In the past, PR professionals were slow to adopt new techniques – from new ways to pitch journalists to press release styles. We were, and still are to an extent, resistant to change. We’d better be ready to not only float, but sail forward as communications leaders, especially with the immense changes in technology occurring.
Although we once distanced ourselves from new trends and techniques, we made sure to not make that mistake with the advent and development of Social Media. I can recall at the 2007 PRSA International Conference in Salt Lake City a fervent effort to take on the challenges and opportunities Social Media could provide PR pros.
Michael Cherenson, APR, executive vice president of Success Communications Group and PRSA chair, discussed how PR pros should use Social Media and how it can be a powerful communications tool in the following video:
Taking ownership of Social Media
Since the conference, PR has been on the forefront of the Social Media wave – taking ownership of that medium. Rebecca Lieb, vice president of Econsultancy said in a blog post on the Comprehension PR blog:
A huge component of the participatory Internet is seeding information: stories, content and news, and helping to foster dissemination… Search engine optimization is a form of public relations… Social media is marketing, not advertising.
Lieb’s comments are on point. We do, in fact, have more than a stake in Social Media – we have to make it a main PR function and shout it from the rooftops. We’ll always be in a constant battle with other professions, like advertising and marketing, to be in control of the Social Media realm.
An example of the steps PR people have taken to be leaders in this medium and keep up with the times can be seen through the accumulation of huge followings on various Social Media platforms. Tom Foremski, a writer, journalist and blogger for Silicon Valley Watcher, stated in a recent blog post:
Since PR people are much more comfortable with self-promotion, many have acquired large traffic to their blogs and also amassed large numbers on their Twitter and Facebook accounts.
Keeping it integrated
It is equally important to recognize the role advertising and marketing play in Social Media. Without their guidance, public relations professionals cannot create a fully integrated campaign. Their involvement is an important component in driving messaging and the brand out to identified target publics.
Advertisers and marketers have a unique perspective that sometimes PR pros don’t have. Even though PR people understand various communications aspects, we should also understand that others know more about their respective professions that us. We need to work with others with different skill sets and be open to their comments and recommendations. This will allow all of us in PR to ensure a more holistic Social Media campaign is achieved.
So… are PR pros keeping up with the times?
We’ve certainly learned our lesson when it comes to making sure we’re ahead of the curve on industry trends and techniques. But maybe we went overboard in our effort to take ownership of Social Media. I would put money down that some of the most addicted Social Media users are PR professionals (This is without any real empirical evidence).
We need to find a happy medium between Social Media overuse and not using it at all. What this tells me is that our profession has made it a point to be on the forefront of this ever-evolving media landscape, truly keeping up with the times.