(Image courtesy of Flickr)
Previously, PR 1.0 practice relied heavily on the agency of the press, journalists or magazine editors to spread the word about the brand to their target customers. In a client-server relationship, consumers were being ‘lectured’ by companies with a strong emphasis on advertising and mass media.
PR 2.0 however, saw changes of power dynamics between companies and consumers. Social media became the new platform allowing organisations to be their own press, conversing with their customers directly through web-based channels. This peer-to-peer relationship fostered conversations within communities, and companies focused on garnering word of mouth promotion and brand advocating instead of advertising.
So how does a public relations officer utilise their social media toolkit to develop strong relationships with their audience? Here are some examples:
Rumi Neely of Fashion Toast designed accessories for Dannijo Jewelry and modelled for Forever 21. Mimco’s ‘Unpredictable Revolution’ campaign selected 50 bloggers worldwide to write about their latest collection. Margaret Zhang gets flown all over the world to share her experiences at Shine Be Three.
Once touted as ‘wannabe journalists’, bloggers have finally found their place as the poster children of great web 2.0 communications. They are content curators with an avid following and almost-celebrity status influence. The genuine and personal connection they have with their readers through two-way conversation gives a bloggers’ opinion more clout than traditional media. They write as if their audiences are life long friends, and that credibility is transferred onto the brands that endorse them. Thus, bloggers can become a channel to leverage an organisation that collaborates with them (Smith, 2010). This is achieved by aligning the organisation’s products with the blogger’s own fan base.
User Generated Content
Burberry’s ‘Art of the Trench’ campaign, fans uploading outfit photos onto Facebook, ‘Upload and #Tag’ competitions on Instagram, sharing viral videos [below] and four more examples, all demonstrate successful brand community development.
The two-way symmetrical mode of communication has increased power and involvement of the public through user generated content. Organisations can interact with their fans to build brand communities, which influence customers to become brand advocates. This creates their sense of emotional belonging to the brand and ultimately; the consumers are doing the PR for them.
The transition from monologue to dialogue has benefitted resourceful brands to harness the power of social media and establish connections with their stakeholders. This is so important in the fashion industry, they even have awards for it!
Successful organisations gain customers’ engagement and feedback, while customers gain the satisfaction of being seen, heard and involved with their favourite brands.
A good relationship between PR and stakeholders is sewn together by mutually beneficial practices.
Smith, B. 2010 ‘The evolution of the blogger: Blogger considerations of public relations-sponsored content in the blogosphere’ in Public Relations Review, Elsevier, Vol. 36, pp. 175–177