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Mar 15, 2010
This has been a great thread, full of smart observations (mine excluded) and thought provoking arguments. I should admit that I think I was a little unfair to Kyle in my original post. I was speaking as much in response to his post as I was commenting on statements from social media advocates in general and others in related industries. I should also point out that Kyle himself shrugged off the social media "expert" title at the PRSA Social Media Bootcamp a few months ago and he said something like "If anybody claims to be a social media expert, run as far away from them as possible." (paraphrased) Kyle isn't pointing a finger at PRSA or the local Hoosier Chapter at all, but he is right that some organizations and agencies aren't taking advantage of the learning opportunities out there or simply trying to get their feet wet with social media.
First of all, yes, many PR and marcom professionals are not using social media enough. However, I am SICK of digital professionals and social media advocates thinking it’s the end-all-be-all or a separate function from the communications professional’s bag of tricks. Traditional media still matters. It’s where people go for confirmation and more details. When Steve McNair was shot this past weekend, I was with a group of friends. My wife read it on Twitter (on her phone) and the crowd started pontificating if it was a hoax (a la Jeff Goldblum’s rumored death) or not. Then she went to CNN’s site and was like “Yep, it’s on CNN. It’s official,” and everyone agreed. Today, Kyle tweets: "The battle between PR and Social Media rages on..." linking you here. Hey Kyle, there is no battle! The only battle I’m witnessing is the verbal battle precipitated by social media advocates that they are the only one’s best-equipped for the job or that you NEED a digital-focused company to properly execute a social media campaign. Any thoughts like this are akin to a company web site being the domain of the tech department versus the marcom dept. I think we’ve all come to realize that communications professionals are best equipped to supply content to a web site. We still need tech professionals to do the heavy lifting behind the scenes, creating graphics, etc. We still need people to help us figure out social media measurement, things like API and why it’s important. We still need people to seek out new digital tools, trends, etc. The other thing I’d like to say is that Kyle is the Public Relations (PR) business whether he likes it or not. Why do I say that? Because social media is about relationships and PR is about relationships (the R part of PR). The "publics" are your different audiences and the online audience, whether employees, consumers, friends, investors or whomever is just one of many “publics” a company, brand or person has. Lacy also says, "The simple fact that a communications company is not in-tune with the changing landscape of the consumer driven world is troubling… to say the least." Ummm… hey Kyle, have you not noticed the tremendous interest in our chapter in all topics related to social media? Have you not noticed the hundreds of webinars, conferences, boot camps, etc., hosted by PRSA and other marcom-related organizations like Ragan, Vocus, IABC, Bulldog Reporter and others? I agree with this statement by Elizabeth: “I'm not quite sure where Lacy's argument even lays.” The fact of the matter is social media tools should absolutely be part of a PR or marcom pro’s arsenal. It may not be right for every client, company or brand, but it’s more than likely got some value. We should all be dipping our toes in the social media waters just like the first pros who used email to send news releases and the pro who followed up with a reporter by email instead of phone. One other thing… if you do start using social media, know why you are doing it and what you are trying to achieve.