Public Relations gets a bone as many PR professionals were the first in their companies to adopt social media. Much like email, PR pros saw this as a great way to distribute messages to a larger audience at a cost that was next to nothing. Social media became an instant hit in the PR circles for this reason. For a long time and even still, PR managed much of what happened in companies that was centered in social media. Now that social media is beginning to grow in importance within the enterprise many feel that social media should be controlled by marketing, CIO or controlled a bit by every department. However, at a lot of companies, the PR professional is the only one with social media experience.
Here’s the rub, social media practictioners do not believe that social channels are best used for “pushing” messages. Many marketers are trying to evolve to better “pull” messages from their audience and listen better. These same practictioners argue that Public Relations does not have a strong history of evolving if you look at how little the Press Release of today has evolved since it appeared over a hundred years ago. PR pros will argue they have started to evolve much of their work (and the forward thinking ones actually have IMO). Examples like the new press release, HARO and #soloPR and #PRChat (weekly twitter chats) are helping to advance the ball, but is it fast enough?
Social media is evolving quickly within companies right now. There are new advances almost daily and practitioners are trying to derive value across the board. A bit of the issue is the notion of value. Social media is too new to have a playbook or even a “right” way to do it and everyone has their own version of what value is. For marketers it’s brand messaging and conversion, for PR pros, its creating and distributing corporate messages. Therein lies the contention. From my experience working within Fortune class companies, I’m not sure that social belongs housed in PR for many reasons. I do, however believe there is value in PR having a social presence and I believe that value will continue to evolve for the better and could re-shape the entire industry as we know it today.
While marketing types whine for control, there is another issue. Many top marketers do not have any experience in social media. Some come out of the branding world, some the direct marketing side, others creative. None of that experience qualifies you for understanding and evolving in social media. What happens is you get marketers proclaming the best way to use social….who have never used social. If you don’t understand the medium then it is hard to be as innovative and creative as your customers are being with social. At that point, you lose relevance.
I think it’s well understood that relevance is key today. With customers, employees, partners and prospects you have to stay relevant. The question is who is most qualified to run your company’s social strategy? That is what we posed to Kellye Crane, an award winning, long admired PR professional. Kellye brings a wealth of experience and is one of those PR innovators who agreed to moderate this discussion for us. her perspective will be enlightening for sure. The topic this week and questions will be:
Title: Does Public Relations Get The “Message” in Social Media
Q1: Has PR become a dirty word in social media?
Q2: Is there a place for “messaging” on social networks?
Q3: Can a marketing exec have authority on social media topics without directly participating?
Please join us in this online chat on Tuesday, May 24 at noon ET. Follow #sm112 from your favorite Twitter client or simply go to our LIVE page at www.hashtagsocialmedia.com/live. The format will stay the same with the first question starting at noon and a new question coming every 20 minutes at 12:20 and 12:40.