Week 6 Guest Speaker Roundup – by Barbara Lee

A Conversation with Marina Gonima & Shannon McPhee of Bender/Helper Impact

By UCLA X425 Student Barbara Lee

Where PR and Social Media Meet

On Tuesday, November 2nd, I (along with students at UCLAx425 class on social media) had the privilege of listening to two awesome PR professionals share their insight on how they’re really using social media day to day. Now, the reason why I use the word “really” is because Maria Gonima and Shannon McPhee (other than our awesome teacher Erik) were prime examples of PR folk interacting with and utilizing social media to its fullest potential. Whereas many of our previous speakers dropped some serious knowledge about what social media was and how to use it right, Maria and Shannon – in my humble opinion – were living examples of what the future of PR looks like.

I’m going to practice what I learned in class and keep this blog post short by briefly summarizing the main points I took away from our final (shedding tear) class:

1. Relationships are just as real on Twitter as they are in real life – As a PR professional, media relations is pretty much the bread and butter of what I do. Before the class, the picture that came to mind when I thought of the term media relations was a picture of me in my office making phone calls, writing emails and interacting (or dare I say – talking up) reporters at work or industry functions. Never did I once consider Twitter as a medium to grow and maintain my relationships with media. According to the experts, tweeting and interacting on social media platforms with reporters can be a huge addition to fostering or initiating great relationships with media.

2. PR and social media combined is like a PB&J sandwich, good separately but great together – Maria brought up a great example of her work with Cristiano Ronaldo. A large component of the success of his new website was due to all the traffic that was driven by great PR. The site itself does a great job of aggregating all of Ronaldo’s social media profiles, but getting placement on ESPN and USA Today, for example, were huge factors in getting people to actually check out his site. This is just one example of how traditional media presence can easily translate into online/social media presence. One without the other would have been an incomplete campaign.

3. The near future of social media will be in aggregation – Many people are already overwhelmed with the many profiles they have to upkeep. Seeing how these profiles are just the beginning of many more to come, aggregation is going to be huge in being able to manage brands for companies in the future. The ability to control and manage a consistent message is critical for all successful PR campaigns. While at first glance, social media may appear to threaten more than assist, the success of Ronaldo’s online brand serves as a clear indicator that aggregation can make this more than possible.

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