In PR, How Have Relationships Changed?

During the research phase of my book, I spoke with many PR and marketing professionals about how they were using social media to develop better professional relationships.  Social media allows us to take any relationship to the next level, given the time and commitment, and the ability to find mutual benefit.  Arik Hanson, principal of ACH Communications, a digital communications consultancy, shared his thoughts with me regarding how social media has changed the way PR pros are building relationships.

“In PR, how have relationships changed?  Has social media made it easier or more challenging for PR professionals to build relationships w/bloggers, journalists, customers, etc., I’d say easier in some ways–tougher in others. Tools like Facebook, Twitter and even blogs have opened up the lines of communication between companies and customers. And, those tools have also leveled the playing field a bit when it comes to building and nurturing relationships with reporters and bloggers. It’s easier than it was 5-7 years ago to get to know these folks—and it’s all because of the two-way nature of these tools. But, all these tools also mean there’s more noise for customers, bloggers and customers to cut through. They key for PR professionals is to focus and use the right tools to build relationships with the right bloggers, reporters and customers.

When asked about how PR is responsible to nurture and leverage relationships and how has technology helped, he commented:

“Just think about maintaining effective blogger relationships. With tools like Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Google Plus, it’s easy (although time-consuming) to keep in touch with these folks on a daily basis. A retweet there. A comment here. A “like” there. It all helps us, as PR counselors, stay in front of critical audiences like these and build trust and rapport.”

With respect to a personal example, Arik discussed how he grew his relationship with Industry Author and PR expert Shel Holtz:

“I’ve been a long-time listener of the popular communications podcast, For Immediate Release (FIR). In 2009, after we started Help a PR Pro Out (HAPPO), co-founder Valerie Simon and I had an opportunity to talk with Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson on the show about HAPPO–two gentlemen I had admired for years. That probably would not have happened if I didn’t get to know Shel Holtz a bit better beforehand via social media channels. What started with a few innocuous tweets here and there, led to an in-person breakfast meeting when he was in town for an International Association of Business communicator’s (IABC) event. A few months later, we were chatting on FIR. And, I bump into Shel every now and then at events across the country, like BlogWorld, and we find time to chat then, too.”

The best kind of friendships usually morph from virtual to the physical reality.  What are some of the ways you developing your relationships and how has social media helped you?