Public relations have seen dramatic shifts over the past 10 years with the rise of digital, specifically social media. Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and YouTube have changed the way people get news, hear about products, and interact with companies, including their financial institutions.
These platforms have transformed the industry for credit union professionals. You now have access to a much wider audience without the barriers of the past. It has also given you a great listening tool that provides a robust way to do research, follow trends, and observe and join in on conversations.
There are a few direct ways your financial institution should be utilizing social media beyond just distributing press releases. It is critical that you can adapt to the idea of “Social PR.”
Social media has given rise to the everyday boomer down to young adults who now have access to platforms with millions of people. With the right content and strategy, these average Joes can now become “influencers” based on the number of followers they have. That means, if they support you, follow you or interact with you, so do their hundreds, and possibly thousands, of followers.
From an 18-year-old gamer with millions of subscribers on YouTube to a health food enthusiast with 500K followers on Instagram, influencers are one of the best ways to get brand exposure with a targeted audience. Instagram and YouTube specifically have become massive platforms for these self-made influencers. You may find an influencer in your community that has managed to build 1,000 followers. They matter too.
The best influencers create their own original content and aren’t looking to do blatant advertisements. Although, they know how to incorporate brands and products that align with their niche in a way that is authentic and resonates with their followers. Influencers not only reach a very specific audience, but they can help create trust and drive engagement with that audience. Think of ways to use them. Maybe it is product placement with your branded coffee cup or water bottle in the shot, maybe they tag you the next time they visit your credit union. Find ways to meld yourself to their online community by having a conversation with them. Ask your social savvy staff members to help you engage with current members that are connected.
Connecting With Journalists
When comes to connecting with journalists, Twitter has become a critical tool for the public relations industry. It provides an easy opportunity to research and learn about a journalist.
By looking at their tweets, retweets, hashtags and likes, it makes it easy to find out the topics they focus on and the people they engage with. That information offers an opportunity to start connecting them with helpful content and get into relevant online conversations.
Social media is also a place where journalist are proactively asking for sources for their stories. There are Twitter accounts that are specifically for journalists looking for help supporting their content, such as @helpareporter, @muckrack and @journorequests.
In addition, many journalists will use specific hashtags on Twitter when they are looking for financial experts such as #Journorequest, #PRrequestfinancial and #HelpAReporter. Being on top of these hashtags can help you land media opportunities and gets you mentioned in local, regional, and national articles.
To secure national press, it is critical to be active on the top social media platforms including Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter, and Facebook. The media is looking for sources that have a significant social media following to help amplify their content.
Social media shortens the reaction time to relevant stories, both good and bad. One negative post can spiral among thousands in just minutes.
This means someone at your credit union needs to be monitoring mentions of your brand, as well as employees, especially executives. It is critical for businesses to use social media to manage their reputation and have a plan in place when a potential incident occurs. If you don’t have a crisis PR plan, 2021 is the year to get that done.
When it comes to maximizing social media for PR, it boils down to four things: listening to the conversations that are happening online, building relationships, being quick to react and finding ways to insert your organization into the conversations.