Social Media for PR: Thought Leadership, Conversation and Connection

Kate Schackai, Social Media Director at Crawford PR and author of White Hat PR, just wrote a fantastic article about the difference between marketing and PR in social media. She gives great suggestions on using social media for effective public relations efforts online, but I got a lot of value from her perspective on the way social media is evolving the "sales approach" to more of a conversation and a social experience than just a pitch (whether in marketing or PR). I love watching this evolution happen.

We're seeing this transition occur much more specifically in the B2B space, where the sales and marketing style offline has historically been less about "buy this!" and more about the conversation and the relationship between buyer and seller (referrals, dinners, golf) compared to consumer marketing which is more traditionally about features, price, benefits, etc.

Whether we're talking about marketing or PR, the bottom line for me is that social media permits a brand to demonstrate its skills and build its reputation by shifting the focus from the product or service toward the deeper value the brand can deliver in its thought leadership; how connected the brand is to the industry or space; and how serviceable it is -- how social and supportive it is -- to its customers and to other thought leaders.

Here are my favorite clips from Kate's article:
Amplify’d from
Too many devotees are treating the terms “social media PR” and “social media marketing” as interchangeable–when they are anything but. And if you can’t tell which you’re engaged in, the odds are you’re not succeeding in either.
In the great era of one-way messaging, the distinction between marketing and PR was clear: if you were talking to consumers, it was marketing; if you were talking to the press, it was PR.
Marketing sells products. PR builds reputation. And while media matters, social media has opened up a new way to communicate directly, not just that someone should buy what you’re selling, but why.
a constant sales pitch in an area designed for conversation is somewhere beyond annoying; it’s completely tone deaf.
Your online content should comment on industry news, hot stories, trends related to your product/service. This requires that you and your team actually read the news and understand your relevance to it.
If someone replies to you, make sure they are answered and thanked. Quickly. And not just with a link to your product.
Speaking of links… Your PR force should be out there reading and commenting on other people’s content, and not just putting links to your site on theirs.
If you’re looking to position yourself as a thought leader in your industry, but your social media content makes you sound like a door-to-door salesman, the first step might be admitting that you have a problem.