PR firms adapt to today’s social media platforms
From Facebook to Snapchat, industry leaders say each platform is catered to specific clients.
The social media platform is changing, and organizations are tasked with finding ways to keep pace.
That includes public relations firms that are charged with portraying the image of its clients in an optimistic light to its targeted audience. However, the diversity of the industries represented makes it a challenge for PR companies.
Tim Dye, vice president of Truscott Rossman, said his firm works in a variety of industries including health care, tourism, transportation, education, municipal government, and banking and wealth management.
“Each one in those particular industries has different needs and has different approaches to reaching the audience they are trying to reach,” Dye said. “The medium we might choose to reach an audience will vary from client to client depending on their needs.”
Nevertheless, with the evolution of social media, there is a platform for PR firms to assist most of their clients to market their identity. Whether it is Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Snapchat, LinkedIn, YouTube or Soundcloud, PR firms must be adept in a variety of platforms.
Chad Cyrowski, director of digital media at Truscott Rossman, said different social media platforms tend to attract certain populations.
“It really depends on the client and the audience,” Cyrowski said. “Snapchat is the place to go if you are trying to reach kids and young adults, Twitter is great for reaching reporters and Facebook is still the most popular, except the social network overall is trending to have an older demographic, which essentially means younger people are using it less frequently.”
According to The Statistics Portal, as of January 2018, people ages 25-34 years old in the United States make up 58.3 million of Facebook’s users. Individuals from 35-44 years old make up 42.4 million of its population and 39.4 million users are between 18 and 24 years old.
Snapchat is a visual app, where people create stories through photos, which can appear as slideshows but also videos that span 10 seconds. Companies tend to use Snapchat for teasers to launch its products, cosmetics, hairstyles and fashionable outfits. A study done by the Pew Research Center said 78 percent of Snapchat users in the United States are between the ages of 18 and 24 years old, but only 54 percent of those between the ages of 25 and 29 use that platform.
Mary Ann Sabo, president of Sabo Public Relations LLC, echoed the same sentiment as Dye about choosing the right platform to attract the right audience. Sabo, who has been working in the communications field for over 30 years, said time and the way news spreads have changed compared to when she first started in the industry and press releases were sent via the post office.
Similar to Truscott Rossman, Sabo’s PR firm provides services to a variety of clients, such as Warner Norcross and Judd, Kent District Library, The Michigan Association of Certified Public Accountants, ADAC Automotive, Make-A-Wish Michigan, and the city of East Grand Rapids, among others.
“Some of our clients are very popular on Facebook,” Sabo said. “The Children’s Healing Center works with sick kids who have compromised immune systems, and they provide a safe place for them to play. So, they are built for Facebook because everyone loves to share, so it is a really good way to connect.”
The Pew Research Center said LinkedIn is more popular among people with college degrees as opposed to those with just a high school diploma. About 50 percent of LinkedIn users are college educated; 9 percent of its users are solely high school graduates.
“Michigan Association of CPAs is a heavy user of LinkedIn,” Sabo said. “They will take a look at, for example, tax reform, to be proactive because they are trying to talk to two primary audiences. One, accountants and CPAs who either are members or who are not members but are considering it. So, (MACPA) wants to say, ‘We are that trusted resource to provide you with updates.’ The second is, they also want to talk to the general public to say, ‘You know what, when you are choosing a financial service professional, you can choose a CPA because by having a CPA designation, it’s more trust and you are getting accurate timely information.’”
Sabo said other clients, such as Kent District Library, use Instagram because it has 19 branches across the county and it can provide information in a bright, colorful and fast fashion. She said municipalities also have Instagram pages, which allows people to tag their friends and add their locations.
Another one of her clients, Scott Group, which designs custom carpets, uses Pinterest to showcase its products.
Despite a plethora of social media options to cater to each audience, Sabo said she predicted more platforms will become available in the coming years.
“In five years, there is going to be a whole new group of other social media platforms out there because it is changing so fast,” she said.