Twitter has become a vital PR tool that I use daily here at Milk & Honey PR. The ‘trends’ column listing popular hashtags helps me keep an eye on what big stories are being widely covered by the media.

Monitoring what is trending on Twitter can help determine if a story we plan to sell-in that day would be worth it, or if it would be overshadowed by a bigger piece of news. For instance, as a nation we are currently knee deep in the Tory leadership competition with daily expulsions dominating the news agenda and front pages of the nationals. I have even witnessed journalists tweeting to say if PR’s are sending stories that aren’t related to Brexit, then they are simply wasting their time.

The voice of the nation

Social media can reflect the mood of the nation. It gives us PRs a vibe on how people feel towards a certain person, product or idea. This month, the new series of Love Island has started and #LoveIsland becomes number one on trending at 9.00pm each week night with viewers tweeting their reactions on the contestant’s behaviours.

Brands are quick to catch on to social trends. We can all remember Oreos huge success of its ‘you can still dunk in the dark’ PR campaign during the 2013 Super Bowl when a power outage hit the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The tweet, which was created with the help of agency 360i, quickly went viral, amassing thousands of likes and retweets from a simple stunt.

Journalists Vs PR’s

There are now six PR people to every journalist, according to Bloomberg. It is safe say their inboxes are consistently clogged because we are all fighting for the same space. Journalists therefore love to voice their PR complaints on Twitter – especially when they have received an awful press release that is unrelated to their news beat. It is also a great way to keep an eye out for PR errors, understand how journalists prefer to be pitched to and learn what not to pitch to them. Or you can expect to be called out for it!

Social storm

It’s not just journalists who love to voice complaints. So do us Brits – especially towards brands! Brands have hired social media support teams to react to comments and tweets on lost orders, wrong tickets or poor customer service.

Twitter can also be a tool to determine when a PR crisis is about to erupt. Recently, Mexican restaurant chain Wahaca became caught up in a Twitter storm on its employees’ wages. Sarah Hayward, former Labour MP, tweeted to Wahaca about her recent experience at the Kentish Town chain. She noticed the people next to her left without paying and their server was made to cover the bill with his wages. This is apparently part of Wahaca’s policy.

The tweet had gone viral and other people started coming forward naming and shaming other restaurants that have a similar policy. Wahaca did not respond until the following morning (eek), by then it was on the BBC’s ‘most read’ section. To make matters worse, a former Wahaca employee posted images of a handbook which confirmed waiting staff would be ‘liable to pay the full bill, including service charge if a customer leaves without paying’. Wahaca co-founder Mark Selby blamed the problem on an ‘internal communications issue’.

It’s what’s happening

Twitter’s infamous tagline ‘it’s what’s happening’ and ability to showcase breaking news across the globe has meant that it has become today’s biggest newsroom. Journalists are turning to social media to create stories. Savvy PR’s who monitor Twitter on topics of business interest can jump into conversations, contribute their expertise and ensure they are ahead of the game.