When it comes to media relations, it's easy to think your job is all about journalists and coverage. But really, it's about the mission: to improve a brand’s relationship with the public.
Sometimes, as we become master PR practitioners, we forget the multitude of ways that other fields—such as social media and influencer marketing—can improve and enhance other core aspects of our jobs.
Social media can offer a treasure trove of stories because it brings you closer to those who are using and loving your product. And influencers can also make for great brand ambassadors on platforms other than social media. Here are three ways you can mine these areas to take your storytelling to the next level.
Mine Your Online Communities for Customer Stories
This past week, while working on a national and a local story for a client, I needed to find real voices to talk about their product. A few weeks prior, we had just taken over the client's social media work and were focused on growing their Facebook group.
Within moments of posting to the group, we were met with many eager fans who were happy to speak with a national news resource and appear on air in their community. The creation of and further development of this group will continue to be a key aspect of the storytelling for this brand.
If you don’t already have a social media group for your brand, consider the creation of a small sub-100 person group of super users. Ask your current social media followers to nominate themselves to the group, keep it small, post weekly and go there when you need a great customer story. It will ultimately save you time and effort.
Mine Your Influencers for Local Television
While we spend a lot of time (and sometimes money) working with influencers to speak about our brands online, we often forget a critical truth: Influencers are constantly looking to grow their reach. After all, they are businesses too.
Therefore, we can also use the tools we have in our arsenal (i.e., landing coverage) to place influencers on local television where they can extend their reach, brands can get coverage in a new way and dollars paid to influencers can extend even further.
These don’t have to be paid integrations. Instead, they are going on air to talk about your product within a broader subject or slew of topics. It is the same as pitching an executive, except easier to land, because the individual is already more consumer-friendly and a step removed from your company. It’s a win-win for all.
Monitor Social for Stories
Social media reporting as its currently done by the social media teams at your company, likely does little to help you land stories. However, with a few tweaks this can change.
As they build their reports, ask your social media team to include the top posts by customers who tagged or mentioned your brand. This will immediately help you identify product flaws but can also help you to find stories or people that you would never have otherwise identified.
Your social team already knows this information but often is not reporting it. It’s a small lift on their part that helps you better understand the public sentiment and the types of stories you need to land. Finally, this gives you not just a story trove but a directional focus on your storytelling efforts. Did a mom use your product to make the coolest afterschool activity come to life? Take that story and land it in Parents magazine.
We do these audits with customers all the time and the result is that you now have a calendar of stories to land that are more timely, more interesting and complimentary with the company's messaging. By working closer with these other mediums, we can reduce the effort it takes to find good stories.
No matter how great a group is at PR, or social or influencer marketing, we no longer work in a profession of silos. Instead, we need to focus on the mission of improving a brand’s public relationship and use whatever tactics or mediums are necessary to deliver on that promise.
Kristina Libby is a professor at the University of Florida and the co-founder of SoCu, a PR, social media and influencer marketing platform in Dallas, Texas. She recently published her first book "You Don't Need Social Media Unless You Are Doing It Right," and has written for and appeared in publications like Cosmopolitan, Entrepreneur, More, Forbes, the Los Angeles Times and others.
Follow Kristina: @KristinaLibby