Social Media and PR: How are they connected?

By: Molly Gilarde 

Over the years, social media has become an increasingly important part of the field of public relations. Many companies and organizations use social media to further their brand and connect with consumers.

There are various social media platforms that have become very popular. Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram are a few of the platforms that tend to dominate the market.

During the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, PR agency Edelman used social media to help its client, Ajinomoto, a company that manufactures frozen food. Ajinomoto is often used by Chinese restaurants, which were hard hit during the pandemic due to xenophobia (prejudice against people from another country), even when other restaurants saw sales skyrocket. 

Edelman saw an opportunity to spread their message – that it was okay to order Chinese food – through social media. They created a hashtag (#TakeOutHate) and had celebrities post videos of themselves eating takeout from Chinese restaurants. In these videos, the celebrities would explain why they are supporting the campaign and encourage viewers to make their own videos to shout out Asian restaurants they love. Through this campaign, Edelman was able to normalize eating food from Chinese restaurants again, as well as spotlight restaurants that may have been struggling. By using social media, the campaign was able to reach over 1.3 billion people and spotlight over 2,500 restaurants. 

PR agencies are not the only ones who use social media to promote a brand. The UGA Gymnastics team uses Instagram in order to better connect with its fans and create hype for the season. At practice each day, managers take short videos of the gymnasts practicing. They then select the best videos and add engaging captions before posting them to the team’s Instagram story. By doing this, they hope to help the fans feel more connected to the team – as if they are really watching the gymnasts practice! The managers are also encouraged to post videos that showcase the gymnasts’ personalities. If fans feel a personal connection to the team, they will likely be more passionate and supportive. In addition, posting training videos can build up excitement around new skills and routines the gymnasts are working on. This can help fans become more excited to support the team during the upcoming season. 

These are just a couple of examples of how social media can be used in the field of public relations. If you want to work in PR, it is important to understand how social media is used because it has a large impact on communications and how information is spread. As a UGA student, there are many ways to build your skills in this area, such as coordinating the social media for a club or organization. PRSSA has a social media committee which would be a great place to start. Gaining real world experience with social media will give you a leg up in the public relations industry.