When Snapchat, the ephemeral messaging service, launched in 2011 the collective response among PR pros was decidedly lukewarm. Communicators were cool to the idea of a social platform in which the message disappears after less than a day.
But PR execs are probably going to have to change their tune about Snapchat, which is now seeing a new round of funding that would value the company as high as $19 billion, according to Bloomberg.
The Los Angeles-based social platform, which delivers more than 700 million disappearing "snaps" daily, wants to raise as much as $500 million to reach that valuation. With those numbers, Snapchat would be ranked behind only mobile car-booking application Uber Technologies Inc. and Chinese smartphone maker Xiaomi Corp. in valuation of startups backed by venture capital firms, according to data compiled by researcher CB Insights.
As Uber has disrupted the transportation industry, Snapchat could end up disrupting the social media sector. Communicators of all stripes need to prepare.
PR execs on the brand side first need to invest the time to figure out whether Snapchat is an appropriate media vehicle for their products and services and, if so, budget accordingly.
PR managers on the client side have to determine—depending on the account, of course—whether they should offer Snapchat as a new platform to sell to buyers (and figure out a proper rate).
Snapchat seems to be riding the crest of a wave, as more and more consumers (read: millennials) get conditioned to the idea that their online messages should be short-lived.
The rub for brands and organizations is how to craft their messages so they fit within that framework and serve as a springboard for bringing people to alternative media channels such as websites and other social platforms.
To learn more about to how to make Snapchat work for your brand or organization, register for the PR News Webinar, Create Snapchat Content and Reach New Audiences. The Webinar takes place March 19, from 1:30-3 p.m. ET.
For more information on Snapchat, check out the February 23 issue of our premium print product.
Follow Matthew Schwartz on Twitter: @mpsjourno1