Is Social Media A Necessity In PR?

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PR agency specialists utilise social media as a primary tool to interact and engage with consumers and to build relationships that create positive results, so it was surprising to hear in April 2018 that JD Wetherspoons has made the decision to close its well followed social media accounts on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for their head office and 900 plus pub network. They feel confident that this won’t have any impact on their PR success.

Why do this? Most marketing agency specialists would shudder at the idea

Their explanation for the action is that it “follows the bad publicity surrounding social media, including the ‘trolling’ of MPs and others, especially those from religious or ethnic minorities.” It has also factored in recent concerns about the misuse of personal data and the “addictive nature of social media.”

Eddie Gershon from the firm told PRWeek that he’s “personally not a big fan” of Twitter. Perhaps October 2017’s events made a lasting negative impact; he was swift to act when a spoof Twitter account said the pub chain wouldn’t support the year’s poppy appeal.

Gershon added, “I don’t believe it will have any impact on PR for Wetherspoon.

“If we wish to get our message over we speak direct to reporters and if they then wish to add their story to Twitter, then fine by us.

“There are obviously millions of people that love Twitter… but personally I am not a big fan and it is clear that my client feels the same way.”

“Give me a 200-word story in The Sun or The Times any day over a tweet.”

JD Wetherspoons is planning strong PR via alternative routes

Wetherspoons chairman Tim Martin made a statement in which he acknowledged that they, “…are going against conventional wisdom that these platforms are a vital component of a successful business.

“I don’t believe that closing these accounts will affect our business whatsoever, and this is the overwhelming view of our pub managers…It’s becoming increasingly obvious that people spend too much time on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook, and struggle to control the compulsion.

“We will still be as vocal as ever through our Wetherspoon News magazine, as well as keeping the press updated at all times. We will also be maintaining our website and the Wetherspoon app and encourage customers to get in touch with us via our website or by speaking with the manager at their local pub.”

Interestingly, the Telegraph highlighted that Tim Martin cites social media in general as a challenge to the pub trade and that a quick look through their social media accounts proved that that they didn’t form a key part of the company’s strategy.

PR and marketing agency teams will look on with interest to see if the closure of social media accounts is impactful. For now, proven PR agency specialists are likely to combine social media with other outreach channels, shareable content including the highly effective brand storytelling, infographics, events and influencers.

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