For Social Media & PR – Integration Is Key…For Projects & Employees

Posted: June 29, 2009 in Advertising/Marketing, Business, PR, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter
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Last Week, David Mullin Posted a Great Article “We’re Setting Up Young PR Pros for Failure.”

Today, Meg Roberts Posted a Follow Up Piece “Are We Forcing Social Media Tunnel Vision on Young PR Pros?”

In it, she wonders”

“are young PR professionals being set up for failure because they aren’t being given enough opportunities to investigate and learn traditional tactics and strategies?

As companies continue to look at younger staff members for social media expertise, senior employees, recent graduates, and interns should work together to ensure young professionals have well-rounded task lists that include a variety of skills necessary for communication campaigns – both online and offline.”

I think she’s really hit the nail on the head. I’ve heard many stories, including my own, of young PR pros who have become the de facto social media experts at their firms, purely predicated on age.

Personally, I’ve embraced this role, as I’m passionate about social media and I do have a background in traditional PR as well, so I don’t feel as if I’m missing out on crucial work experience (yet). But this isn’t usually the case and I fear that she is correct – people in our generation are almost obligated to focus on social media, precluding them the necessary experience of traditional PR and media relations.

Not only that, but despite the popularity of social media and digital campaign, the actual ROI of social media is still very much disputed, and if things continue to move in this direction, we may very well be setting ourselves up, not just for failure, but for lesser value in the workforce.

I think this is indicative of a larger problem as well – the idea that social media campaigns are inherently, or should be, independent entities, intentionally disparate from traditional media endeavors. This is a MAJOR problem IMHO. I won’t knock Social Media, I can’t seeing as it’s probably my future and is my passion. However, even the best social/digital strategy must be integrated into a larger PR or Marketing approach. SM on it’s own can only do so much and go so far. Traditional marketing & PR tactics must be used in congruence with an online approach in order to capitalize on any successful social engagement on behalf of the brand or company.

These problems are intertwined. Social Media isn’t something that one person should be tasked with, nor is it a campaign in and of itself. A firm, properly employing social/digital strategy, would do so by training all employees to complement their traditional PR/Marketing with the added benefits of social media outreach…something that many are hesitant to accept.

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  1. I could not agree more… with all three of said posts… about time someone said it, take heed younguns and PR whippersnappers… for the collective good, if not for your own.

    I’ve noticed some, not all, of this in my own agency, and think it’s a warped combination of fear from the traditionalists (let someone else take the plunge, the reward… or the failure) as well as the over-hype and too much devout attention from ‘the next generation’ (it’s fun, it’s work, it’s a godsend… or is it?). That can only be solved if both sides flip the roles, by way of teaching or learning the newly added resource of PR.

    The key today, for me at least (as a PR practitioner of Corp. comm.. and media relations for fortune 500 clients), is not OFFline or ONline communications, it’s about INline communications (syncing and streamlining the message across ALL available channels). Plus, let’s be frank, social media alone wont make a PR campaign, ever… well done all, thanks for discussing!

  2. Keith Trivitt says:

    David –

    You make some great points in here. I, too, and pretty much in the same boat as you are in regards to being labeled the “social media” guru where I work. While that is great, and I certainly embrace that pseudo title and take some pride in it, I am also very cognizant, that we still live in a world where many clients and organizations still expect the massive print and online publication hits that typically come from traditional PR methods. That said, I think you are really correct with your assertion that it’s all about integration, something I think you see many, like you and me, advocating online a lot, but you have yet to see many firms take this stance.

    Unfortunately, far too many firms (and clients/organizations) still view social media/digital media as this “star in the sky” effort that requires they set up completely separate departments and titles for. That’s really not how it needs to or should work, though. Everyone in a firm, down to interns, should have basic knowledge of how to best integrate SM with traditional PR practices in order to achieve the best results for clients. This is what I’m truly passionate about: how do we integrate these two great methods of generating publicity and make them work cohesively and in a manner that generates great results and ROI.

    One point I disagree with you on, though, is that you can’t get measurable ROI solely through social media. I think Todd Defren at SHIFT Communications mentioned a couple of weeks ago that he has begun work with major brands and clients that have said no more to traditional PR plans and have asked only for social media work on their campaigns. I believe that with the right strategies and the right brands (see Dell’s revenue from Twitter in Q1), we will eventually start to see more brands and clients achieving ROI and asking for services via SM.


  3. Keith Trivitt says:

    Another point I wanted to make was that we have to be really careful that we don’t get ourselves into a situation in which anyone and everyone in our company/industry believes they can do our jobs with social media. I know from my own previous experience working in athletics media relations, where much of your work boils down to statistical work and journalist relations, everyone in athletes thinks they can do your job, so your job status and salary suffer greatly.

    If we are going to start putting more emphasis into social media PR campaigns, then we will need true integration between SM and PR (utilizing the best of both worlds in a campaign, as I like to think of it), while making sure we use tactics and measurements for our SM work, just the same as we would for our more traditional PR work, that should how we increase ROI, increase community and consumer engagement and truly help to build public awareness and brand loyalty for clients.

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