4 reasons the PR team should handle social media

When The New York Times reaches out to your organization on Twitter, will you be ready?

Social media use among Fortune 500 companies has plateaued, according to recent data.

This hardly means these organizations have adopted social media en masse (62 percent have an active corporate Twitter account, while only 58 percent maintain a Facebook page), and it presents an opportunity for those without a social presence or those who remain inactive in those channels.

This prompts an important question for the laggards: Who should be in charge of running these things, anyway?

If the headline didn’t already tip you off, the answer is the PR team. Here’s why:

The PR agency or team is best equipped to respond to inbound media requests

When a reporter reaches out to the brand via social media, your organization must be prepared to respond promptly. If the reporter doesn’t get a quick response, he or she will move on to find another source.

The PR team already handles inbound media requests, so they are prepared to coordinate interviews and provide the journalist with any background information for the story.

The PR team also has a better grasp on which journalists have already been in communication with the organization or have written previous stories, and social media provides additional channels through which the PR practitioner and journalist can communicate.

PR understands the organization’s messaging

Whether it’s the typical “say this, not that” that stems from the corporate legal department or subtle messaging tied to the product or service, the PR team is already adept at communicating in the organization’s style.

Social media accounts are often run in a particular voice (think of Twitter accounts or Facebook brand pages that refer to the organization in the collective “we”), and the PR department is best equipped to incorporate the unique tone of social media into the organization’s many other communications channels.

The PR team is trained in reputation management

It’s no secret that customers use Twitter as a sounding board for issues they encounter in dealing with your brand. The PR team knows that an organization’s many audiences— consumers, partners, investors, stockholders, media—should be treated differently, but all with an eye on the big picture.

That said, the PR department should have close ties to other departments with a horse in the race (read: everyone). If complaints come flooding in about a landing page on the site crashing, the Web team would certainly like to know.

Similarly, the PR team should alert customer service or sales if people mention difficulty redeeming coupons or processing a transaction.

PR strategy, in part, dictates social media strategy

You have a comprehensive public relations plan for your organization (if you don’t, you should probably get on that). Use it. A social media strategy that’s in lockstep with a PR strategy amplifies results on both fronts.

What did I miss? Do you disagree?

Andrew Cross is a Chicago-based public relations professional with Walker Sands Communications and a contributing writer for PR Daily. Follow him on Twitter at @Andrew_R_Cross.

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Topics: PR

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