• The future of PR in a Facebook era


James Ashe, Managing Partner

James Ashe, Managing Partner

The Future of PR in a Facebook Era

Facebook is fast becoming the first port of call for anyone seeking out the latest news – what does this mean for PR, and for the future of news?

According to the Reuters Institute for the Study of Journalists, 50% of all web users use social media for news each week. Although that might not be a surprising figure in itself, 44% of those surveyed used Facebook above all others to read, watch, share or comment on news each week.

Of course, this means that traditional publishers are seeing a decline in the number of people reading on their own websites or buying a physical paper or magazine. Even television is taking a hit, with all those surveyed under the age of 45 claiming that online sources are more important to their daily news consumption than broadcasted news reports.

We live in a fast-moving, digital world, and PR agencies like us have had to adapt quickly to find the best ways of making an impact in the digital frontier. And, with the recent proliferation of ‘fake news’ and low-quality clickbait, we know that it’s more important than ever to have a great story that will punch through the noise and leave an impact.

A lot of this is PR 101. A strong story will result in strong coverage, but it’s also important to ensure a good relationship with the right journalists. The more invested in your story they are, the more likely it is to appear across all that publication’s platforms – online, on social media and in print. And as with print, it’s sometimes as simple as having some fantastic photography – a showstopping image will increase the chances of a story going viral! 

With the opportunities that social media provides, it’s time to start thinking outside the box. Journalists are always looking for the chance to fill up the Facebook News Feed, so it’s vital to start setting up additional coverage that will work for their online audiences. Recently, we took the opportunity to invite BBC Radio Gloucestershire to The Old Stocks Inn as part of their head chef’s appearance on MasterChef: The Professionals. While they were there, they conducted an interview via Facebook Live, getting readers and followers to send in their cooking questions. The video achieved over 3,000 views, and continues to be shared across Facebook.

This ‘added value’ approach is perfect for journalists, who are having to create more content than ever before for a much larger number of platforms with smaller teams, and great for our clients, who end up reaching far more people than they ever would before.

Social media also offers a greater opportunity to take control of what’s being said about you and how you want your brand to be positioned. Although it’s important to have third-party endorsement, it’s vital to ensure that you’re putting out the right message yourself. Official social media channels give fans and followers an authentic experience, and allow you to tell the story in the way that you want to tell it. The same principles apply – if it’s a great story, it’s sure to be heard.

With all the commotion over Facebook’s position in the media, it’s easy to forget that while Facebook may be the first port of call for news, much of that news is sourced from elsewhere to read on the platform. So it’s up to PR agencies and brands to keep calm, think smart and make sure they’re providing strong stories that make it to the top of the News Feed for all the right reasons.

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# PR, Social Media, Facebook, News