Traditional and social media - an uneasy marriage?

Attending a training session yesterday by the excellent 10 Yetis confirmed something I’d been thinking for a long time. Social media and traditional media aren’t warring factions, they are intricately linked and smart companies should be seeing both as key channels for PR activity.

With Twitter poised to start selling stock to investors tomorrow, in spite of the fact they’ve not made a profit this year, the power of this social media behemoth is clearly well recognised. People want to advertise on Twitter because it gives them access to huge numbers of potential customers; investors want to buy shares because they know people will want to advertise. Twitter has built a powerful reputation and it’s paying off in terms of external perceptions.

So where does that leave traditional PR? We all know that if a story trends consistently then sooner or later it will be picked up by the print and broadcast media. Journalists scan social media networks for their stories, just as they have traditionally looked to other print media. The big stories often break on Twitter first. Social media feeds traditional media but does traditional media also influence the social media landscape?

The short answer is yes. People discuss what they see in the papers or on the news on social networks, I won’t be the first person to define social media as the new water cooler. It goes beyond that though. Just as historically companies have sold their stories into the papers, smart PRs seed their social media content through traditional media, tailoring their content to make it controversial or memorable – in other words, something the papers will want to write about. Selling pictures, videos and other content into the papers builds the story and ups your chances of seeing it trend. Social media channels, especially Twitter, are a powerful way to drive traffic to a company’s website and traditional media play a key part in getting something talked about.

It may be an uneasy marriage, but social and traditional media work hand in hand, a fact that none of us working in this industry can afford to ignore.