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From left: PRNewser co-editor Joe Ciarallo, Attention! PR’s Colin Nagy, MS&L’s David Binkowski, and Wired.com’s John Abell discuss how social media tools influence public relations at last night’s mediabistro.com panel.

Public relations experts described how to maximize digital tools to boost business for their clients and for their firms last night at mediabistro.com’s “Social Media Essentials for PR” panel event at Tribeca Cinemas. PRNewser co-editors Joe Ciarallo and Jason Chupick moderated the talk, which featured Attention!PR partner Colin Nagy, Wired.com’s New York bureau chief John Abell, MS&L Digital’s “vice president of word-of-mouth” David Binkowski. The tech-savvy audience that filled the house was a-Twitter as panelists described throwing out traditional PR moves for more competitive and immediate tactics that had them reaching out to online communities, instead.

According to Nagy, the Web isn’t just a swarm of random users. “There’s a niche for everything, and there’s an authoritative voice in that niche,” he said, advising his PR peers to “understand the sensibility of the community, and show them that you have something compelling to share with them.”

The panelists agreed that effective online outreach can involve Web communities as varied as eBay, Craigslist, and even under-the-radar spots such as beauty site MakeupAlley. “We talk to people on a granular level,” said Binkowski, describing social media campaigns that fused market research, PR, and advertising. “If you do the word-of-mouth thing right, you’re making the pitch easier [for journalists to pick up],” he said.

The discussion proved that when it comes to social media and public relations, it’s no longer just about Facebook and Twitter, as social media continues providing new mechanisms and tools to work with. As Abell put it, “You’ve always had to be nimble, but now you’re able to be nimble.”

We’ve got video from the event, and Attention! PR colleague’s take on Keith O’Brien‘s switch from journalism to PR, after the jump…

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