTalk cyber-attack, PR and comms teams should concentrate on monitoring what key journalists and opinion-formers are doing and talking about so they are equipped if anything new, or unexpected, happens. This means targeting a few hundred journalists and opinion-formers at most and ‘listening’ to their social media conversation.

No medium is an island – analysis of ‘traditional’ media shouldn’t be done in isolation and should include social
From television to press, other media can power social media content and interactions. So, Wheate recommends, you should compare sentiment for social versus mainstream media, as well as analyse the activity of media influencers and industry experts.

Be proactive – react to the news agenda to provide commentary and insight
Lawyer Alan Price (Operations Director of the Peninsula Group), following the announcement that Zayn Malik was leaving boy band One Direction, Tweeted: ‘Hard to believe but we have received calls from bosses whose staff requested compassionate leave over Zayn Malik leaving 1D’. Reaching out, also via Twitter, to Alex Bell (Business Journalist at Manchester Evening News) meant Peninsula was associated with the issue of compassionate leave, and related areas, as other journalists pursued the story.

A recorded version of the webinar can be found here.

Read the original article on the Gorkana website here.

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