The focus of any good PR campaign is to present the product, service or person to a target group. This is done by building relationships with those who have the ability to get your message in front of their audiences. Throughout history, this was typically done using various forms of print, radio and television media. Today, however, social media groups have moved to the forefront of daily communication. In many circles, upon meeting a new business acquaintance, the question arises, “Do you have a LinkedIn or a Facebook”, and “Are you on Twitter? What’s your contact information and I will friend or follow you.” LinkedIn was designed with business networking in mind and is used by business people worldwide to stay in touch, build new contacts and help each other grow their businesses and careers.

While it is important to incorporate social media to your public relations efforts, you must also have policies in place as they relate to this relatively new platform.

Information provided to social media sites cannot easily be retracted, therefore, it is vital to have policies in place with regard using social media to advance public relations. Remembering that each person is responsible for online activity tied to the public relation need. Anytime a site, email or status is tied to a firm’s domain, followers believe the words and images are also the opinion of the firm in question. The actions under that domain, email or other identifier are the ultimate responsibility of the firm and will be held accountable for what is posted.

All who affiliate themselves with the firm or client, even on their personal sites, must remain conscious that people reading those sites will often associate those words with the firm in question. Therefore, it is important to treat personal sites that mention professional affiliations with care and never post photos or words that could damage the client/company image.

Post statuses, blogs and tweets that will not stir controversy, especially if the site has a comment section for reader response. Maintain public relations blogs on a daily basis, so if a negative comment does come through it can be quickly addressed.

Never engage in hostile or negative communication on your client’s social site. Regardless of what is said, responding with hostility will make it grow worse and give rise to sharing, others joining in and a balloon effect. Answering negative comments accurately, truthfully and quickly is the best approach and the one most likely to put out the flame before it becomes a blazing fire.

Social media is an excellent public relations platform if used with care. Remaining professional at all times will promote your clients or company