Can Social Media replace PR? What we can learn from Beyonce and Jill Abramson.

I don’t think there is a person in the United States that didn’t participate in the water cooler chatter surrounding the post MET Gala Beyonce/JayZ/Solange elevator incident.

In the wake of this incident and the recent outing of Jill Abramson of The New York Times, Maureen O’Conner wrote a great article on New York Magazine’s website discussing how the modern celebrity can now look to social media outlets, specifically Instagram, as a way to speak directly to the general audience and augment a traditional crisis PR strategy.

As a public relations specialist, I think there are a few things to think about before using the internet for crisis communications.

Are you Beyonce? The answer to this one should be pretty obvious to most of us (you are not), but still worth reviewing. As a personality and a celebrity brand, I think we would all agree that Beyonce grabs massive amounts of media attention on a regular basis. Her decision to use Instagram as a way of engaging with fans and getting out statements to the press works for her in a way that might not work the same for more corporate/less personality driven brands.

What is your social media history? Now that we have established (sadly) that you are not Beyonce, its important to take a look at your social media history. Are you or your brand active on social media outlets? Do you engage often with each audience? Do you have a large number of followers/fans on Twitter/Facebook/Instagram? If you are just getting started on a social media campaign and don’t have a huge audience, only addressing a crisis on social media might not reach enough of the right people, lessening its effectiveness.

Do you still need a communications strategy? The short answer is yes. I am pretty sure that Beyonce had a social media strategy in place with her response to the elevator incident, using Instagram as a way to communicate her message until her team was ready to release an official statement to the press. No matter how big or small your audience is on social media, its always important to take those outlets into account as you deal with a crisis.

Written by: Chandni Patel

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