Navigating the Digital Frontier: Public Relations Strategies for the Social Media Age

 In Marketing

Here are a few ways that you can best leverage your PR firm to help your company succeed in the modern age of social media.

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HUMAN BEINGS ARE inherently social, as evidenced by the invention of communication technologies from the telephone to social media platforms like TikTok and Instagram. Once you understand that the world is filled with a unique species that feel a great deal of comfort from social connectivity, it should be no surprise that half the planet spends over 2 hours a day using social media platforms like TikTok, Instagram and Facebook.

However, the rapid proliferation of social media platforms is flooding online environments with advertising and branding efforts that the world’s 4.5 billion social media users are becoming adept at ignoring. With 1.35 million new tech startups saturating the global markets, social media is an industry that is still very much in a growth stage.

It’s a phenomenon that has organizations desperately searching for new ways of using social media to engage with consumers, but some are finding it increasingly difficult to navigate this online jungle on their own. Fortunately, public relations (PR) agencies are proving to be vital resources that can help organizations understand not only the modern dynamics of the social media realm but also how to use it to promote their brands successfully, organically and with paid social marketing.

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Here are a few ways that you can best leverage your PR firm to help your company succeed in the modern age of social media.

Managing the Speed of Today’s News Cycle

The incredible rate of speed at which news can now be disseminated to the furthest reaches of the globe is mind-boggling, and it almost always happens via social media. Have you ever heard of something “going viral?” It’s an event that can create overnight sensations (think the “ALS Ice Bucket Challenge”), but it can also completely destroy something in no time at all (think “Fyre Fest” and the infamous cheese sandwich). You get the point.

In today’s social media world, organizations must understand that the distribution of news, whether good or bad, happens at breakneck speed. Fortunately, forward-thinking PR agencies are well-equipped with the networks and expertise to manage this hyperactive news cycle properly.

Tip: Make it a point to coordinate closely with your PR agency to time your announcements optimally. Brief them on potential upcoming news so they can prepare rapid yet carefully crafted responses.

Leading with Transparency

In the modern marketplace, organizations need to have a strategy to connect with their target audience if they hope to achieve sustainable levels of success. These tactics must expand beyond setting up a website and calling it a day. Today, social media is an environment where brands connect with consumers, influencers, partners, investors and more. In this realm, two-way information exchanges can take place — meaning consumers can quickly learn more about the brands they’re interested in and vice versa. In other words, social media is where PR firms are helping companies achieve a greater level of transparency.

Tip: Work with your PR firm to schedule regular updates on your initiatives and achievements. It keeps the line of communication open and demonstrates corporate accountability.

Use of Influencers

The dynamics of modern PR have evolved dramatically in the wake of social media’s explosive growth and “influencers” continue to play a significant role in this evolutionary process. Ten years ago, it was reserved exclusively for celebrities and prominent bloggers. Today, there are over 500 million influencers on the web. The size of their followers can vary from a few thousand to millions.

Want the numbers? 70% of the world’s Gen Z and millennial consumers follow influencers on social media, and half of millennials trust the recommendations that they make. Those numbers are too big to ignore. A good PR agency has the expertise to understand their clients’ brands and how the world perceives them.

Tip: Ask your PR firm to identify influencers who align with your brand values and customer base. This ensures the partnerships are mutually beneficial and resonate with the audience.

Social Media, Public Relations and Crisis Management

In modern crisis management, you can’t mention public relations without mentioning social media in the same breath. Earlier, we discussed the rate of speed at which bad news can travel on social media. That’s a crucial reason for more organizations to take a proactive approach to building a relationship with a PR firm before something bad happens.

The value in these relationships is the fact that PR firms are often highly skilled in applying social media strategies that are effective in sharing positive company news far and wide. However, when there is negative coverage on the company or when the company makes a public mistake, PR firms roll up their sleeves and get to work on crisis management in two important ways:

• Responding Immediately: “Be Quick or Be Dead” rings quite true in our marketplace. If a company is going to comment, the longer it takes to respond to a crisis on social media, the more catastrophic it can get. Companies that unexpectedly come under fire can draw on the expertise of a PR firm with the experience to quickly distribute refined messages on social media channels that can help mitigate damage quickly and decisively.

• Using social media platforms, PR firms gain access to a vast audience of consumers to demonstrate their client’s transparency and determination in finding an actionable solution to a problem.

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In an age where consumers are becoming increasingly more demanding, your success in the social media sphere can significantly depend on how well you can align with their expectations for transparency, relevance and integrity. Learning how to maximize your partnership with a PR firm can be your key to navigating this complex landscape effectively.


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