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The Key to Strategic Success: TikTok

Every couple of years, a new app or technology takes the world by storm, and we begin to question how we were able to live before its existence. This is the case with TikTok, a short-form video app that uses a strategic algorithm to keep users scrolling through an endless stream of short videos.

TikTok began its rise during the first lockdown of the COVID-19 pandemic in the spring of 2020. Spring forward to the current day, and TikTok is the most downloaded app of the year. TikTok has revolutionized social media because of its long shelf life, allowing videos to recirculate and go viral, regardless of how long ago they were posted. TikTok stands apart from other social media apps because users do not have to follow accounts to see their content. This characteristic makes the platform a PR professional's dream come true.

TikTok is a great tool for PR professionals to reach their target audiences and assist in campaign implementation and brand building.“TikTok exists to create value for users and brands,” said Alexa Mokalis, an advertising and social media Lecturer at San Diego State University. “It delivers to a big audience and delivers a huge engagement rate. Any brand or PR professional who is not incorporating TikTok into their strategic approach is missing the mark,”

Mokalis also expressed that TikTok is unique in its authentic and unpolished approach to content. “Let it be a platform where you can let your guard down a bit more. Sure, it should still fit in with your overall brand strategy, brand ethos, and overall brand aesthetic, but allow it to be an opportunity to show off that brand personality.”

TikTok is known for its authentic and relatable content and serves as an opportunity for brands to showcase their unique personality. “It is important that brands develop their unique persona on TikTok in addition to using PR efforts to tell their story,” said Katherine Randall, President, and owner of Katalyst PR, a public relations agency in San Diego.

TikTok is a useful platform to reach a younger audience. The average TikTok user is between the age of 18 and 24, so it is a great way to engage younger audiences. However, the whole world has adopted TikTok. Mainstream media outlets like the New York Times and The Washington Post use TikTok to deliver news, and companies like Chipotle, the NFL, and the NBA make creative use of TikTok for their brand strategy.

Randall notes that PR professionals should use TikTok as a tool to raise awareness. As a result, she encourages organizations to include links to TikTok videos in their press features. “Driving traffic from an article to a brand's TikTok account is a great way to not only expand brand awareness but continue building a strong relationship with a consumer,” said Randall. Given the importance of TikTok, Randall is currently asking all of her clients to have a TikTok account as a way to strengthen their online presence and simultaneously build a relationship with consumers.

PR professionals must always stay current with new technologies and trends. Traditionally, practitioners used legacy media outlets to communicate with their audiences, but now audiences have shifted to engage with video content. Now more than ever, it is crucial that PR professionals utilize TikTok, and other video platforms, to stay relevant and relatable to the public. TikTok allows PR professionals the freedom to show a more candid side of the brand and is especially useful in engaging younger audiences. Who knew the key to success came in the form of a 30-second video?

By Ashley Frenchman

Ashley is a junior public relations student at San Diego State University with a passion for current events reporting.

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