This post was first posted as part of Nashville Business Journal’s Social Madness Campaign. To read more from Green Apple Strategy articles published by the Nashville Business Journal, click here.

The job of media relations professionals has always been to create a story or message around a brand. This is just one of the reasons I believe media relations professionals are truly the first social media experts, because essentially a brand’s social media success depends on their ability to tell a story.

However, many media relations pros haven’t taken full advantage of this tool. As a media relations and communications professional, I believe in the power of telling a story because that is how we get our brands on the front page. And I don’t mean “telling a story” in the sense of a child telling a fib. You must take your newsworthy topic and wordsmith a story pitch that convinces a journalist that, beyond a shadow of a doubt, their audience will read the article or watch the news coverage.

Here are a few ways that social media is changing the face of media relations:

Offers more tools to spread the message

Now we can connect directly with consumers to spread our message; we don’t have to rely on a billboard or a magazine article for customers to hear about what we are doing. We can reach just as many people with our message with Twitter. Please note: It is best to strategically align tools and tactics, not replace them. Social media pairs nicely with that great magazine article that you landed for your brand.

Creates a new set of influencers

Along the same lines, social media has also created a new set of influencers who can help spread the message of a brand. Take mommy bloggers, for instance. Before social media, if you had a product or service that targeted parents, you would pitch to such publications as Parent Magazine. Now we can have an even greater impact by pitching mommy bloggers who will help us spread the word.

Gives direct access to media

Because of social media, you don’t have to go through four different people and two hours on the phone to connect with a reporter or writer. You can just as easily reach out to them through Twitter. And even better, you can create a relationship with them and learn about what they like to write about.

The same goes for product endorsements from celebrities.

Provides a way to get messages out directly

When a PR crisis occurred before social media, brands/companies would have to wait until the evening news to get their statement out. Now through their own Twitter accounts, and those of the news media, the public can be made aware of a crisis, or possibly even the solution, almost immediately.

With social media, brands can provide a real-time response to any PR issues. This is something important to consider because the more people who are connecting with brands through social media, the more they are expecting brands to be proactive when it comes to solving a PR crisis instead of being silent.