I, PR take thee, Social Media to be my wedded companion.
I recently got a job with a company I’d classify as a marketing communications practice and what’s been interesting so far, is noticing just how much of the company’s communications tactics are based upon online strategies. I can’t say I’m surprised though, that when it comes to re-branding, garnering publicity and overall just addressing publics that the Internet plays such an important role in delivering messages.
My boss said it best when she spoke about how it isn’t just marketing that’s married to online medium, but rather it’s the entire business model that’s turned to the Internet for such comfort and a sense of belonging.
So, where does PR fit into all of this? As we know it, PR is people-based and relationship-driven and it hardly seems like these connections can be made through a web portal. My avid readers (if even!), know where I stand on the notion of relationships and online “socializing,” but I wonder, if PR is just another business strategy, could it also benefit in the same way marketing does?
Well, short answer.
I definitely think it can.
I think that in a world that’s progressed and continues to do so, so quickly technologically, PR professionals would be foolish not to utilize the power of the Internet to open up the communications channels. Social media can be their best tool to do this.
Earlier this week in class we looked at the example of Zappos.com where employees are accessible through Twitter. To me, this gives the brand a face, a way to personalize it so that consumers are not only buying into shoes, they’re buying into the people.
My thing is, if they can do it, so can we. We being the PR-pros or in my case, the aspiring pro.
“Public Relations has changed forever. The advent of the Internet changed the way journalists research and found stories. In the old days, a story grew legs only after the papers were published. Today, a story can grow legs in minutes through viral sharing, social media, blogging etc.”- XT+M
We have the capacity to reach an audience without borders. No longer are we confined to our desks or the people around us. A news release about famous Torontonian cheese can reach an audience in Calcutta. Instantly, we have global awareness about a hunka-chedda at the corner of Yonge and Sheppard (don’t quote me on this).
Still, there is much debate about whether or not social media is, as I have said, advantageous for PR. Many professionals in fact believe that social media is the very thing killing PR. That such a marriage shouldn’t even be legal. High-tech aficionado Kara Swisher address this in her blog post, “Is Social Media Killing Pr? (Or Maybe Vice Versa?)”. She sheds some light about a panel she attended on the topic.
Swisher says it was a “good discussion to a packed audience about what the implications of social media are for the PR business-essentially, fewer press releases and more Twitters!”
There it is. Ugh. The “T” word. I don’t quite understand the pleasure one gets from being Tweeted, but its undeniable that Twitter is the new Facebook, changing the way we interact with each other. Not that I care to know what my classmates are doing every second of the day, but it is interesting to see what fellow industry heavyweights are Tweeting about and how they are utilizing the power of the 30-second rule to get attention. My bad, it’s probably 15-seconds in this case.
Christine Perkett of PerkettPR in San Francisco clears up the hype about Twitter quite nicely and how it’s been integrated into her firm:
“…having been on Twitter for about two years now, we have learned many valuable lessons that other agencies are just beginning to read about. In addition, every PerkettPR team member is required to be part of the conversations happening in social mediums and each is consistently well trained on best practices across all these mediums, to ensure we put our best foot forward – for our firm and our clients – on all fronts.”
But as we know, Twitter, or any other social media platform for that matter is not for everyone. In my experience, however novice it may be, I know enough to know that not all PR campaigns are suited to online media. Sometimes a grassroots approach is the way to go.
That being said, I think there is no real answer to the question of whether or not social media belongs in the hands of PR people. It’s a hype that we must recognize, but not a trend that we can all follow. Like skinny jeans.