PR is one of the industries that’s taken an alleged “hit” in the last year due to the advent of social media. But I, like many, believe social media is just a new tool that’s making PR more effective – and weeding out the truly great PR executives from the not-so-great.
One of the most exciting things to happen to PR is social media. It’s opened up the opportunity for the industry’s master story tellers and people connectors to do their job more directly – reaching influencers in ways never before possible, and extending our reach well beyond media, which, until now, was the main measurement of PR in the eyes of many companies. But all that’s changing.
Here’s what I see happening in 2010 in PR:
Social media returns the P in PR to “people” – going well beyond “promotion”
There are still PR agencies and executives out there who discount social media and social networks as an important part of their job. “It’s just a tool, it’s a waste of time” they say.
They are missing the point.
Social media helps PR executives to build more new relationships, across a wider landscape and in a sustainable fashion never before possible. Everyone is busy and social media enables professionals to maintain ongoing, quality relationships with influencers, media, customers and partners regardless of where they are or how much time they have for the golf course.
It’s an exciting time to see PR going back to people and relationships. Successful PR executives know how to build and maintain quality relationships – today, social media is a core part of making that happen.
Great PR professionals become influencers in their own right
PR professionals in all industries should embrace social media tools on a daily basis to create a long term community of their own among constituents such as peers, VCs, business leaders, journalists and more. Beyond simply using social media tools in PR campaigns, PR executives have the opportunity to showcase their human side and demonstrate their thinking on a day-to-day basis.
By sharing information and thoughts in these communities, they can become more than just “flacks” with no trust or respect. They can begin to directly influence audiences in their own right. They can demonstrate how they truly understand (and care about) the products, services or industries that they (or their clients) work with each day.
If you’re hiring an agency or an executive to handle your PR, make sure they’re talking – whether it’s on Twitter, a blog, video (Seesmic, YouTube, Vimeo etc.), Facebook, BlogTalkRadio, Utterli or others – building a positive community of their own and a reputation as smart, strategic and savvy experts that others listen to and trust.
However, the myth that social media makes PR obsolete will be crushed
One of the biggest myths in the last year is that social media experts – however you define them – make PR obsolete and unnecessary. Many professionals have bought into the belief that anyone who can use a Flip camera, build a Facebook page or make a few Twitter updates a day can now do PR.
Sure, social media makes communication and promotions easier in some ways, but it doesn’t negate the need for professional public relations experts. Did the ability to dial a phone or send an email make everyone good at PR? No. And neither does social media.
PR professionals who are good at what they do still have a special knack for understanding psychologies of effective messaging and relationship building, the intricacies of good timing and the difference between effective promotion and positioning and outright spamming. If the marketing activity on Twitter is any indicator, good PR is certainly still needed.
Transparency in business communications will weed the great PR executives from the bad
One of the traditional complaints about PR is that it’s a lot of fluff, spin… or given other negative connotations otherwise implying “BS.” Another top complaint – by journalists, mostly – is that PR executives don’t understand who they’re pitching, what to pitch or why.
With the advent of transparency, open communication and the integration of social media into everything that we do, our industry can’t help but weed out the good from the bad. It will become very obvious in 2010 who the truly talented communicators and messaging mavens are. The rest will be finding new jobs.
Businesses will see more value than ever from PR and marketing
With the ability to easily measure influence, traffic and PR campaigns today, businesses will see that PR is easier to measure than ever before. As PR is no longer just about media placements – but rather, driving action from influencers directly – businesses can easily see (and rather quickly, too), if the money they pay for effective PR and marketing is working.
With all the great measurement tools available today, any good PR executive or agency should be able to show a monthly list of results – whether it’s brand mentions, media placements, site traffic, social media campaign participation, direct sales or otherwise. Any good communications professional today should be able to measure their efforts for you and ensure that your money is being spent more wisely than ever – positively impacting your bottom line.
The bottom line – good PR will be easier to identify, meaning businesses such as yours can spend marketing dollars more wisely than ever. It’s easy to see if the PR professionals you hire or work with are respected, listened to and influential, making PR more honest, real and effective for your business.