How long can PR last online?

Problogger asked a very simple question: How Long Do You Take To Write a Blog Post?  Within two days, 289 comments have been left with answers ranging from a few minutes to a whole day (up to a week with research).  Most people seem to take around an hour for a post.

PR practitioners thinking about improving their organisation’s online reputation need to recognise the time required in connecting though social media.  Not only is time required for preparing and writing interesting posts, but responding to comments, monitoring feeds, visiting other blogs, engaging in online (and backroom) conversations all suck up hours.

That’s just blogs, which are relatively easy to consider.  What about Twitter which, like email, seems to require an obsessive approach?  Or after setting up a simple Google Alert to monitor a popular brand or topic, the PR team needs resources to read, react and report.  As Seth Godin writes it is easy to spend all day responding and reacting to incoming alerts and pings.

Then there are your social network sites – personal and professional.  How long does it take to manage your online profile, connect with friends or contacts, upload, update and participate? 

Setting up groups takes minutes, but building a thriving community takes commitment.  Check out any ‘corporate’ group on Facebook – it probably has a few dozen early members and little engagement.  Now visit the Jeremy Clarkson for Prime Minister group – it has over 370,000 members – thanks to a frankly rather sad, group of fans (yes, they do appear to be University students) adding content.

Few companies, let alone their PR teams, can dedicate the amount of time that private individuals do through social media.  Most of us blog as a passion – and slow down when real life, and work, affects the time we have. 

But if an organisation has made the decision to participate online, it needs to maintain the momentum and show a genuine commitment to those with whom it seeks to connect.

Of course, we see a lot of organisations, and individuals, start off enthusiastically about online communications and fizzle out.  Their PR and marketing agencies and consultants come in with big ideas and get them started with loads of online initiatives.  But without the budget to keep them fresh, such sites stagnate and are a sorry legacy for any organisation or brand.

Let’s face it, many organisations have pretty static websites as they don’t even devote regular resource to updating these (or they have signed up to services that rely on external providers to amend content). 

Social media sites need freshness – not just for the sake of it, but because any business needs to remain top of mind and have something to say if it wants to be a credible online player.  The RSS feeds from your site must regularly offer up news and opinion.

If PR practitioners are recommending engagement with online communications, they have to be prepared for the long-haul and time commitment involved.  You can’t just sell the boss or client on the idea of being online – they need to understand this is a strategy not a tactic. 

Like a dog, blogging isn’t just for Christmas, like a marriage it takes working at.  There’s no quick fix to participating social media.  It just takes time.

Published by

Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

3 thoughts on “How long can PR last online?”

  1. Heather, great post, I agree companies can’t just dabble at social media as it needs real commitment. Blogging is a passion but some days it comes relatively easy and on others it can take much more work and inspiration.

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  3. It is exactly the notion of “online strategy” that I sell to my clients, Heather. Organic SEO and website traffic do not come overnight; they are the fruit of many hours of linking labour. Drawing online traffic is about building a repoire with a community much larger than the suit and tie crowd. I believe this is a new sector in PR being born– a blend of brand, reputation management, social media and marketing strategy.

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