Social Media and PR often work hand in hand. Both types of marketing deliver key messages directly to your audience and engage your customers. Additionally, the evolution of digital communications and multi-channel marketing plans means PR and Social Media often share the same campaign brief, audience messaging, and budget line. However, there are key differences that shape how Social Media and PR are managed by experts and engaged with by customers.
#1 Your Voice or Your Angle
The most significant difference between Social Media and PR is that Social Media is about maintaining a voice with customers whilst PR is about working an angle to generate a buzz with customers. Social Media communications create deeply intimate relationships with customers by telling stories, showcasing brand values, and providing exciting information on a real-time basis. Conversely, PR campaigns often work a specific angle to capture audience attention through media publications, generating a buzz around the activity.
#2 You Must Engage
Organic Social Media streams e.g. a company’s Facebook Page or Group requires the customer to engage with them first before they consume the content. This is typically through ‘likes, ‘follows’ or ‘reactions’. This is different from PR which is reaching consumers through media content they are already absorbing such as news publications. The only exception to this is arguably Paid Social Media whereby Ads are placed on a content feed that may not be related to the content a customer is consuming.
#3 Understanding Control
Message control is another important distinction between Social Media and PR. In Social Media, brands have complete control over the message provided. Social Media content will often go through an internal sign-off process before it reaches the customer. In PR, messages are crafted to tell your story and distributed through formats like Press Releases, but organisations that receive this content do not give you final control over the story.
#4 Real-Time Engagement
Social Media can instantly deliver messages to an audience through posting on an account page or even live streaming through Facebook. It is considered more of a real-time channel for live updates directly from a brand mouthpiece. PR can also provide real-time updates if, for example, it breaks a news story for the first time. This won’t usually be through social channels but content distribution on television, print, and digital publications.
#5 Audience Reach
PR is generally more effective than social media at reaching a mass market and elevating a brands’ position to reach new audiences and customers. Social Media audiences are usually close followers of the brand and smaller in size than the size of the potential marketplace. PR is very important for raising brand awareness which can, in turn, lead to new followers on your social channels.
#6 Tone of Voice
PR and Social Media both inform, educate and engage audiences. PR strategies usually have carefully tailored communications to showcase brands and their services. Social Media can do the same but has more flexibility to be sociable and humorous as it is connecting with a known audience on a platform they can engage with.
We hope this guide gives you insight into the difference between PR & Social Media. For more information on how we can craft a PR & Social Media plan contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org