I ‘ve been reading about social media leading the demise of public relations for sometime. In fact, I think the opposite is true: PR is gaining more relevance. Social media is public relations in its truest form and the two disciplines are highly complementary, not at odds with one another. While it can be challenging to keep pace with new social media tools popping up each month, tech-savvy PR professionals are at the forefront of online conversations and successfully incorporating social media into their communication strategies.
Don Wright, Ph.D., APR, PRSA, professor of public relations at Boston College and editor of PRSA’s peer-reviewed PR Journal, estimates that approximately 70% of all social media programs are being driven by public relations professionals.
Here are 10 reasons why from PRSA:
- Social media puts the consumer in control, and PR pros are accustomed to operating in an environment that cedes control to others.
- Public relations has always been about engaging with key audiences to establish mutually beneficial relationships.
- Public relations is a two-way discipline. It disseminates information about an organization and brings back information for analysis and response.
- Like all the different forms of traditional media — television, radio, newspaper, magazines — social media is a conduit to engage audiences and build relationships. It’s not about the technology, it’s about the people who use it.
- The decline of traditional media is encouraging PR professionals to identify new means of engaging audiences and “earning” new media.
- Public relations is a content-creation discipline. The written word, certainly, but also photos, audio and video, which are expected with online engagement.
- In an environment where information moves at tremendous speed, public relations is one marketing and communications discipline that can keep pace.
- For a medium built on authenticity and the ability to trust “people like me,” public relations is a builder of trust and keeper of the corporate conscious. We speak in a credible voice, while adhering to ethical communications principles.
- Public relations educators are some of the leading sources of social media research.
- Edward R. Murrow may have said it best: “The newest computer can merely compound, at speed, the oldest problem in the relations between human beings, and in the end the communicator will be confronted with the old problem, of what to say and how to say it.”
Social media is causing a major paradigm shift and PR professionals who don’t adapt are likely to become sitting ducks. Smart PR professionals are evolving their skill set with the changing media landscape, which includes more digital communications today than ever before. They are leveraging new online vehicles and successfully incorporating social media into their public and media relations strategies to engage stakeholders, listen to and communicate with audiences, and tackle issues online (see my post on the Domino’s Pizza crisis). Social media is having a significant impact on public relations; for those of us who embrace it and use it effectively, it will not kill the PR star! The next time someone tells you PR is decreasing in relevance, share this top 10 list.