Publicists vs Twitter: Is This A Battle They Can Win?

Publicists are big on creating and distributing press releases, but even the tightest social media press release is no match for a well-crafted 140 character tweet pushed out to the right people at the right time – and anyone can do it. Are publicists struggling to remain relevant as clients become more Twitter savvy?

We started thinking about this question after reading a piece asking if Twitter was killing the publicist. That writer concluded that Twitter is not going to kill publicists, and in fact, that “publicists are finding creative ways to acclimate such sites [like Twitter] into PR campaigns.” But while this is certainly true, it doesn’t place enough emphasis on the fact that anyone can promote themselves now, if they so choose – and it doesn’t take any special training. Sure, it can be time-consuming, but anything is initially.

But beyond that, the key point that should be top of mind for all PR folks these days, the part that will help them remain relevant for years to come is this: social media interactions in general, and tweets specifically, happen and spiral out of control at an alarming rate. Alec Baldwin is always a handy example of that!

With this in mind, PR folks would likely do well to focus more on crisis communications and what to do after the fact, rather than focusing on promotion.

PR Daily offers some handy crisis PR tips that they pulled together from the KONY 2012 video. The tips are summarized below:

1. Communicate immediately. The longer one stays silent the more they are perceived to be hiding.

2. Address specific concerns. Create an official point-by-point response to critics. And don’t be shy about it.

3. Include social media in your response. Obviously. And respond to some folks with common questions directly.

4. Have others speak for you. Your credibility is automatically weakened regardless of the truth. Regain it by enlisting support from credible sources.

5. Ask for public input. This can be scary as it can go wrong quickly, but feel it out and do it if it makes sense, asking for specific feedback.

What do you think of the publicists’ role these days? Should they be planning to switch gears and become more of a clean-up crew?

(Businessman with boxing gloves image from Shutterstock)