Public Relations Tactics

Achieving success with social media

July 1, 2010

Sarah Evans didn’t talk about any new gadgets or gimmicks during her keynote address at the T3PR Conference on June 11.

Instead, Evans, president of Sevans Strategy and founder of  #journchat on Twitter, discussed the necessity of integrating an organized and innovative approach to social media tools, which is more than finding the next Twitter or Foursquare. “It’s about bringing structure, focus and strategy to the idea of social media,” she said.

She added that keeping up with every new platform will only distract you from honing your skills and integrating technology throughout your communication.

During the conference, which was presented by PRSA’s Technology Professional Interest Section, Evans listed the following steps to focus your efforts and achieve sustainable success:

  • Know what you want to accomplish. This is your goal, which becomes your strategy. Reaching new customers requires a different approach than keeping tabs on your competitors.
  • Identify the business’ social media structure. Different organizations have different needs, goals and resources. Find the structure that works for you.
  • Integrate social media into an existing business plan. Clearly define responsibilities so that social media doesn’t become a turf war.
  • Establish social media policy. This is an essential step for every organization that uses social media. Identify who can say what, when and where. Know when you will or will not respond — especially in a crisis. Make sure that your policy is sustainable, and prepare an exit strategy.  The policy should also address whether employees need social media training and define appropriate social media use versus abusing time online.
  • Examine your workflow, and change it as necessary. Evans said that the most common resistance to social media she hears is, “I have no time.” But it’s not about working more; it’s about working better. Create a process, a system, a habit. Break down tasks if necessary.  This will help eliminate confusion and streamline the process.
  • Integrate listening. Pay attention to where people are going. Connect through niche audiences. Facebook and Twitter may be the big names, but there are other networks for people who are interested in shopping, cooking, sports, etc.

Evans said that PR professionals need to focus on more than one social media platform and create tactics that are multifunctional. To do so, Evans offered the following tips:

  • Find an opportunity to showcase what you do best.
  • Hijack a conversation and offer an opportunity for others to share. It’s not about being the loudest, but about owning a piece of the conversation.
  • Meet needs in an innovative way.
  • Ask your audience what they want, and then give it to them.
  • Create a lot of quality content. Give freely, give often. Evans said that she believes in abundance — there is enough business for everyone.
Kyra Auffermann is the digital content editor for Tactics. She oversees PRSA’s daily Issues & Trends e-newsletter. She is a Boston College graduate.
Email: kyra.auffermann at


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