The role of the social media in corporate PR practice using the Ukrainian context as a case study
The role of the social mediain corporate PR practiceusing the Ukrainian contextas a case studyResearch ResultsOctober, 2011
The world has changed and the dynamics of the PR profession havechanged with it. Organizations find themselves in an increasinglycomplex environment and most of them are worried about the needfor active engagement with the social media.One category of professionals were very fast to adopt the new toolsand started to engage with the social media really having a littleunderstanding of what and why they were doing. Others, moresceptical, decided they would wait to find a compelling argumentin favour of active involvement with the social media. Then there arethose who take a more balanced approach engaging progressively,implementing a few campaigns to get a feeling of what works andthen move on to a more strategic engagement plan.Increasingly, the world of communication is moving toward digitalchannels. With the proliferation of the social media, PR is once againat the centre of an organisation’s communication efforts, which alsocomes with a great responsibility.Keeping this in mind, this research will try to analyse how the socialmedia relates to PR, what challenges and opportunities it brings intoPR practice and how PR practitioners should react in order to do theirjob more effectively thus achieving overall business goals. Oksana Hoshva HOSHVA PR director UAPR Board Member
3/27Social media and PR:Ukrainian contextThe Ukrainian Public Relations Association report (2011) on thepractice of Public Relations in leading companies in Ukrainein 2010 reveals that there is a tendency toward a shift toonline and the social media, namely in terms of instrumentsused in PR practice. However, traditional media (press at 92%and web 1.0 sites at 83%) are perceived as main channelsof communication. Social media is rather new to Ukrainian PRpractitioners. Those professionals who already practice socialmedia PR choose to work with forum-based platforms orlaunch their company’s and brand profiles at social networks.Attention paid to online PR by Ukrainian practitioners can beexplained and supported by the findings of the TNS Ukraine’s‘Ukrainians in social networks’ report (2011) which revealed thefollowing: the use of traditional media used by the populationin Ukrainian cities has been consistently decreasing since2007 and is now estimated at 7 to 11%; penetration of theInternet has grown by 20% in the same time period while thetime of usage of various Internet services and sites as a mediaresource increased to up to 119 minutes per day.
4/27Social media and PR:Ukrainian contextAccording to the Internet Association of Ukraine report(2011) the number of Ukrainians aged 15 and olderwho use the Internet at least once a month has increasedto 35% compared to 33% at the end of 2010. The largestage group among the social network users are youngpeople ages 14 to 24 — at 36%.The Universal McCann Wave 5 report (2011) mentionsthe growing number of users in the social networks andservices among the recent trends which is attributedto increased mobility. The report also observes a shiftfrom official company websites and blogs to the pagesof companies in social networks where young peopleexpect to see their favourite brands on social networkingsites to learn more about the new offers on specificproducts and find out more about the brand in general.
The research 5/27· The aim of this research is to analyse how the social media relates to PR, what challenges and opportunities it brings into PR practice and how PR practitioners should react.· This research comprised 21 30-minute interviews with PR practitioners taking place between July 12 and 21, 2011.· Only PR professionals holding senior PR positions were interviewed.· Primary qualitative research was chosen as it was necessary to compile a rich data set to answer the questions of the ‘how’ and ‘why’ type in relation to the research topic.· The sample was build upon the list of top 200 advertisers for 2010 provided by GfK Ukraine. The companies were further segmented into industries they represent, taking into account their origins — purely Ukrainian or foreign-owned.· The following industries and companies were selected for in-depth research: FMCG (Obolon, SABMiller Ukraine, Unilever Ukraine, The Coca-Cola Ukraine, Ltd, Procter&Gamble Ukraine), retail (Comfy, Foxtrot, Metro Cash&Carry Ukraine, McDonalds Ukraine), consumer electronics (Samsung Electronics Ukraine, Philips Ukraine, LG Electonics Ukraine), telecommunications (Kyivstar GSM, Astelit, MTS Ukraine), pharmacology (Sanofi-Aventis Ukraine LLC, GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceuticals Ukraine), finance (Erste Bank Ukraine, Raiffeisen Bank Aval, VTB Bank) and IT (Microsoft Ukraine).
The research 6/27· Personal in-depth interviews were selected as a primary research tool. A personal interview approach was taken in order to develop a dialogue between the interviewer and the respondent, creating opportunities to extract as much information as possible.· Most of the interviews were conducted face-to-face and one interview was taken through Google Talk. To gain a better perspective and to allow for a more detailed insight, interviews were conducted in such a way as to explore the reasons behind using the social media for communication purposes and to obtain communication professionals’ thoughts on the impact of the social media on PR practice in general.· The questionnaire included 14 open-ended questions. Areas for questioning were split into two categories, each designed to support the interviewer in extracting different levels of information and to simplify the analysis, one related to the use of the social media in PR practice and second – to the impact of the social media on PR practice.· The research was conducted as a part of CIPR Diploma in Public Relations study program.
7/27 Findings >· How professionals perceive social media and relate it to PR· How the use of the social media has been evolving among Ukrainian companies· Social media — both challenge and an opportunity PR· Social media opportunities for PR practice· Challenges for PR created by the social media
Findings > Howrelate it to PR perceive social media and professionals 8/27 Most PR managers perceive the social media in two ways: → Firstly, as an environment that changes the world. → Secondly, as a set of tools. PR practitioners believe that it is not wise to ignore this new environment, even if they still should not really understand what to do with it or might not have necessary resources to fully engage with the new medium. “ I think that PR is a kind of a mirror of the level of the social development. If a certain phenomenon is developing in a society – it affects PR practice directly. No matter what this phenomenon is. For example social media, digital television, the democratisation of society. You can call it ‘fashion’ or something else. But society is evolving towards digital dissemination of information, so it’s inevitable that it will be a part of our job. We constantly monitor the social media for developing social processes in the world, Europe and Ukraine; we analyse those, and take time to develop ” our strategy of reputation management in response to those evolving issues. Janna Revnova, Head of Corporate Affairs ‘Kyivstar GSM’
Findings > Howrelate it to PR perceive social media and professionals 9/27 In general, to communicate effectively in the social media PR function within the companies should be strategic; management and colleagues need to be open to advice and PR managers should have direct access to the top management in order to form a working relationship between departments and functions within the company. “ Many professionals themselves do not understand the value of the social media, saying that ‘my publics are not there’ or that ‘I have no time for it’ and if they themselves do not understand the value of the social media, then ‘selling’ the idea to the senior ” management becomes unrealistic under such circumstances. Yaryna Klyuchkovska, PR, Citizenship, and Community Affairs Director ‘Microsoft Ukraine’ “ At the moment, the value that PR function creates for the company already justifies the need for presence ” in the social media as opposed to the other way around. Yaryna Lukan, Head of Communication Department ‘Erste Bank Ukraine’
Findings > How hasamong Ukrainian companies? evolving the use of the social media been 10/27 · Respondents in their majority note that the social media is an interesting, but not a priority activity for them, yet it is seen as promising. · The level of the social media engagement can be characterised as ‘progressive involvement’ and ‘organic growth’. · Companies are gradually trying out different tools and platforms and are beginning to develop the social media engagement strategies. · Many started to realise that they do not have sufficient internal resources for consistent involvement with the social media, or that something they had tried before did not work and now they are at a stage when they analyse why this happened. · Many start their social media presence as a part of the crisis communications process or reputation risks situation management which arises, for example, as a result of the negative brand mentions in search engine results.
Findings > How hasamong Ukrainian companies? evolving the use of the social media been 11/27 “ I would say we are getting more mature in social media by having a dialogue with our fans. Now we understand better what our fans need and start thinking about the conversion of our fans to our consumers. In other words we’re moving from infotainment and having fun together to being useful. Here comes more personal ” approach with main focus on the quality of communication. Olga Royenko, Communications Officer ‘COMFY’ “ In Ukraine, we are really making first steps. For us this is a continuous process — organic growth. The more the need ” for our presence will be felt, the more we will be integrated. Inna Derkach, Reputation Strategy/Corporate Consumer PR Lead for North Africa, Middle East, Turkey, Russia, Ukraine, Belarus, ‘Uniliver’
Findings > How hasamong Ukrainian companies? evolving the use of the social media been 12/27 · The main focus of the social media currently lies in product PR and consumer engagement. · For many, involvement in the social media is more about listening and generating minimal response, and not so much about proactive work mostly due to the main challenges which are identified as lack of resources and lack of understanding of how to integrate this new medium into the company’s processes and connect it to the company’s overall business goals. · Many companies are launching their social media presence with great caution, afraid of the prospects of negative comments or a multitude of questions that might go unanswered due to lack of in-house resources.
Findings > How hasamong Ukrainian companies? evolving the use of the social media been 13/27 “ We do a lot, but probably a little slower than I would want to, but it is okay for a big brand like Coca-Cola. Moreover, I do not think that Ukraine ” is ready for active massive consumer engagement through social media. Olesya Zhulynska, PA&C Manager ‘ The Coca-Cola Ukraine, Ltd. “ In social networks one should be very careful; we started out with support of charity campaign and created ‘McHappy Day’ Facebook page. In other words we started our presence from the projects that has minimum risks for negative perception. After we felt more confident and looking back at our previous successes, ” we launched official social media page for McDonald’s in Ukraine. Mikhail Shuranov, Communications director ‘ McDonald’s Ukraine’
Findings > Social media — bothfor PR and an opportunity challenge 14/27 The fact that the social media are being perceived as a great opportunity is balanced by the numerous negative references about companies and brands generated through this medium. Negative comments are always a challenge, but the company gets a unique chance to convert those into an opportunity. “ I recall a consumer who had left a very negative feedback on the Facebook wall about beer of an inappropriate quality he had purchased which left him very disappointed. Representatives of the company immideately followed up with the person, clarified the issue, and having investigated and identified the cause of the problem, reimbursed the customer with a case of beer. The consumer was struck by such ” attention and left a highly positive comment about his experience. Marksym Kushnir, Deputy Corporate Communication Marketing Director ‘Obolon’
Findings > Social media — bothfor PR and an opportunity challenge 15/27 “ McDrive reconstruction in one district of Kyiv resulted in problematic passage to the subway for the local community while was done according to permissions from local authorities.. One of the district’s inhabitants posted on his blog that there is an issue with the reconstruction describing how it is causing problems for pedestrians. The company responded immediately. We had number of meeting with local community to investigate situation and finally came with changes to the McDrive design. Residents very satisfied that the company heard them and was willing to make an additional $20,000 investment as was detailed in the subsequent posts in the blogosphere. As a result, McDonalds converted ” its critics to active brand ambassadors. Mikhail Shuranov, Communications director ‘McDonald’s Ukraine’
Findings > Social media opportunities for PR practice 16/27 Practitioners mentioned the following opportunities for PR that are being created through the use of the social media: · Receiving quick feedback on the communication from the company; being able to assess what kind of content you would need and which content would interest your audiences. · Social media as a source of information, a tool for environment analysis and for identifying the issues; understanding what people are saying and what issues worry them, which allows to make subsequent business decisions. · Improving services or products through reviews and recommendations of social media users. · Distribution of content that is ‘not appropriate’ for traditional media outlets — the types of information very rarely picked up the mass media (CSR news, various educational materials). · Rapid dissemination of information, especially in the situation of crisis communication. · Targeted communication to different publics, as compared to mass communication. · Ability to build trusting relationships. · ‘Easier’ process of communication — no need to create sites or incur development costs.
Findings > Social media opportunities for PR practice 17/27 Distribution of content that is ‘not appropriate’ for traditional media outlets. Practitioners mention that they have a lot of content that due to different reasons cannot be shared with publics through the traditional media. In the west ‘positive’ company news are not immediately discarded by the media, unlike in Ukraine. “ CSR projects in Ukraine do not have adequate coverage in the media as such information is considered ‘commercial’. Therefore, companies are looking for alternative platforms to communication about their ” CSR initiatives and the social media platform offers a perfect match. Nadiya Lubnina, Head of Corporate Communications ‘ Metro Cash&Carry Ukraine’
Findings > Social media opportunities for PR practice 18/27 “ The ‘Touch of Hope’ project was a great success with the users of the social media. Social media provide an opportunity for building trusting relationships. It is an invaluable channel of communication with consumers on in their territory. Social networks have allowed professionals to get to where the consumer ‘lives’, where they ” communicate with each other, and this is seen as a big advantage. Oksana Bakalenko, PR manager ‘Foxtrot’ “ This year we began to actively involve social media for social projects when we had the ‘Donor Day’ project. We had various activities on our Facebook and Twitter pages during blood collection drive. 30% of all the people who we managed to involve in the project came from the social media and ” that’s taking into account that we had both radio and print advertising. Kateryna Popova, PR manager ‘ LG Electonics Ukraine’
Findings > Challenges for PR created by the social media 19/27 Practitioners mentioned the following challenges for PR that are being created through the use of the social media: · Lack of human resources due to the need to provide fast response, create interesting content, engage in conversations individually because each person has their own questions and specific concerns to which they expect individual answers. · Listening to conversations is not such a simple task: software is not perfect and can give a distorted picture; difficult to prioritise and evaluate the importance of comments, a lot of noise. In addition, many PR managers simply do not know how to listen since they are not used to doing so.
Findings > Challenges for PR created by the social media 20/27 · Lack of understanding of how to integrate the social media into the company’s processes and PR managers appear to be unanimous about this. Every company is different and should look for a format that will work best for them. · The issue of the role of PR function considering the fact that various company departments should be involved in the process of managing the social media. · No understanding of the long-term implications – many are actively involved in the beginning, but no one appears to be able to predict what will happen in a few years’ time. · Difficult to relate to business results. · Audience coverage is not great, not all stakeholder groups are present. · Information spreads faster which creates challenges in times of crisis. · No means of control since the information is created by users and does not depend on the company’s communication plan. · Negative information coming from the public is predominant compared to positive or constructive, which creates a risk of transforming the social media presence into a ‘book of complaints’.
Findings > Challenges for PR created by the social media 21/27 Lack of human resources The majority of PR specialists noted that work in the social media puts a great strain on human resources — and not only in terms of time of PR specialists, marketing managers or customer service staff. After all, when a company creates its presence in the social media, communication goes beyond the realm of the PR department. “ People might be interested to communicate with a technical specialist in charge of creating products, a store manager; in other words people are interested in talking to specific specialists in an certain area of expertis; it is not easy for companies to involve their employees in content generation and interaction, since this creates an additional workload beyond their professional responsibilities. Nadiya Lubnina, Head of Corporate Communications ‘ Metro Cash&Carry Ukraine’ ” “ Initially, PR department would take on every social media activity in the company, but now we are responsible only for key strategic initiatives, like the corporate blog delegating responsibilities of product promotion ” and customer communication activities to the marketing department. Oksana Rudyuk, Head of External and Corporate Relations ‘Astelit’
Findings > Challenges for PR created by the social media 22/27 Lack of understanding of how to integrate the social media into the company’s processes Many companies already experimented with the social media and seek to understand how such activities should be integrated into communication of the company. “ PR cannot stand ‘above’ this process. PR is not self-sufficient in the company; PR does not approve all decisions; PR does not generate all the information. PR can be the mediator the driver of this process, but others still need to be involved’. It’s like saying that handling incoming calls is only the receptionist’s responsibility — company receptionist only picks up the phone to direct the call and it is different company departments that get involved in dialogue. Microsoft Ukraine now established a working group for company social media activities to which ” representatives of various company departments are being invited and appointed. Yaryna Klyuchkovska, PR, Citizenship, and Community Affairs Director ‘Microsoft Ukraine’ “ I am convinced that PR should still oversee the process. In the end of the day, it passes through the funnel of one department – PR, as it should be; if many departments start communicating different issues through different messages and in different styles, it becomes unprofessional. Olesya Zhulynska, PA&C Manager ‘ The Coca-Cola Ukraine, Ltd.’ ”
Findings > Challenges for PR created by the social media 23/27 Difficult to relate to business results PR managers note that it would be easier to allocate additional investment and human resources for a more active social media involvement provided such actions could be proven to directly influence the company’s business performance. PR managers say they now operate with a term that there is ‘an intuitive feeling’, that there is progress, or even a breakthrough. Some experts believe that this challenge can be neutralized through regular reputation audits, which should include blocks of questions about the social media.
Findings > Challenges for PR created by the social media 24/27 “ Last year we implemented a project in the social media, counted impressions, which were half a million; but the real challenge is that we could not calculate how these impressions impact the company’s ” financial performance – and I think this is a problem for social media. Marksym Kushnir, Deputy Corporate Communication Marketing Director ‘Obolon’ “ The key question is whether it affects how the company achieves business results in the end, and if it does — then it is of high priority. Any company function operates ” to fulfil a business strategy within its scope of activities. Zhanna Revnova, Head of Corporate Affairs ‘Kyivstar GSM’
25/27 Conclusions· Tactical short-term campaigns are gradually being replaced with strategic approaches to social media involvement.· Since the social media PR is a rather young topic, there still is not enough knowledge, understanding and experience on how to build long-term social media engagement initiatives.· Internet penetration and social media coverage will increase; people will continue to ask more questions and will create more content on topics that are important to them and now PR managers have to understand how this will work in the future and plan for necessary resources, keeping in mind the fact that this investment still needs to be directly related to the overall achievement of the business objectives in the companies they represent.· Today we hear phrases like ‘Let’s tell the company story’, when PR professionals need to learn to listen more. Listening and analysing the insights they get from the social media is essential in order to build lasting relationships with the publics that are based on trust.· The online environment has opened up great potential for communication research, as it is a great depository of the various interactions taking place in the form of blog posts and responses to those which offer a great resource for study and analysis.
26/27Agency in briefHOSHVA PR agency was founded in 2005 andis one of the top PR agencies on the Ukrainian market.Today HOSHVA PR has the largest Digital PR Practiceamong PR agencies in Ukraine.Digital agency team is the winner of PRAVDA Awards2010 with projects ‘HTC Android Developers Contest’and ‘HiPP Organic World’ and PRAVDA Awards 2011with ‘Watsons Ukraine Facebook Community’.HOSHVA PR successfully launched Peugeot Facebook presence(No 1 in ‘Auto’ category for the period 1.09 — 31.12.2010)and Watsons Ukraine (№6 among all pages in UkrainianFacebook by Advermap rating as for September 2011).
Contact:Oksana Hoshvadirector+38 050 384 71 78 firstname.lastname@example.org://www.facebook.com/hoshvahttp://ua.linkedin.com/in/oksanahoshva graphic design for business email@example.com