By far the most significant trend to affect public relations in the last 25 years is the impact played by social media. While those responsible for such areas as distribution and personal selling may use social media in a general way, such as sending out announcements, there are other areas of marketing where social media has significantly transformed how things are done. And maybe the most impacted area is public relations.
In a matter of just a few years, social networks have created opportunities for monitoring and communicating that are quickly raising these methods to the top of the list of PR tools. In fact, many journalists and other media members find social media to be a more convenient way to acquire information, particularly if they want to monitor happenings in a specific industry. By following relevant social media postings, members of the media have information delivered to them, rather than having to spend time searching for it. Consequently, marketers have little option but to move more of their PR function in this direction.
While social media offers tremendous PR advantages across many outlets, it also poses significant threats. As was noted, one of the most pressing issues is that social media forces PR professionals to respond rapidly to negative or misleading information. In effect, social media is turning PR into a 24-hour, 7 days-a-week job, particularly for global companies.
Also, the time required to monitor and respond to the growing number of social media outlets is forcing some companies to place less emphasis on traditional public relations tasks, such as the creation of press kit materials. However, since social media continues to evolve as a PR tool, it is unclear if shifting workload to social media will carry the same return on investment as what is offered with traditional PR tools.