Social media and public relations

Reflections from Sisson 3280

If you are a public relations student at Auburn, you need to take the Social Media and PR class. It is vital in preparing you for your career as a PR practitioner. The world is digital and for people in the world of communications, being well-versed in social media and content management is a must.

This class was not a simple lecture and test class. Instead, it improved my writing, required me to engage on Twitter with my classmates and gave me experience working with clients.

Twitter resurgence

Before this class, my Twitter had greatly dwindled over my four years of college. Very few of my friends use Twitter regularly so there was never a need for me to communicate on this outlet.

However, Twitter is one of the staple social media sites that most PR practitioners incorporate into their social media strategy. This class required that I create three organic tweets each week as well as respond to three classmates’ posts.

Overnight my Twitter account experienced a resurgence, and I was active again. Not only that, my feed was now full of social media rich content. Because of this class, my Twitter account is now a great source for any communications or marketing individuals looking for quick tips.

I may no longer be required to Tweet weekly, but now I want to continue the conversation online with my classmates and different social media influencers I have met over the course of this class.

Refined writing skills

In addition to the tweets, I had to write a blog post about a social media topic weekly. As a PR major this assignment seemed like a breeze. After completing my Style and Design class as well as my internship with Auburn which required me to write regularly, this did not intimidate me at all.

However, this writing was different. In the past, my writing was based on interviews with quotes from people I encountered. Here, I had to create my own content while also incorporating research from key sources.

While this requirement seemed like an opportunity to share with others my social media knowledge, in reality, it refined my writing skills and opened up a new area of writing for me. It gave me the opportunity to expand my knowledge of social media management and strengthen my writing.

Client experience

This semester, our class also partnered with the School of Communication and Journalism to help improve their presence on social media.

During this time, my group and I did both secondary and primary research as well as performed a communication audit to better understand the school’s current practices. Beyond that, we formulated a plan for them to increase content and better reach their target audience.

This was a huge learning experience for me because it allowed me to apply what we learned in class to an actual client. My group and I created a full report and will present to the school’s social media managers at the end of the semester.

This final project brought together everything we learned throughout the semester and therefore allowed me to create a campaign that best served the School of Communication and Journalism.

My biggest takeaway from this class is that social media is here to stay. Public Relations practitioners need to embrace the digital age and continue to grow their social media knowledge. A company with a strong brand presence online will always be a strong competitor.

I want to give an extra special shout-out to Dr. Sission who taught the Social Media and PR class. From PR Fundamentals to Multimedia Writing for PR to this class, you have been a huge influence on my education and future career. Thank you for investing in me. I will see you online. #Sisson3280

Social Media Ethics

Deciding what to push out to your followers on social

Social media is great. If you’re a business, you especially love it because it allows you to communicate with customers and build a brand voice.

However, as the world continues to go digital, companies need to establish a code of ethics for their social media conduct.

Be Transparent

When a crisis breaks out, most companies initial reaction is to keep quiet. However, companies on social media need to address their publics as quickly as possible.

This does not mean getting defensive. The best approach companies can take is to be transparent with their customers. They must openly post about the issue and own up to any mistakes. Reference my earlier post for more information on Crisis Communication.

In addition to communicating with publics, transparency also means that you are open about who and why you are promoting another brand.

According to Business2Community, “If you are endorsing some product, idea or personality; you need to disclose why you are endorsing it. Mentioning your relationship with that particular product, non-profit entity, brand or political entity in your campaign, handle, or bio is essential.”

Don’t just spread information

Topics on social media spread like wildfire. Although a topic may be trending, companies must ensure that the information is factual.

Not only does it need to be factual, they must make sure whatever your company pushes out aligns with the company’s mission.

According to NPR, “When determining whether to pass along information being reported on social media sites by other news outlets or individuals, be thoughtful. When we point to what others are saying, in the eyes of many we are effectively reporting that information ourselves.”

Therefore, be careful when you spread social media content and make sure it represents your company.

Be respectful of everyone

Social media is global. People around the world use all social platforms daily. Therefore, any content sent out through a company’s page must be respectful of all cultures.

It can be easy for communication specialists to forget this when they are communicating online with their clientele. However, sending out a post that disrespects one ethnicity or nationality could potentially alienate a huge client base.

According to Mashable, social media managers must, “think about how your country or region’s cultural norms differ among age groups, genders, geographical areas and so on, and then consider these differences among consumers in other cultures. Learning about and respecting other cultures will help you localize your brand’s message.”

Consider the Impact

The bottom line of all social media ethics is to consider the impact. Once a post is online, it never goes away. Rouge posts have the potential to seriously damage the reputation of any company. As a social media manager, it is your team’s responsibility to ensure that all posts are tasteful and encourage healthy interaction with your brand.


Social media customer relationships

It’s not your brand, it’s your relationship 

As companies begin to grow their brand on social media, many lose sight of the need to build relationships. Social sites are important for pushing out promotions but that is not their sole purpose.

Social media provides companies with the opportunity to build relationships with their customers and followers.

Imagine Media Consulting defines it as the difference between having a social media platform and a social media presence.

“It comes down to one word: relationships. If you simply exist on social media without engaging, are you truly fulfilling your end of the relationship with your customers?  The answer is no. This is why we put such an emphasis on the importance of relationships.”

How to engage in your relationships online

While it may be tempting to send out a post or tweet and not look at it again until it’s time for a report, PR practitioners must engage with their audience.

According to Quick Book, “Like it or not, how your brand is perceived online influences buyer behavior. To be effective, these social interactions need to be real, two-way conversations and not one-sided marketing messages “pushed” at followers and fans.”

Here are some great tips to remember when starting online conversations:

  1. Respond to comments – People like to know their voice has been heard. Responding to their comments or tweeting back makes them feel like you as a company values them.
  2. Personalize responses – Yes, it is important to respond to everyone. However, make sure to tailor a response to each person differently. When companies say the same thing, it makes people feel like they are talking to a computer, not a person. This does not build a relationship and instead lowers customer sentiment.
  3. Get people talking – Social media managers should encourage conversation amongst followers. This provides managers with insight into customer sentiment but it also motivates customers to share stories. This then builds a community amongst other brand followers.
  4. Don’t fear negative feedback – No one likes to be told they are doing something wrong. However, analyzing customers’ responses and listening to their concerns can help you better serve your client and increase client retention.

Social media managers have a great opportunity to engage with their customers and build strong relationships. Visit Sprout Social’s “8 Tips to Build Customer Relationships With Social Media” for more tips.

The need for a content calendar

Managing messages through strategic planning

Juggling one brand’s social media presence across multiple platforms can seem daunting. Trying to manage three to four may seem impossible.

So how do PR firms do it? Content calendars.

These allow social media managers to prepare their posts before hand and view it across a larger time span.

Why they are a must

Content calendars help social media planners plan out their messaging over weeks, months and even the full year. This is important because to be strategic in messaging, there has to be a game plan.

According to CoSchedule, “Certainly, you aren’t going to plan every single piece of social media content you’ll produce right away. However, you can plan out your campaigns and seasonal messaging ahead of time. This will help you create content strategically and with a purpose by thinking things through in advance instead of just winging it as you go along.”

social mediaAnother important aspect of content calendars is that it frees up managers time to create engaging content. Many social media managers are also expected to blog, gather photographs or plan videos.

The free time found when content is pre-schedule results in better quality messaging and higher quantity of creative messages.

Things to consider when planning

Once you decide to use a content calendar, it is important to know how to use it effectively.

Social media audits allow managers to gain insight into their following and engagement on all social platforms. This research is the base for how managers craft messages and plan their campaign.

Sprout Social lays out four steps to creating a social media calendar.

  1. Figure out what content resonates -“Before you start searching for content to share on social you need to figure out what your audience actually likes.”
  2. Decide on how often to post -“Always keep your audience in mind and ensure you’re not bombarding them with posts that are irrelevant or inappropriate.”
  3. Create or source create content to share – “Once you have an idea of what kind of content your audience enjoys and how much you’ll need to satiate the quantity of posts you need to create, it’s time to find links to share.”
  4. Fill up your social media editorial calendar -“You’ve got the process in place, now it is time to start filling up your editorial calendar. You’ll want to use a tool that allows you to schedule or social messages and visual your entire content calendar.”

Content Calendar Resources

Great resources for content calendars includes Hootsuite and Sprout Social.

5 Reasons PR is the major for YOU

Choosing a major in college can be stressful. Having to make that one decision that will define your next four years and your career is overwhelming.

However, if you’re interested in entering into the business world but want to contribute in a creative way, consider majoring in public relations.

Here are five reasons PR may just be your perfect fit.

You love building relationships

Public relations is defined as, “a strategic communication process that builds mutually beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics” (PRSA 2017).

The most common example of these relationships is between a company and its customers. However, public ‘relationships’ stretch to journalists, stakeholders, shareholders and even employees.

If you’re the type of person that likes to foster relationships and values open communication, then public relations is the right pick for you.

Writing is second nature

What most people don’t realize is that public relations is centered on writing. PR practitioners write press releases, media advisories and pitches daily to journalists.

These pieces have a journalistic tone so that newspapers will pick up stories. However, the challenge in this writing is making it newsworthy without sounding like a promotion.

PR writing also includes blogging, which allows for more creativity, and social media posts, which requires strategic writing and messaging.

If typing up stories all day doesn’t sound like your bread and butter, PR may not be the major for you. However, if the idea of creating messages excites you, then brush up on your AP style and join the world of media writing.

Interactive coursework

As PR majors get further along with their schooling and into higher level classes, the coursework becomes interactive.

Very rarely do teachers simply lecture and test students. Instead, they assign projects with real clients which allows students to apply what they learn in class while also adding to their portfolio.

Examples of these classes include Multimedia Writing for PR, PR Case Studies, Survey Research, Style and Design and PR Campaigns.

Internships prepare you

Nervous about getting work experience? No worries!

Christy interning at CMT, summer 2016.

All public relations majors are required to have an internship before graduating. This allows them to gain real-life experience while also starting to create a web of contacts before graduation.

The best part about these internships is that to qualify for course credit, the program has to prove it actively strengthens students’ PR skills.

Therefore, the day to day intern work won’t be the typical coffee runs and office cleaning. Instead, PR students can learn and contribute to the workings of the firm or company.

Multiple career possibilities

Once PR majors graduate and enter into the workforce, they is no limit to career options. The two main avenues that most PR practitioners enter into include firms and corporate.

Firms are high pace and allow PR practitioners to grow quickly because they get exposed to a large number of clients. Corporate jobs are more steady and allow communicators to invest in one client while growing the brand over time.

While these are the most common, PR practitioners can become event planners, media relations experts, marketers or social media managers. Any job that requires strong writing skills and great relationship building matches perfectly with PR majors.

Do these topics make you want to learn more about the major? If so, visit Auburn’s College of Liberal Art’s website.

How to manage a social media crisis

When a crisis occurs and a company’s reputation is threatened, top executives look to PR practitioners to mitigate the damages by responding quickly and effectively.

However, on social media, crisis communications takes on a new form. Often, getting trending topics under control is nearly impossible.

Here are some important tips for how to manage a PR social media crisis.

Anticipate Crises

Every public relations team, whether it is social media or not, needs to have a crisis plan in place. According to Berstein Crisis Management, there are two main benefits to creating these plans.

“First, you may realize that some of the situations are preventable by simply modifying existing methods of operation. You can also begin to think about possible responses, about best-case/worst-case scenarios, etc. Better now than when under the pressure of an actual crisis,” Berstein said.

All crises are dynamic. Not everything prepared will be used. However, when a team has pre-crafted responses, it is easier to manage and adjust accordingly.

Determine if it is a crisis

It is easy to take a negative post or tweet to heart as a social media manager. It may even seem like these are the begins of a serious threat to a company’s reputation. However, that’s not always the case.

According to Convince and Convert, there are three steps to deciding if you have an actual social media crisis.

  1. A social media crisis has information asymmetry – “When the company does not know any more than the public about what’s going on, it becomes a crisis.”
  2. A social media crisis is a decisive change from the norm. – “Many companies have things they are continually criticized on. When a markedly different line of criticism occurs, that’s the second sign of a social media crisis.”
  3. A social media crisis has a potentially material impact on the company overall. – “Somebody tweeting that Subway left mustard off their sandwich isn’t a crisis. A gunman at a Subway is. Scope and scale are the signs of a social media crisis.”

Quickly address all your publics

While it is important to take time in deciding responses, companies need to address issues quickly. Waiting to see if it will simmer out runs the risk of the internet discussion taking off without getting to voice the company’s response.

With crisis management, it is always best to own your mistakes. Be honest with your publics, take responsibilities for your actions and promise to work harder to earn their trust.

According to Social Media Examiner, “When issuing a statement, show compassion and your full commitment to the issue. Assure customers that they’re your first priority. Don’t be defensive, don’t justify your actions and most importantly, don’t hide from criticism.”

Social Media Job Prep

Must have skills for the social media manager job search

As PR practitioners and marketers enter into the social media management field, they must solidify their digital skillsets.

Many millennials believe that since they grew up in the digital age, employers assume they are social media gurus by nature. While this may have been the case at the start of the online age, today’s employers expect more.

Today’s social media managers must have a strong grasp on the digital landscape and be able to prove it. Here are some tips to make you stand out when interviewing for a social media manager position.

Know your platforms

As far as the social media giants, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, social managers need to know these like the back of their hand. Messaging on these platforms varies from site to site, and being able to write compelling 140 charter Twitter posts is just as vital as well-crafted, longer Facebook posts.

However, knowing your platforms goes beyond mastering the giants. According to Jeff Bullas, “Social media is not a singularity. The social web is made up of intersecting trends as it matures and evolves.”

Being well versed in new and growing platforms makes you competitive in your job search. Here is a list of 20 popular social media sites. Know these well, but keep exploring for new platforms popping up.

Be able to show ROI

Return on investment, or ROI, has spread from the business world into the everyday lives of social media managers. Marketers must be able to show how efforts online contribute to an increase in sales or customer retention.

Knowledge of software such as Google Analytics and Hootsuite Analytics will help you stand out to employers.

These skills prove to future employers that you not only understand the importance of analytics reports, but you are able to provide them with this information without training.

Have portfolio material

It is not enough to say you know how to do something, you have to prove to employers that you’ve had success in digital relations in the past. Therefore, creating a portfolio to give employers is a must.

According to Undercover Recruiter, “A work portfolio not only sets job seekers apart from the competition, it does a better job of relaying why you may be right for the job by providing solid evidence as opposed to beating around the bush about it.”

Make a folder, document or online portfolio of all your work in past internships, jobs and class assignments. These give physical proof to your skillsets.


More Information

For more information, visit The Muse, Social Media Today and Undercover Recruiter.

– Happy Job Search!

The benefits of social media market research

Analyzing and applying social media statistics

Market research can be time-consuming, expensive and difficult to gather. Classic research practices such as surveys and focus groups can provide great insight. However, marketers often need feedback fast and traditional research methods do not always make the cut.

Social MediaThis is where social media comes in. The communications world has begun to utilize social media as a key source of research information.

Comments, likes and conversations that take place on social platforms provides marketers with real-time measurements.

Here are some of the top benefits of using social media as a research tool.

Customer sentiment

When forming a campaign, it is vital to have a strong understanding of customers feelings about the company and product.

Facebook Feels

According to SocialStrategy1, “Social media monitoring gives real-time access to opinions, data that dates back, and analysis of conversations that lie outside the typical survey participant, larger groups for sampling, agility in experimental proceedings.”

Due to comments and likes on social media, marketers can combine this qualitative and quantitative data into full reports.

For example, Facebook’s newly added “Facebook Reactions” allow users to express opinions beyond just liking a post. Now, users can have reactions including love, ‘haha’, ‘wow’, sadness and anger.

This data, when accumulated together, gives marketers constantly updated statistics on how people are reacting on social media to their company.

The amount of awareness

Social media also allows companies to see how many people are talking about their business or particular campaign.

AwarenessAccording to Brandwatch, many marketers attribute brand awareness to a higher return on investment.

According to the same article, “One of the strongest drivers in making consumers buy is simply the ability to recall that product. ”

Tools such as Hootsuite and Google Analytics can measure the number of comments, mentions, retweets and traffic to certain social sites. These statistics are a strong representation of a customer’s brand awareness.

Evaluate, plan and communicate

Once this research is gathered, researchers can take what they found, apply it to their campaigns and grow their messaging.

An example of this is learning the audience’s language. Listening In On Social

According to Social Media Today, “The words and factors that you use to track the success of your product might not always align with what customers find most important. By analyzing social media exchanges about your product or service, you can learn what factors customers use to determine value as well as the way that they speak about your product, service or brand.”

Social media research helps form a digital plan by giving marketers information when trying to improve communication with key publics.

Know your brand’s voice

The importance of personality in brands’ social media 

Establishing a brand voice on social media is a vital component of strong and effective digital marketing.

As PR practitioners begin to formulate their social messaging, they must agree upon a distinctive and recognizable brand voice. This is often conveyed through the company’s written messages, language, images and videos.

According to Target Marketing, “Brands are strong and memorable when they have a distinctive, consistent, relevant brand voice. The cultivation, management and protection of that voice requires a deep understanding of what the brand stands for and what it does not.”

When executed correctly, brand voices increase engagement with followers and open new discussions between other brands.

An unmistakable voice

Since December, Wendy’s Twitter account has been gaining serious media attention for their quick-witted comebacks.

Roasting not only individual twitter accounts that make sassy tweets, Wendy’s also takes direct jabs at other fast food restaurants including their biggest competitors McDonald’s and Burger King.

Since the start of these messages, “Wendy’s has seen an approximate a 35% increase in followers to date, which equates to about 350,000 net new followers,” according to Toast Resturant Management Blog.

This is a major jump in followers in just a little over two months. This increase was not due to a marketing or messaging campaign. Instead, Wendy’s established their brand voice as sassy and relentless.

Followers flock to companies like Wendy’s because they make them laugh and they engage with people who tweet at them. They may not be the top competitor in the fast food industry but they have the strongest social presence.

What this means for PR

Social media managers and PR practitioners must take examples like Wendy’s seriously and focus on establishing a brand voice. To do this, they must have a strong grasp on their company’s mission. A brand whose messages clash with their purpose will only lose their audience.

communicationOnce it is established it must be utilized. However, it is more than just sending a voice through messaging. This is the time for PR practitioners to lean into the two-way communication model and increase engagement.

Most, if not every company sends messages out through social media. Yet, many miss the chance to distinguish themselves as a brand with a voice rather than a business trying to increase sales.

Allowing personality to shine through on social media humanizes the brand, starts discussions and improves relationships with followers.

For those starting out, Content Marketing Institute lays out 5 Easy Steps to Define and Use Your Brand Voice.

Eat pasta as the Italians do

A strategic plan to the BEST Italian spring break and pasta

As the trees start to bloom and shirt sleeves get shorter, college students across the nation prepare for their spring break trips to sunshine-filled beaches.

The whole Brown family at Auburn game.

This year, I will not be joining the mass exodus south for the spring. Instead, I have the amazing opportunity to travel to Italy with my family of eight.

Over a ten-day period my family, boyfriend and I will be conquering the beautiful Italian landscape between Florence and Rome.

We will visit famous museums, Italian wineries and small hidden villages. It will be fabulous!

While I have many hopes and expectations for this trip, my boyfriend, Kaleb, and I have one important goal to accomplish as a couple…

To find the best spaghetti dish In italy.


For those who may not know, Kaleb’s favorite food in the whole world is spaghetti.

In order to accomplish this, I have laid out a strategic plan for our week by defining our objectives, strategies and tactics.

Step 1 – Pasta Objective

Kaleb and Christy on Christmas.

To begin, this goal is broad. So, to help us focus in, I have established a pasta objective.

In public relations, objectives are set during the planning process to help narrow down the campaign’s goals.

These also give a measurable aspect of the public relations efforts including results and time frame.

Our pasta objective is…

To choose the #1 spaghetti dish among the restaurants that Kaleb and I eat at within the week that we are in Italy.


This gives us a quantifiable objective from which we can form a plan of attack.

Step 2 – Dining Strategy

When creating a public relations campaign, practitioners devise strategies that correlate to each specific objective. These are the plans a PR team must accomplish in order to achieve a specific goal.

For Spaghetti purposes, our strategy is…

Eat Spaghetti Daily.


One way or another, Kaleb and I must try a new type of spaghetti every day that we are in Italy.

Step 3 – Ordering Tactic

Lastly, tactics are the actual vehicles that PR practitioners use to accomplish their strategy. In other words, they are the to-do list. This could include writing a social media post or sending out a press release.

For our trip, there are three tactics or ways that we can taste spaghetti…


From here we will rank each tasting on a scale of 1-10. We will then log our responses and restaurants as well as take a picture with each plate so that we can differentiate. At the end of the trip, we will determine the winning spaghetti dish.

Now, this plan may seem limiting. Those who have traveled to Italy may be screaming at their computer saying, “Try more things! There’s more to Italian food than pasta!” You are right, and we will. However, this is a fun way to track our travels through Italy, and we are excited to try.

To recap, the steps to accomplishing our Italian spring break are:

Goal: To find the best spaghetti dish in Italy.

Objective: To choose the #1 spaghetti dish among the restaurants that Kaleb and I eat at within the week that we are in Italy.

Strategy: Eat spaghetti daily.

Tactic: Order it as our meal, try it from a family member’s plate or request a sample.

Wish us luck! Happy travels 🙂

Visit Cutting Edge PR or PR Couture for more information on strategic public relations planning.