Publicity and Social Media: A Match Made in Heaven

The role of publicists has always been to promote the public image and reputation of people, products and businesses. It is their job to develop a strategy, shape a consistent message, work with the media, and create exposure. This job has never been more important or multifaceted than right now. Due to social media tools, the responsibility of a publicist is moving and growing, creating a very robust and exciting time for the industry.

The question has been raised lately about the value of publicists in today's market. Of course, I accept my bias, but I think you need a publicist more than ever, and here are the five reasons why:

Reason #1: Social Media
Social media tools allow publicists to interlock all the activities into a cohesive campaign. Through Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, Slideshare, features on websites, and blog reviews they can get more exposure and help build the clients' reputations in their target communities.

Reason #2: Timing
Social media has also changed the timing of marketing campaigns. Instead of creating a blitz campaign of shock and awe (advertising driven), today we need a sustained campaign of community building and long-term exposure. Publicists are best suited for this kind of work. Blogging and social media are only tools. A good publicist should map out a campaign strategy so you know what to blog and tweet about. The strategy should be blended carefully into the short- and long-term goals of the client. Here's a cool tool you can use to check out timing: Google Trends can give you an idea about when a topic becomes a tipping point.

Reason #3: Cost-Effective
As amazing as your product or company may be, it needs help to find its market. It is more cost-effective to tailor the relationship-building campaign to its niche markets through blogger outreach, Web publicity and social media interactions than to spend the money on advertising in mass media.

Reason #4: Access
Although access to journalists and producers is no longer the domain of the well-connected publicist, those relationships are more important than ever. Journalists are getting pitched by amateurs through email, not to mention on their blogs, Twitter feeds, LinkedIn and even on Facebook. Many of them tell me that they are feeling under siege from these relentless nonprofessionals. Although getting access has become easier, gaining attention is tougher than ever. A publicist builds his or her relationship with editors, journalists, producers, freelancers, and bloggers over months and years. They then trust the publicist as a filter for quality and control.

Reason #5: Reputation Monitoring
Word of mouth and positive reputation is not only important today, it is the essential growth element for all persons and businesses. Creating good will and a good customer experience is important for the tech savvy consumer who is a click away from switching to another expert. Monitoring reputation has come a long way. With search tools like Google, Topsy, and Social Mention, publicists can stay current with the conversations, allowing them to react more quickly to protect their clients' reputations as well as to take advantage of any hot-button issues. Another great tool to monitor conversations is Bing's real-time Twitter search.

In this new decade, publicity is changing in an exciting and fundamental way. It is constantly improving because the tools to monitor, research, build relationships, and develop strategy have never been better. This trend will only continue to grow and expand. In the words of Seth Godin, "Conversations among the members of your marketplace happen whether you like it or not. Good marketing encourages the right sort of conversations."

If you are interested in social media and digital marketing news, you can follow me on a new Twitter feed @WebSnapshot

Fauzia Burke is the Founder and President of FSB Associates, an Internet marketing firm specializing in creating awareness for books and authors on the Web. Founded in 1995, FSB's mission is to give authors an opporutnity to promote their work to an eager, targeted audience online. FSB is based in the NYC area. For more information, please visit FSB Associates.