Have you ever heard of the term “hero”? No, I’m not talking about the NBC series HEROES that went off the air back in February. The term HERO stands for Highly Empowered and Resourceful Operatives. HERO caught my eye when I was reading an article in Mashable about how people (employees and customers) are using social media to shape the way companies are perceived and to give the customer a voice against the big, bad corporate giant. As Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff wrote in the article, “Consumers can take a stand against poor business practices, and brands can empower their customers like never before.”
I often find myself acting nostalgic with my kids about how things were different when I was their age. Ok, ok, no more stories about me walking 10 miles uphill in the snow both ways to school. Back then if something was wrong with a product you bought or you couldn’t get past the customer service department then you were pretty much out of luck. Customers were at the mercy of the company and there wasn’t much recourse available.
But now, social media outlets (like Facebook’s 500 million users) offer consumers and employees the chance to share their views (both positive and negative) about the company. For the company it can be a great way to show how proactive they are wrt customer support. For the consumer it’s a great way to finally have some leverage against the big corporations of the world. Check out this blog post from Econsultancy about how social media can impact customer service. Also, look at home some of Europe’s airlines took advantage of social media to address customer issues when the Icelandic volcano erupted and disrupted global travelback in April
But for PR and marketing the rise of social media has forever altered the way we work. Social media has the ability to establish instant dialogue and, using an older PR term, “create buzz.” Now, when you plan a product launch or big announcement, you need to factor in the social media avenue. How can I spread the word? How do I engage industry influencers? How do I write a crisis communications plan that includes social media? All legitimate questions which showcase the power that social media now has.
The rise of the Internet in the mid-1990’s forever changed the way that PR works. No more waiting around for the weekly tech publications to come out to see if we secured coverage. I truly believe that the advent of social media has also forever changed the way that we work in the PR and marketing world.
What about you? Have you found that you are incorporating elements of social media into your PR planning process?
Author: Rob Goodman
Rob Goodman is a communications professional with more than 27 years of experience in public relations, marketing and content creation.