By Leigh Buglass – Account Coordinator @ Flourish.

No matter what industry you work in, technology is a key factor in the implementation of change. That rings true in PR, the industry has drastically changed over the last 10 years due to the ever-growing digital world, even in the last 2 years that I have worked in PR, there has been more and more influence through digital over traditional media.

The likes of Facebook, Instagram, Blogs and YouTube are now their own media platforms, their users are broadcasters, their content is seen by millions of people every day, and their opinions are influential to their followers. This enables the public to have more control over the reputation and messages that are shared about a business.

The role of a PR professional is arguably much more significant than it was before the digital world became relevant as it is now our job to steer the online conversation in a way that is beneficial to the client.

This can be a tricky task when there are millions of online users and one post can be shared thousands of times in a very small time frame.

The biggest game changer for the PR world is the now active audience. People react instantaneously and news can go viral within mere minutes. As a PR professional, checking Facebook and Twitter is the first thing I do in the morning, as I know that if there is breaking news it will fill my newsfeed – then I go to more reputable news sites to find out the details; you can’t believe everything you read on social media.

Social media and online news sites are where the majority of people read the news. We live in a busy world, where it’s easier to read the news on your phone on your commute to work, rather than sitting down when you get to work and flicking through the paper or tuning into the news on the TV or radio. The digital world also gives you a constant update on what’s happening, it means you can know the latest details without waiting for the next TV/radio news bulletin, or waiting for tomorrow’s newspaper.

As a PR professional, I absolutely love the digital world, it creates so many more coverage opportunities that can be shared far and wide.

However, sometimes the digital world, in particular social media, creates some blurred lines for PR professionals. If you are managing social accounts for clients and responding to queries, where do you draw the line between PR/Social Media and Customer Service? Before Social Media, if a customer had a query on the back of a piece of coverage they saw, they would call the customer service line and have their query answered. Now the main way people tend to voice their queries and opinions, particularly the negative ones, is through social media channels, which often comes direct to a PR/Social Media Manager, rather than the traditional Customer Service Officer. But as PR pros we know how to adapt to any situation, we are in the game of communications and we know the best way to respond to any circumstances.

The digital world, as it continues to grow and develop, is such an exciting space for the world of PR. Over the years there are going to be more and more opportunities for online coverage, and I can’t wait to see how the next 10 years change in the digital world.