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PR & Social Media: Branding Masterminds

Published on March 24, 2021, at 6:20 p.m.  
by Olivia Cooley.

When it comes to successful social media campaigns, the planning that occurs behind the scenes goes unnoticed most of the time. The hours and details put into strategizing many campaigns are a different world in itself. Countless days dedicated to planning, designing and researching to make sure each campaign is unique help create a platform’s presence.

Despite the rise and growing influence of digital and social media, the need for good public relations is an important tool that builds an impactful presence. Public relations in social media can also help reach new target audiences and help build a better reputation in the public’s eye.

Public relations and social media go hand in hand, and they are both vital toward an organization’s brand — they conjoin and become branding masterminds.

Greek life organizations are a perfect example of how public relations and social media influence their reputations through branding.

The Southeastern Conference colleges in the U.S. hold a significant presence when it comes to their Greek life. Directors from Louisiana State University and The University of Alabama explained the inner-workings of maintaining the public perception of sorority life.

Emma Britt, director of marketing for Chi Omega Nu Beta, and Bailey Hansen, director of public relations for Alabama Panhellenic Association, dive into the strategy and lessons learned from overlooking large platforms for Greek life.

The University of Alabama has the largest fraternity and sorority community in the nation. With this honor comes the responsibility of maintaining and upholding this reputation through its social media presence.

Know your audience
When asked the biggest lesson learned from running a major social media account, both directors explained that adapting to change and knowing a platform’s target audience will help expose media the most effectively.

Photo by Mikael Blomkvist from Pexels

Britt said, “Knowing your target audience closely is extremely important. Social media is a great way to attract people you are trying to reach, so it is vital that you and your team are on the same page regarding an audience and your organization’s main purpose on social media.”

Hansen agreed, saying that knowing who to reach and keeping up with the changing environment of social media are the two most important lessons. “In the social media and public relations world, trends are changing in a blink of an eye.”

Louisiana State University student and social media director for Chi Omega Phi Gamma Avery Jarreau gave a different perspective regarding the biggest lesson learned from running an important social media platform.

She explained that serving as social media director for Chi Omega’s Instagram has influenced her own life more than anything. “I have learned to be mindful of all my content and always consider every party involved before I post. I strive to represent everybody as equally and gracefully as possible.”

Social media strategy
With the mindset of adapting to change at all times and narrowing down audiences, having a strategy behind a post or campaign is just as important. Public relations, joint with social media, plays a huge role in strategy for the ultimate goal of influencing a brand’s reputation and telling the story of who an organization is and what it stands for.

Photo by Tracy Le Blanc from Pexels

Each director explained that every post on the Instagram platform requires research, planning and content calendars. Posts executed with clarity and precision will therefore increase audience engagement and lead to growth of that specific platform.

A strong public relations and social media strategy “has the power of not only growing our internet following, but growing how much awareness and acceptance we have by each sort of content we post,” explained Britt.

Hansen agreed and added that public relations can help a brand greatly if used in the right way. “With COVID-19 and everything, all we know is on social media, whether that’s a boutique showing its new hours or seeing a new food item on a restaurant’s menu,” said Hansen.

Brand growth
Social media is one of the most influential digital marketing platforms that increases brand visibility among new viewers. Being strategic in communicating with a target audience is equally important in terms of shaping a brand, but in order to continue brand growth, new ideas and well-thought-out content are important.

Each director gave different advice for brand growth that all feed into the main goal of expanding an audience.

Jarreau said, “I support other Greek affiliations and social at other universities through social media by reposting and liking their content.” She is passionate about supporting and growing the Panhellenic community as a whole by spotlighting their content.

Hansen agreed and added, “I keep growing our brand with new social media techniques, whether that be engaging story posts or videos.”

With these techniques, Britt added, “The main way we keep growing is by constantly adding platforms, such as TikTok and Pinterest, to keep up and reach the current generation. We also grow our brand by trying our best to represent all kinds of people within our organization by coming up with new and creative ways to keep viewers engaged and interact with who we are.”

All in all, there is much more that goes on behind the scenes of a social media post. Knowing how to reach a target audience by using public relations and social media is vital for maintaining an impactful platform presence. Being creative, out of the box and strategic are only a few of the ways to tell your story through social media. As stated by Britt, “Social media has the power to tell your story like no other marketing tool out there — so use it wisely.”

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