10 Tips to Reach the Digital/Social PR Summit

Social media moves fast. Not just the pace of your Twitter stream, but also the speed with which digital media evolves with each passing day. A well-rounded digital communicator stays ahead of this curve by better understanding and maximizing their digital/social options, including press release tactics, SEO strategy, measurement methods, social media monitoring and analysis tactics, crisis and reputation management, and more. To that end, we've compiled 10 tips, from broad strategies to platform-specific pointers, from some of the digital experts that will speak at the June 22 Social Media Summit at the Sentry in New York City.

  1. Understand your audience: Amber Harris, director of digital communications and social media for Discovery Communications, says the key to social success is starting with your audience—getting to know them and the true reason they have chosen to like, follow or pin you. "While no social audience is homogeneous, by spending time with them and trying new things, you can chart a course to greater engagement and reach," says Harris.

  2. Experiment: Corinne Kovalsky, director of digital and social media for Raytheon Company, says if she had to give one tip to PR pros, it's to be open to new ideas and to new ways of executing them. "Partner across the function and make sure that you use surround sound to amplify your activities," says Kovalsky.

  3. Modify LinkedIn: Lori Russo, managing director of Stanton Communications, says to customize your content. "Don't rely on the default language LinkedIn uses to populate your profiles and company pages," says Russo.

  4. Multiple touch points: Albe Zakes, global VP of media at TerraCycle Inc, says marketing strategies in the 21st century are changing dramatically. Your audience is more connected, more educated and even better at ignoring advertising. "Finding unique ways to reach your consumers through a variety of touch points—from social networks to gaming to the local supermarket—is crucial for your brand’s success," says Zakes.

  5. Analyze what’s being pinned on Pinterest: Kaelin Zawilinski, digital editorial manager for Better Homes and Gardens, says it's important to see what’s popular on Pinterest so you can pin items from your site that are similar and/or might be just as appealing to Pinterest users. You can do this by looking at what's popular on Pinterest, or by seeing what is being pinned directly from your site. (See Better Home and Gardens' for an example.)

  6. Embrace visuals: Tools like Instagram can help brands create some compelling visuals that can then be posted on its Timeline profile. To start, think about using even the most daily of rituals, like a team meeting, to produce behind-the-scenes shots, or use a photo of a team member on vacation (but not inebriated). Humanizing your brand on Facebook is the essence of Timeline, and using photos are the best—and most shareable—way to do that, says Zakes.

  7. Beware of data with no direction: Create an analytics plan based on business goals and objectives before setting up any tracking. "Google Analytics offers myriad ways to slice and segment data. It’s easy to get distracted and overwhelmed by the volume of data that can be generated," says Allyson Hugley, executive VP of measurement, analytics and insights at Weber Shandwick. To avoid getting lost in the numbers, have a plan. "The data obtainable via Google Analytics will only be meaningful if it can be interpreted in the context of the desired business outcomes. Tracking progression toward goals and determining when a course correction is needed are critical," says Hugley. 

  8. Develop a social media crisis plan that integrates Twitter from the beginning: A driving fear about a crisis is that no one is in charge, and a lack of clear ownership makes crises more dangerous, says Dallas Lawrence, chief global digital strategist at Burson-Marsteller. “Only 25% of companies encourage their employees to use social media channels to share messages about the company—but I believe your employees are your single greatest asset in a crisis scenario,” says Lawrence, who recommends giving employees a how-to list for social media instead of a what-not-to-do list. 

  9. Add multimedia to press releases: To optimize news releases for social media, "Add more than one image in your press releases, so that there is a choice for bloggers and journalists," says Sally Falkow, social media strategist at Meritus Media. This allows them to choose an image that fits their take on the story. Supply source codes and URLs for all images. Also consider including charts, slide decks, PDFs and infographics. If you're including an executive's take in the release—especially if they're quotes that Steve Jobs would be proud of—include their photo and add links to their bios and social profiles.

  10. Research and use keywords: Keywords are terms people use when searching for information about the types of products or services that your organization offers. "They’re probably not just your brand names," says Laura Kempke, senior VP, Schwartz MSL Boston. "A good starting place is your Web site’s Google Analytics to see which terms are bringing people to your site and keeping them there the longest." Other resources include Google AdWords, HubSpot Keyword SEO Tool and SEOmoz Keyword Analysis. Once you know your keywords, take care to use them and their variants in Web site copy, news releases and other PR material, says Kempke.  

PR News’ two-day Social Media Summit/Taste of Tech event June 21-22 in New York City and learn more from a roster of the top digital leaders in PR—from large and small companies, nonprofit organizations and PR firms.