One trend that will not be fading anytime soon is that of social media. How social media can be applied to bettering public relations has been a hot topic for many debates and David Meerman Scott describes the relevance and significance perfectly in his new book "Real-Time Marketing & PR: how to instantly engage your market, connect with customers, and create products that grow your business now." The book outlines the why we need to incorporate this "real-time revolution" into the companies we do business with starting with our own and how to best go about doing just that.
The beginning of the book explains the revolution at hand and goes in-depth convincing the reader as to why they need to jump on this bandwagon. Scott explains, "the real-time mind-set recognizes the importance of speed. It is an attitude to business (and to life) that emphasizes moving quickly when the time is right." In describing how businesses that do have this real-time mind-set run, Scott explains, "public relations staffers are empowered to respond immediately, without asking management or the lawyers."
This is especially important in the face of a crisis. In general ignoring online content especially that from social media can hurt your company tremendously, PR should always engage and respond as quickly as possible. Initial silence comes off as if the company is indeed hiding something. One good point to note is: if your crisis first appears on a social media site, respond on it, do not go to mainstream media first. Those people who were the first to talk about it will see you responded and spread the word.
Monitoring social media for stories about your company before they break is so important to the idea of being in real-time too, Scott explains when it is appropriate to respond on social media sites and when it is useless. If it's a complaint, responding politely can often change their mind, if you don't have an immediate answer to something be honest and tell them you will go try to get to the bottom of the situation. He includes great examples such as the creative ideas of companies that used twitter to take advantage of real-time events, like Delta's PR team that turned what is always a frustrating situation (snowstorms for airline passengers) into a positive opportunity #snowmaggedon via twitter. This book is a great read for anyone in the PR industry and gives relevant example and stories of successes and even includes some failures using social media. It keeps you entertained while at the same time teaching valuable lessons.