Real-Time Public Relations

Real-time means news breaks over minutes, not days. It means ideas percolate, then suddenly and unpredictably go viral to a global audience. It’s when companies develop (or refine) products  or services instantly, based on feedback from customers or events in the marketplace. And it’s when businesses see an opportunity and are the first to act on it.

Caught up in old, time-consuming processes, too many companies leave themselves fatally exposed by flying blind through this new media environment.

Chapter 17 in the book Share This starts the chapter off with a solid point. It says real-time communication impacts public relations in ways that cannot be described simply as it is the same as before but faster. It is both a central cause and effect of what it means to practice PR in the digital age. This pretty much sums it up; it is completely different than it has ever been. I don’t think you can even compare how public relations was to how it is in this day and age, and one of the main reasons which the book covers is Twitter.

Since rolling out in 2006, the micro-blogging service has become the online equivalent of a massive global square. Twitter now has more than 200 million active users creating more than 400 million tweets each day, according to Twitter’s blog. For PR pros Twitter is like oxygen. It’s a way to breathe life into new PR campaigns, cultivate relationships with media reps, stakeholders and consumers and handle crises with more alacrity.

Indeed, for communicators and, in particular, younger PR pros it may be hard to imagine executing a PR campaign without Twitter playing a central role. It’s also affected how PR folks craft their messages. As George Stenitzer, VP of marketing and corporate communications at B2B company Tellabs, put it:  “Twitter is the world’s ultimate headline writing contest. It teaches brevity. Good tweets equals seven to capture attention, 70 characters to maximize retweets.”

Twitter had enabled PR pros to take a real-time temperature of their audiences, enabling on-point messaging, and it also lets your workforce become your biggest brand champions, giving your employees a chance to evangelize about our brand’s attributes.

The book also talks about what success looks like, that in a real-time public relations demands answers to the following questions: The what, who, how, and when which can be summed up as make sure you pay attention, respond fast and effetely.

The final thing in this chapter that is really helpful is that it gives some essentials for real-time public relations success, these include:

  • (re)connecting public relations to the business
  • Investments in knowledge, skills and policies
  • Defined analytics and workflow
  • An approiate culture
  • Rigorous measurement and evaluation

This outline is essential for PR practitioners in this ever changing, fast paced social media world we live in.