5 Reasons PR Pros Need to Be on Twitter

At today’s PR Directions conference in Sydney, I was on a panel discussion with Matthew Gain my industry comrade from Edelman who made a great point during our session when he said if you’re in PR today you really need to be on Twitter. No excuses.

I couldn’t agree more. Now there are probably a handful of people out there who should NOT be on Twitter solely because of what comes out of their mouths on any given day – getting on Twitter would equate to a career limiting move! But those people should probably not be in PR.

And “being on Twitter” doesn’t have to mean Tweeting five times a minute, either. Some of the most interesting people who I follow only Tweet a handful of times a week but they’re usually sharing a great insight or pointing out a must-read article. And that’s OK.

If you’re in public relations, here are five reasons you should be on Twitter:

1. Media Are There: As of two years ago, there were more than 500 Australian journalists on Twitter and if you follow your favourite journo closely you’ll often find them asking for sources or story ideas. If you’re proactively looking for opportunities to get media coverage for your client Twitter is a smart place to be as you’ll find those opportunities and develop better relationships with journalists. All part of the core job requirements of any PR pro.

2. Trains You to Move Faster: PR in general moves fast. The thing I love most about Twitter is that it gets you in the habit of moving and creating content even faster. What’s trending one minute is yesterday’s news the next minute. In order to give clients great counsel and be one step ahead, we need to be on top of what’s trending on Twitter whether it’s to provide them with something to retweet, to share an insight on something that’s trending in the media or to inspire them to start participating as well.

3. Better Manage a Crisis: When I spoke at a travel industry conference in Taipei last year, I woke up to a massive rumbling at 6AM and saw my hotel room literally move two feet in either direction. It turned out to be my first earth quake – a 6.5. The first thing I did was went to search.twitter.com and looked for “earthquake” and “Taipei” – nothing. Checked CNN – nothing. Because there had been nothing on Twitter I half believed that it couldn’t have been an earthquake. Today Twitter is the first place media and consumers turn when there’s an issue – whether its’ a product recall or massive natural disaster. If your client or your brand is the issue then you need to be there in the conversation and getting your side of the message out – otherwise no one will believe you!

4. Cross-Business Collaboration:  The great thing about Twitter is that it serves a number of cross-business functions and gives PR an opportunity to use social media to improve ROI across the enterprise. For example, you might engage the HR department to use Twitter to recruit the next wave of talent. It might give you an opportunity to engage customer service to better manage customer feedback and reduce the burden on more expensive call centres. Or you might have a chat to the head of product innovation and talk about how to listen to what customers “wished” they could get from your brand.

5. Find a New Gig: We are hiring for a digital strategist and last Friday I was given what was billed to be a great CV by a recruiter. Even before opening the CV, the very first thing I looked at was her Twitter account which contained zero Tweets or even a profile picture. While she had to go into the “no” basket, you’ll position yourself well by at least being present on Twitter and if you follow hash tags like #jobs you might even spot an opportunity or two for yourself. (PS – interested? DM me for details).

Lastly, being on Twitter will allow you to explain what the hell a “hashtag” is – and how to use it an event. And if you want to follow a great hashtag check out PRIA’s PR Directions conference hash tag at #PRDir!

What do you think? Are there other reasons to be… or not to be… on Twitter.