Social Media and Public Relations: 10 Tactics to Grow Your Business

How can you use public relations strategies with social media to help grow your business? Public relations strategies have been around for centuries, and social media is the relatively new kid on the block. So can public relations and social media strategies be used together successfully? Yes, and in this article, we’ll show you how.

Find out how to...

  • use social media to help with your public relations
  • optimise your social media profile for public relations
  • combine social media and public relations into a seamless master strategy
  • deploy social media to build better public relations

There are a lot of common factors in both social media and public relations strategies. Most businesses and organisations use social media to share information about their brand, which helps increase brand awareness and can lead to an enhanced brand reputation. These objectives are well aligned with the principle purpose of public relations.

The rise of social media marketing agencies has been a game-changer for public relations experts. Traditional public relations agencies disseminated information through conventional media channels such as newspapers, trade journals, radio and TV.

This required a substantial budget to reach a large number of people. Not a problem for larger organisations, but not so great for small or medium-sized businesses, which would often struggle to get the word out about their business. But social media changed all that – levelling the playing field by making access to potential target audiences equally easy for anyone.

That’s not to say conventional media channels are out of date or useless in the world of social media. They still have a role. But nowadays, no business is hindered by the cost of getting their message out.

Social media makes it incredibly easy and super quick to reach out to targeted audiences, be they existing or potential customers, or investors. It’s never been easier to share relevant news, product updates or other information with local or global audiences.

As a business owner or leader of an organisation, you’re no longer at the mercy of PR agencies. You can adopt a hands-on approach if you want, and control what is shared and when with those you want to reach.

You can schedule your new product launch, updates on your organisation, publish white papers, case studies, and even downloadable e-books – all through your social media accounts.

What’s most impressive is how cost-effective social media is. You can target exactly who you want with pinpoint accuracy at a fraction of the cost of conventional offline advertising strategies.

So who wouldn’t be interested in incorporating social media tactics into their public relations strategy? It makes perfect sense!

But before we look at specific public relations strategies you can use with social media, it’s important to make sure your social media presence is in good shape and will appeal to your target audience.

Make Your Social Media Profile Attractive for Public Relations

Complete Your Profile

It doesn’t matter if you use Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn, an impressive and appealing profile is a must. Take time to craft a professional bio that shows your business or organisation at its best. Convince your target audience that you can solve their problems or help with whatever needs they have.

Make a visual impact

Don’t underestimate how important visual stimulation is in social media. It’s a visually rich platform, so make sure all profile pictures, logos, and images are high-quality and ‘Instagram- worthy’. Also, don’t forget that people will see your visual content as representing your brand, business or organisation. So ensure it makes the right impression!

Be consistent

There’s no point in starting by posting content daily, but by the end of the first month, the frequency of posts has dropped to a couple per week. Building a following on social media takes time and effort. And your target audience will come to expect a certain level of consistency in posting.

So be prepared to invest the necessary time and effort to maintain both the quantity and quality of your social media content strategy. Being consistent will keep your brand front and centre in the minds of your followers.

Now that your social media profile is optimised, it’s time to learn how to use social media to turbocharge your public relations strategies and make your business grow.

10 Proven Social Media and Public Relations Strategies

1. Plan a Strategy for Each Channel

You need to select which social media channels are best for your brand. Not all social media channels are effective for every business. Many companies offering B2B products or services use LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook successfully to target their audiences.

With a little research, you can learn which platforms your target audience is using, and focus your effort on those channels.

You need to be consistent across all the channels you use. Although you can use the same profile picture and core content across multiple channels, it’s best to vary things to be more

creative and engaging. What do we mean by this? For example, on Facebook live videos are very popular, on Instagram visuals get lots of attention, and LinkedIn is the place for content focused on thought leadership and targeting groups.

You should create your channel strategy based on the strengths of each platform to achieve the best results.

2. Use Cross-Channel Promotion with Social Media

You shouldn’t think about each social media channel as being an independent entity. Consider them as complementary tools. So come up with ideas to promote your content across the various channels. For example, you can use a video on Facebook to promote an in-depth report or opinion piece on LinkedIn.

Alternatively, you can post a quick update on Twitter to promote a live streaming event you’re planning to host on Facebook. Include the date, time, and what it’s about, and a solid call to action. Something like, “This Wednesday, we’ll be discussing how to double your business sales, live with [name of guest/host] at 5:30 pm. Find out how your business can benefit!

3. Focus Your Messaging on Customers

You need to create a customer-centric message for your target audience on social media. Most people don’t like feeling that they are being sold something. It’s an easy way to lose followers – if you’re too pushy and sales focused.

So your challenge is to be engaging and increase brand awareness but without seeming to be always selling. How can you achieve this?

Your main goal for content that you put out on your social media channels should be focused on the needs of your target audience. Give them answers to questions they might have. Show them how to overcome a problem. Inspire them with tips to make their own business better.

Your content should address their needs first and not how to sell more of your products or services. You can publish a short but useful e-book or guide that your audience can download, host contests, do giveaways, and provide discount codes for followers. People will then be more open to receiving news about your company and new products when mixed in with
other content which is beneficial to them.

4. Don’t Ignore Journalists

The rise of social media doesn’t mean that building relationships with journalists is no longer a necessary part of public relations. Today, journalists are often some of the most active people on social media. Be smart and use your social channels to build relationships with journalists.

How can you do this? Identify key journalists in your sector, and follow them on Twitter or whichever platform they are most active on. Share their relevant content with your target audience, or use some of their insights in your content and give them a shout out. Journalists pay attention to social media traffic, so become a positive part of it.

When you have a newsworthy event or item you wish to promote, it should be a logical move to share it with those journalists, as long as it’s within their area. If you do your research beforehand, you can create a pitch which won’t seem overly self-promotional but will give journalists some useful and interesting content for their followers.

5. Make Your Press Releases Social Media Friendly

You can use social media to complement your existing strategy for press releases. But, social media should not be seen as a direct replacement.

Get creative with your press releases to promote and exploit them across your social media channels. Including click to tweet links within your press release is a great tactic. You can also share a short preview of a press release on your social media channels. And if your press release contains images or video, make sure to publish engaging excerpts on social media for your followers.

6. Leverage Press Mentions

When you get mentioned in the press, sharing it on your social media channels can help you make the most of it. Include the title of the publication, name of author, and, of course, a link to the mention. A quick shout-out is enough, “Thrilled about the feature on us in @nameofpublication by @authorname. Great job! Check it out at {link}!”

Press mentions prove that your business is worth talking about. And by sharing them, you not only further increase awareness of your brand, but continue to build strong relationships with journalists and publications.

7. Discover Relevant and Trending Topics

Choosing the right topic can often make your public relations strategy even more effective. Create appealing content based on a relevant and trending topic and watch your public relations strategy take off! Do some research to discover what’s hot at the moment on social media. What content is getting all the likes? What are people talking about? What hashtags for your industry or sector are trending? Also, check out what industry leaders are saying: is there a common theme/topic?

8. Develop Yourself as a Thought Leader

What is a thought leader? It’s someone who is an expert in whatever they do, and someone whose opinion is sought regarding industry-related topics. The social media platform is a perfect channel for developing yourself as a thought leader.

You can use social media in various ways to develop yourself as a thought leader. Share your expert opinion and useful tips on relevant blog posts, forums, or in LinkedIn groups. Be sure to share relevant content that highlights your expertise, especially if it has expert tips, trend insights, or useful tactics that others in the industry might find useful.

9. Extend Your Reach

The greatest advantage social media has over conventional public relations channels is its reach. Facebook has 2.6 billion active monthly users, Twitter has 330 million, and LinkedIn has 303 million. A huge audience! And these are active users!

Now, you don’t want to reach out to everyone because not everyone is your ideal client or audience. But the good news is that nowadays you can deploy very sophisticated targeting tools for social networks. These allow you to target exactly those people who fall within your target audience persona.

Consider paying to promote your best content.

If you have great content that you believe deserves to be seen – consider using paid promotion techniques to highlight it and amplify its impact on social media channels.

10. Drive People to Your Website

Your main website should be at the core of any online marketing plan and should feature in your public relations and social media strategies. Link all your press mentions, social media content and other content published online to your website.

Think of it as a central destination to which you drive people who want to find out more about who you are and what you do. Create a dedicated landing page for campaigns that warrant it. Or link to the home page or blog section of your site. Just make sure that when people click on your site, they find it easy to navigate and find what they are looking for, be it product details, advice, or information about your business.

So How Do Get Started?

Here are some essential tools and tactics to give you some ideas and inspiration to get started on improving your public relations and social media strategy:

Useful Tools and Tactics

Social media release (SMR): build on the traditional news release and focus on social media. Add to the basic content of your newsworthy event by including images, video, audio, social bookmarking links and RSS feeds for a complete SMR kit.

Publicity stunt

Create an unusual or engaging ‘event’ for the sole purpose of generating public interest and publicity for your business or organisation. It should have human interest appeal, a degree of novelty, and be worthy of photos or videos to encourage sharing across social media channels.

Fact sheet

Draft a short document providing essential information regarding your business or organisation, or a specific event. Keep it concise, use bullets, and make it downloadable from your website or blog. You can use it to support press releases and other media content.

Media kit

This is often a PDF document, designed to outline critical information for potential sponsors of your business, website or blog. Be sure to lay out solid reasons why they should work with you. A professionally created media kit will help build beneficial relationships, and sponsors will take your business or organisation more seriously.

Web media centre

Dedicate a page on your website specifically for news media. You can include breaking news, archives of previous press releases, supplementary information such as bio sheets of key personnel, fact sheets, an event calendar, and contact details of people who deal with media queries. Also, make sure to link to other key pages on your website.

Press releases

Never underestimate the power of a well-written press release. They’re a long-time favourite tool of any PR department and with good reason. They work – if done right!

What’s more, a press release is a very cost-effective tool that you can use for outreach. Something to keep in mind since many top communication executives slate PR budget restraints among their top challenges.

Many consumers put greater trust in earned media rather than paid-for promotions. So get your press release featured in relevant publications, on websites and blogs, and you’ll be well on the way to building trust with your target audience. And that should be one of your top goals!


Whether you organise a local fundraiser or a conference, hosting events is a great way to reach out to people and develop a sense of community around your brand. In the process, you’ll increase brand awareness and develop potentially important partnerships. So using events should be an integral part of your public relations plan.


Speaking of partnerships, probably one of the most effective tactics used by many brands, from influential Youtubers to global brands, is collaborative partnerships. Do you want to grow your audience? Then why not collaborate with a partner and leverage each other’s brands for mutual benefit.

How do you form an awesome partnership? Let’s say you do most of your sales through your online store. But maybe you have certain products which you are sure would benefit from consumers being able to see it ‘in the flesh’ or try it before purchasing. So, look for a partner

with retail premises that isn’t offering competing products, and who would welcome some additional foot traffic in their store.

Here is some more inspiration for collaborative partnerships:

  • Sponsorship: get your brand out there by supporting sports teams, e-sports, festivals, or local events.
  • Cross-brand promotions: promote special deals in-store, on-pack, online or on social media.
  • Licensing: explore new markets through licensing your products.
  • Emerging technology: leverage new technology to engage your audience.
  • Celebrity or influencer endorsement: find someone who is a good fit for your brand.
  • Write to the Editor: If your business addresses a specific issue or you have a ‘corporate cause’ that people can rally behind, write to the editors of local news publications in the areas where your audience live. A letter to the editor might seem somewhat old-fashioned, but if it’s well crafted it can still be very effective. Advocate your position and explain what needs to be done, and what you’re already doing to solve the problem. If you’re convincing enough, your cause could gather some serious attention!
  • Pop-up stores. Organising a pop-up store could lead to you getting earned media coverage. Take advantage of seasonal shopping trends or use it as an opportunity to increase brand awareness, get valuable face time with some of your online customers, and build stronger relationships.
  • Actionable research. People love insightful and timely tips on what’s happening in their industry. Develop your thought leadership and do your research. This will help prove your expertise. If you have questions, then others probably do too. So use your curiosity to shape the subject of the research.

You can share your findings on your social media channels. And don’t forget to share the results with the journalists you have relationships with; they love new and original sources to use in their content.

Final Thoughts

What makes an effective public relations campaign?

So let’s delve into a classic example of an awesome public relations strategy in action. There’s a lot that you can learn from it, and some important actionable points too.

ALS Ice Bucket Challenge

Back in 2014, the original Ice Bucket Challenge was much more than just a social media viral video sensation. It helped raise more than $220 million for the ALS Association and also increased awareness regarding this very serious illness, and the need for a cure.

Why was the Ice Bucket Challenge such a successful campaign? Here are some key elements:

  • People could rally behind the cause and feel good about doing good.
  • The challenge called for people to participate. Engagement was high, especially among those with large social media followings. Celebrities even got in on the challenge.
  • It was novel and fun! Not surprisingly, the following year, the campaign wasn’t such a roaring success as the original – the novelty factor was no longer as powerful.

These three elements together, a worthy cause, participation and engagement, and the novelty/fun factor came together to create probably the most well-known and effective viral PR campaign in recent years. Although social media delivered the results, the creation and objectives of the campaign were derived from tried and tested PR strategies.

What can you learn from this?
You don’t always need a massive marketing budget to achieve great results in public relations. All you need is a good idea and perfect execution to go viral!

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