The impact of social media on entertainment public relations

The advent of social media, especially Twitter, has forever changed entertainment public relations according to Tuesday’s panel of industry professionals.

Paul Osbon, manager of Austin indie-rock band Quiet Company, shared how he uses Twitter to not only promote, but interact with fans as well. Osbon also said that using the social media network has provided the band with several unique networking opportunities.

“Ninety-five percent of our opportunities in the last few years have come through Twitter,” said Osbon. “Twitter is really important. It gives you the opportunity to connect with people you’ll never get to meet in real life.”

When Osbon began managing the band in 2007, social media was the perfect answer to marketing a then-unknown band on a budget. Osbon has shied away from using traditional promotion methods.

“When we started using Twitter, that’s when we started getting fans,” said Osbon. “Now we can pull three to four-hundred people per show, not just the same twenty-five friends.”

Elaine Garza is challenged with providing the voice for several different clients on Twitter in her role as owner of Giant Noise, a public relations firm with operations in Austin and New York. Garza stresses the importance of injecting personality into your tweets.

“If you’re just pushing stuff out, it isn’t that interesting,” said Garza.

The panel also discussed the importance of blogging in public relations, as well as how unimportant it can sometimes be.

Rebecca Feferman, who handles press and publicity for South by Southwest (SXSW) Film Festival, pointed to the hype in the online community surrounding the film Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, which ultimately opened to dismal ticket sales.

“Nobody knows how important the online world is,” said Feferman. “It can be everything or nothing.”

During the question and answer portion of the discussion, the panel was faced with the issue of the impact of music and film piracy on the entertainment industry.

Brett Cannon, owner of Paperthin Media, said that record labels are willing to give away more albums and tracks for free with the decline in physical sales. Labels will now give you free music if you provide your e-mail address so that they can have continued access to you.

“Digital marketing is huge right now,” said Cannon. “Reporters don’t want physical CDs anymore. It makes my job easier, it’s cheaper and it’s greener.”

The panel unanimously urged students to not get too comfortable when using social media. Although networks like Facebook and Twitter have an informal atmosphere, it is important to remain professional in your work and avoid lazy mistakes.

“You have to be able to write,” said Garza. “Everyone should know how to copy edit. You can’t send anything out with errors because no one will look at it.”

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