Public Relations Pros Must Be Social Media Ready
Public Relations Pros Must Be Social Media Ready
by

I’ve long held the belief that public relations, as a discipline and department, should own the responsibility for social media across the spectrum of enterprise and corporations. Mind you, I don’t think social media should be crammed into a silo with PR and forgotten about, but rather, employed across the organization with PR owning the responsibility of managing its implementation and internal education.

According to a study released today by Eric Schwartzman’s iPressroom, in collaboration with TrendStream, Korn/Ferry International and PRSA, that belief is a general reality. The report, titled, “2009 Digital Readiness Report: Essential Online Public Relations and Marketing Skills,” shows that public relations owns the responsibility for web strategy relative to blogging, podcasting or RSS; social search; social networking; microblogging and, to a lesser extent, web content management. PR prevails in comparison to marketing, IT, HR and Executive Management.

Email marketing and search engine optimization are owned by marketing, but SEO only slightly so. The organizations interviewed for the study include corporations (22%), PR/marketing agencies (44%), non-profits/associations (14%), government agencies (6%), academic institutions (7%) and those classified as “other” (6%). The respondents were 278 public relations, marketing and human resource professionals chosen to identify trends regarding their approach to social media.

The overall conclusion of the study was that public relations and marketing professionals had better be equipped to handle social media if they hope to get a job in the industry. The study includes some fantastic insights and is, perhaps, the first in-depth look at social media and new media marketing needs in the public relations industry.

Schwartzman’s opening letter for the report says, “In addition to providing the first social media and new media channel rankings by adoption rate, importance and type of organization, the study also indicates the broader trends concerning which branch of the organization is winning the right to lead in the use of digital communications in the workplace.”

Winning, yes. Doing it right? Still up for debate.

The problem with the statistics, that indicate my desire for PR to manage social media for organizations is coming to fruition, is that, in my opinion, public relations professionals, by and far, are still ill-prepared to do so. PR has taken on an entirely new role in the organization over the last 2-3 years. It’s the most dramatic shift in the industry since the invention of email, but is happening faster and more dramatically.

College programs are still teaching media relations classes with no regard for bloggers, new media or even the Internet. Press releases, though still a needed skill set, are still being upheld as the industry’s standard fare of everyday productivity.

But, according to the study, PR professionals are now being placed in charge of website content (a little intimidating for most PR folks), blogging/podcasting/RSS (moreso), social networking (frightening) and are a close second in being responsible for SEO (are you kidding me?).

My point, besides directing your attentions to some fascinating information about the changing face of the public relations industry, is to say that public relations professionals, but more importantly, public relations educators, need to quickly recognize that what we’re teaching those new to the profession had better not be what we were taught.

The industry has changed. Now more than ever it is imperative to know we are digital. We are connected. We are charged with managing technology, interconnectivity among organizations and individuals, Sure, we need to understand media relations, crisis communications, event management and all the other sub-topics of PR. But all of them have taken on different environs in today’s world.

Public relations professionals need to make sure we’re teaching what is necessary for younger PR folks to succeed in today’s professional landscape, not wander about it confused and wondering why no one picks up our stories.

Please go read the study, download the PDF and think through the insights it gives. Make sure your bosses, agencies, firms, professors and alma maters are recognizing the world for PR has changed. Without a concentrated effort to do so, our jobs are only going to become more difficult.

And please, share your reactions to the study’s insights in the comments. What I saw is only a fraction of what is there. Discuss!

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  • Amazing write-up! This could aid plenty of people find out more about this particular issue. Are you keen to integrate video clips coupled with these? It would absolutely help out. Your conclusion was spot on and thanks to you; I probably won’t have to describe everything to my pals. I can simply direct them here!

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  • Every great advance in natural knowledge has involved the absolute rejection of authority.

  • This is really great info thank you, this is just what I need

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  • I think we compare the public relation with Social Media

  • Public relation is very important department in any firm because they give all kind of information about firm even employees.

  • cigarmakers

    Good man.Keep it up.I hope u send again comments

  • Public Relation department very innovated department. it is my perception guys.that article is very used full in organization either it is public or private firms.

  • I think we compare the public relation with Social Media

  • Public relation is very important department in any firm because they give all kind of information about firm even employees.

  • Public Relation department very innovated department. it is my perception guys.that article is very used full in organization either it is public or private firms.

    • cigarmakers

      Good man.Keep it up.I hope u send again comments

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  • Yani

    Because am taking the course.

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  • Hi Jason,
    I was reading through some of your posts and this one struck a chord with me – so even though you posted almost a year ago, I thought I'd leave a comment.

    I completely agree with you on the shifting requirements of being a public relations professional – though being a relatively young one (25), I learned PR alongside social media and web techniques. I think that because of my generation (Y), I have grown up exploring and testing different social media avenues and as such saw the alignment between online and offline public relations.

    I'm lucky to work at an agency that also sees the alignment, and yes – we do everything from SEO to blogging to twitter to the traditional stuff. I can't comment on what's being taught at schools at the moment with regards to the merging of social media and PR, because I learned everything through on-the-job experience – I can say, however, that I learned to use both together in all the work experience I have accumulated. Using myself as an example that reflects that in the past 3 years that I've been actively working in the Public Relations industry, there has been an understanding that social media and public relations align well together.

    • Good to hear from an example of someone who is learning and doing it right.
      Thanks for the comment and congratulations for being at an organization that
      seems to have a great vantage point on how to do it well.

  • Thanks for sharing such a wonderful post. I read the Digital Readiness Report 2009 and it gives great insights on the social media landscape and the role and status of PR. I do agree with your point that most of the college programs are teaching conventional skills to budding PR practitioners but from my own personal experience at the University of Westminster, I can say that the course module has been specifically revised to incorporate new media needs. Here's a snapshot of the kind of work we are doing.
    http://insidepublicrelations.blogspot.com/2010/
    http://insidepublicrelations.blogspot.com/

    • Thanks Divya. Glad to hear there's progress being made in the academic
      circles. Appreciate you bringing it to our attention.

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  • Very refreshing read!

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  • Great points! The authenticity/personality point is SO important! Its not about whether you blog or tweet, it's how you blog and tweet! How you show up & what you post matters. Thanks for sharing!

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  • shellyk

    Well, really a great post written by Jason.The truth is that is well past time for professionals to give up on attempting to categorize social media along traditional departmental thinking when it's clearly a hybrid of all of those above as a situational tool. That said, there is a growing need for text book quality class material beyond the hyperbole of What Will Google Do type opinion tomes.. I like the whole topic, It is impressive and appreciative…
    ======================================================
    SHELLY KANE
    mls

  • shellyk

    Well, really a great post written by Jason.The truth is that is well past time for professionals to give up on attempting to categorize social media along traditional departmental thinking when it's clearly a hybrid of all of those above as a situational tool. That said, there is a growing need for text book quality class material beyond the hyperbole of What Will Google Do type opinion tomes.. I like the whole topic, It is impressive and appreciative…
    ======================================================
    SHELLY KANE
    mls

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  • Jason,

    I think you are right. While public relations professionals are being placed in charge of some aspects of social media, most are ill-equipped to manage it properly; some with little or no insight in how messages impact a broad range of publics (although they ought to have those insights anyway).

    And then comes along Young & Rubicam with new integrated sports programming initiative for Cellular South. It brings forward an entire host of social media and marketing solutions that is so far ahead of most public relations skill sets that it's hard to imagine it would have ever gotten on the drawing board had the team behind it been in public relations vs. advertising.

    The truth is that is well past time for professionals to give up on attempting to categorize social media along traditional departmental thinking when it's clearly a hybrid of all of those above as a situational tool. That said, there is a growing need for text book quality class material beyond the hyperbole of What Will Google Do type opinion tomes.

    I'm already engaged in another book project. Perhaps you could take the lead on it. :)

    All my best,
    Rich

  • RichBecker

    Jason,

    I think you are right. While public relations professionals are being placed in charge of some aspects of social media, most are ill-equipped to manage it properly; some with little or no insight in how messages impact a broad range of publics (although they ought to have those insights anyway).

    And then comes along Young & Rubicam with new integrated sports programming initiative for Cellular South. It brings forward an entire host of social media and marketing solutions that is so far ahead of most public relations skill sets that it's hard to imagine it would have ever gotten on the drawing board had the team behind it been in public relations vs. advertising.

    The truth is that is well past time for professionals to give up on attempting to categorize social media along traditional departmental thinking when it's clearly a hybrid of all of those above as a situational tool. That said, there is a growing need for text book quality class material beyond the hyperbole of What Will Google Do type opinion tomes.

    I'm already engaged in another book project. Perhaps you could take the lead on it. :)

    All my best,
    Rich

  • Thanks E. Appreciate the reminder that there are those out there, like you, who are doing something to help rather than letting the world pass them by. Good on you!

  • Thanks for the thoughtful response, A.J. And for the book recco. I'll see if I can't find it!

  • True. I always consider PR part of the greater marketing mix, but they can be distinctive disciplines.

  • Not a bad line of thinking, Walt. There's so much publishing involved in social media that, at a minimum, proofreading functionality should be incorporated. Of course, my thoughts are that PR should run a top-down overview of it all .. strategy, education, proofing. But I've said that before.

    Thanks, Walt.

  • Agreed Brett. We can't excuse laziness. Good thoughts.

  • Thanks Julie. Enjoy the study.

  • Thanks for the thoughts here. I agree that there are some fantastic folks on Twitter working to educate. There are too many to list. In fact, I think everyone who has a role in social media, whether as an educator, strategist, tinkerer, blogger, etc., is an educator.

    And companies … Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Dell … lots of Tech folks. Google “Social Media Policy” and you'll find a ton.

    Thanks for the comment.

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  • Thanks Joe. I don't know that I would agree with Kintzler. Traditional PR methods are changing, certainly. Dead is probably a shock tactic word used to emphasize the point. But their presentation was right on. PR folks need to learn a world of new skills to prosper these days.

    Thanks for chiming in.

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  • Great post Jason, and it's great to read stuff like this. Working within a big company, in the SEO team – I have really started to dedicate myself to the Social Media side of things. So much so, I will be doing Social Media workshops for some key internal teams to get them engaged and bought into the idea.

    It seems our PR team are very traditional based, and it has taken them a time to understand it's worth the SEO team tweaking the Press Releases before they go out to try and get SOME SEO value.

    I was planning on involving any core team that would be a touch point for Social Media, be it us (the SEO team), the marketing teams, the PR team and even customer service. I want our Social Media efforts to even be used to deal with customer complaints and enquiries.

    I love all this :o)

    Great work and great comments. I just feel glad I'm not alone with feeling like this.

  • Great post Jason, and it's great to read stuff like this. Working within a big company, in the SEO team – I have really started to dedicate myself to the Social Media side of things. So much so, I will be doing Social Media workshops for some key internal teams to get them engaged and bought into the idea.

    It seems our PR team are very traditional based, and it has taken them a time to understand it's worth the SEO team tweaking the Press Releases before they go out to try and get SOME SEO value.

    I was planning on involving any core team that would be a touch point for Social Media, be it us (the SEO team), the marketing teams, the PR team and even customer service. I want our Social Media efforts to even be used to deal with customer complaints and enquiries.

    I love all this :o)

    Great work and great comments. I just feel glad I'm not alone with feeling like this.

  • “As far as educators connecting to practitioners and experts, I would only ask this: Is it lack of opportunity or lack of effort? I've been asked to speak at a class or meet with one college professor (albeit 5-6 times) in the last four years. Not that I'm some big, hot stuff social media expert or anything, but I would think I'd be asked more often than once each presidential term. Just sayin'.”

    Hey, Jason. As one of the instructors who invited you to class (Writing for New Media), I will say that I love bringing other professionals in so my students can sample a variety of perspectives and hear a number of different real-life professional experiences. Thanks for being a great panel presenter – hopefully more programs will invite you soon. :)

    It's true that most students are over-extended and aren't likely to start up a topical blog on their own. The trick is to require it and give credit and feedback, as my class does. And it's true that college students are not automatic experts on social media just because they've been using facebook since they were old enough … they still have lots to learn about the Internet in general, even aside from social media and its career implications.

  • “As far as educators connecting to practitioners and experts, I would only ask this: Is it lack of opportunity or lack of effort? I've been asked to speak at a class or meet with one college professor (albeit 5-6 times) in the last four years. Not that I'm some big, hot stuff social media expert or anything, but I would think I'd be asked more often than once each presidential term. Just sayin'.”

    Hey, Jason. As one of the instructors who invited you to class (Writing for New Media), I will say that I love bringing other professionals in so my students can sample a variety of perspectives and hear a number of different real-life professional experiences. Thanks for being a great panel presenter – hopefully more programs will invite you soon. :)

    It's true that most students are over-extended and aren't likely to start up a topical blog on their own. The trick is to require it and give credit and feedback, as my class does. And it's true that college students are not automatic experts on social media just because they've been using facebook since they were old enough … they still have lots to learn about the Internet in general, even aside from social media and its career implications.

    • Thanks E. Appreciate the reminder that there are those out there, like you, who are doing something to help rather than letting the world pass them by. Good on you!

  • bobbatchelor

    Hi Jason, you and I share many viewpoints. I'd love to read a future post about education (the good and the bad). Re tenure, I would have agreed with you (at least to some degree) prior to full-time teaching. However, after 5 years, I have to admit that tenure is necessary.

    Without it, a professor would have little protection from pursuing research outside what the school wanted and could not speak out on societal issues that might or might not be favored by the powers that be. Sure, some professors hide behind tenure and become “lazy and arrogant,” that is certainly the downside. But, I still see more positive than negative coming from it.

    I don't want to get too far off the topic, but I wouldn't be eager to count on high schools to pick up the slack. Students are so test-centric today that many graduate knowing something about scoring well on standardized tests without grasping content contextually. So, we need general education classes at the university level to develop critical thinking, ethical world views, diversity, etc. One, however, could argue about the balance of general education versus professional training.

    There is such a wall built up between academics and professionals that I would say there is misunderstanding on both parts. Both sides are making assumptions, which lead to a whole bunch of problems. You are the kind of speaker I would love to have in my classes, at PRSSA meetings, etc. It is a shame that the colleges in your area haven't utilized you more.

  • Thank you Bob. I'm tickled you came by to offer the professorial perspective. I have to admit that some of the points you brought up strike a chord with me. I worked as a staff member (in athletics, but still) at colleges and universities for 11 years. Being somewhat close to academia and having to witness, deal with, partner with and work with college professors for that many years gave me a passion for/against a few things.

    I despise tenure as a concept and think it makes many (not all, but many) college professors both lazy and arrogant at the same time. And, as you seem to allude, achieving it takes them away from their primary role – educating.

    I also think college freshman shouldn't be subjected to basic core education classes. That's what high school is for. Remove the general education requirements and you have more opportunity to teach them more of their chosen profession.

    Sure there are problems with both of my arguments, but those two issues alone would improve higher education, in my opinion.

    As far as educators connecting to practitioners and experts, I would only ask this: Is it lack of opportunity or lack of effort? I've been asked to speak at a class or meet with one college professor (albeit 5-6 times) in the last four years. Not that I'm some big, hot stuff social media expert or anything, but I would think I'd be asked more often than once each presidential term. Just sayin'.

    Can't wait to see other people chime in in response to your comment. Thank you so much for the perspective. I may push my thoughts on education into a larger post soon.

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  • bobbatchelor

    Hi Jason, great insight. As a PR educator, I agree that many in academe do not cover social media enough. However, over the last 2-3 years, I have seen a tremendous push among faculty to do so, even though the way the academic system is set up, there is little incentive to do so. A PR faculty blog, for example, carries no weight in terms of helping one get tenure, even if it deals with important topics that impact one's teaching, research, etc.

    Most academics are judged by what they produce in terms of articles and books, not learning outcomes by their students. Let me tell you, as a former communications practitioner, it is a difficult mindset to deal with.

    Many faculty members are in 1 of 2 camps: focusing on getting students ready for when their butts hit the seats or establishing themselves as PR scholars through publishing and presenting papers. You'd be surprised how often the two don't meet, even within a department.

    Switching gears, I'd defend faculty members by pointing out that there aren't many avenues for really interacting between pros and teachers. Yes, there are the typical PRSA and IABC meetings, but those don't get past the overview perspective. It has long been my thought that more faculty members should be doing action or ethnographic research inside agencies, companies, etc., if the two sides could make it happen. Then, academics could make major contributions to how practitioners solve challenges.

    Finally, I'd also like to say that much of the learning curve falls directly to students. Most enter the PR major with little or no understanding of the field. We're not even starting at even. So, as a result, we have to teach them how to write releases, feature articles, and the like to get their basic skills to the point where someone would hire them.

    The challenge is that most students today are not willing to go beyond the curriculum, essentially learning things on their own. I urge students to start a blog about a topic they are passionate about when I get them in an intro-level Mass Communications and Society class. Unfortunately, few, if any, take me up on it. By the time they are in the heart of the PR major, they should already have been blogging and reading about social media. However, I would hazard that maybe 1 percent of the students fall into that category.

    Thanks again for raising these points. I wish more professionals thought about how the interaction with faculty members might help the field. And, conversely, I wish that more faculty would think about PR outside the narrow scope of theory.

  • bobbatchelor

    Hi Jason, great insight. As a PR educator, I agree that many in academe do not cover social media enough. However, over the last 2-3 years, I have seen a tremendous push among faculty to do so, even though the way the academic system is set up, there is little incentive to do so. A PR faculty blog, for example, carries no weight in terms of helping one get tenure, even if it deals with important topics that impact one's teaching, research, etc.

    Most academics are judged by what they produce in terms of articles and books, not learning outcomes by their students. Let me tell you, as a former communications practitioner, it is a difficult mindset to deal with.

    Many faculty members are in 1 of 2 camps: focusing on getting students ready for when their butts hit the seats or establishing themselves as PR scholars through publishing and presenting papers. You'd be surprised how often the two don't meet, even within a department.

    Switching gears, I'd defend faculty members by pointing out that there aren't many avenues for really interacting between pros and teachers. Yes, there are the typical PRSA and IABC meetings, but those don't get past the overview perspective. It has long been my thought that more faculty members should be doing action or ethnographic research inside agencies, companies, etc., if the two sides could make it happen. Then, academics could make major contributions to how practitioners solve challenges.

    Finally, I'd also like to say that much of the learning curve falls directly to students. Most enter the PR major with little or no understanding of the field. We're not even starting at even. So, as a result, we have to teach them how to write releases, feature articles, and the like to get their basic skills to the point where someone would hire them.

    The challenge is that most students today are not willing to go beyond the curriculum, essentially learning things on their own. I urge students to start a blog about a topic they are passionate about when I get them in an intro-level Mass Communications and Society class. Unfortunately, few, if any, take me up on it. By the time they are in the heart of the PR major, they should already have been blogging and reading about social media. However, I would hazard that maybe 1 percent of the students fall into that category.

    Thanks again for raising these points. I wish more professionals thought about how the interaction with faculty members might help the field. And, conversely, I wish that more faculty would think about PR outside the narrow scope of theory.

    • Thank you Bob. I'm tickled you came by to offer the professorial perspective. I have to admit that some of the points you brought up strike a chord with me. I worked as a staff member (in athletics, but still) at colleges and universities for 11 years. Being somewhat close to academia and having to witness, deal with, partner with and work with college professors for that many years gave me a passion for/against a few things.

      I despise tenure as a concept and think it makes many (not all, but many) college professors both lazy and arrogant at the same time. And, as you seem to allude, achieving it takes them away from their primary role – educating.

      I also think college freshman shouldn't be subjected to basic core education classes. That's what high school is for. Remove the general education requirements and you have more opportunity to teach them more of their chosen profession.

      Sure there are problems with both of my arguments, but those two issues alone would improve higher education, in my opinion.

      As far as educators connecting to practitioners and experts, I would only ask this: Is it lack of opportunity or lack of effort? I've been asked to speak at a class or meet with one college professor (albeit 5-6 times) in the last four years. Not that I'm some big, hot stuff social media expert or anything, but I would think I'd be asked more often than once each presidential term. Just sayin'.

      Can't wait to see other people chime in in response to your comment. Thank you so much for the perspective. I may push my thoughts on education into a larger post soon.

      • bobbatchelor

        Hi Jason, you and I share many viewpoints. I'd love to read a future post about education (the good and the bad). Re tenure, I would have agreed with you (at least to some degree) prior to full-time teaching. However, after 5 years, I have to admit that tenure is necessary.

        Without it, a professor would have little protection from pursuing research outside what the school wanted and could not speak out on societal issues that might or might not be favored by the powers that be. Sure, some professors hide behind tenure and become “lazy and arrogant,” that is certainly the downside. But, I still see more positive than negative coming from it.

        I don't want to get too far off the topic, but I wouldn't be eager to count on high schools to pick up the slack. Students are so test-centric today that many graduate knowing something about scoring well on standardized tests without grasping content contextually. So, we need general education classes at the university level to develop critical thinking, ethical world views, diversity, etc. One, however, could argue about the balance of general education versus professional training.

        There is such a wall built up between academics and professionals that I would say there is misunderstanding on both parts. Both sides are making assumptions, which lead to a whole bunch of problems. You are the kind of speaker I would love to have in my classes, at PRSSA meetings, etc. It is a shame that the colleges in your area haven't utilized you more.

  • PRSarahEvans and Jason Kintzler of PitchEngine covered this topic in a recent Social Media Breakfast here in Burlington, VT.

    Jason's main point:

    Traditional PR is Dead. Now go Online & Prosper.

    Which includes…

    SEO for Web Video
    Online Reputation Management
    Social Media Distribution (What it is and How to Use it)
    …Plus about 100 other nuances you have to learn to understand.

    Great post Jason, cheers.

  • PRSarahEvans and Jason Kintzler of PitchEngine covered this topic in a recent Social Media Breakfast here in Burlington, VT.

    Jason's main point:

    Traditional PR is Dead. Now go Online & Prosper.

    Which includes…

    SEO for Web Video
    Online Reputation Management
    Social Media Distribution (What it is and How to Use it)
    …Plus about 100 other nuances you have to learn to understand.

    Great post Jason, cheers.

    • Thanks Joe. I don't know that I would agree with Kintzler. Traditional PR methods are changing, certainly. Dead is probably a shock tactic word used to emphasize the point. But their presentation was right on. PR folks need to learn a world of new skills to prosper these days.

      Thanks for chiming in.

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  • GerAJ

    Nice post, Jason.

    Question I often ask is, “What is going to force this change?”

    I believe the shrinking “media” as we know it is actually going to help drive any remaining PR naysayers of digital communications towards acceptance. As the Fourth Estate is being forced to work longer hours, cover more beats, and often – take lower pay – there is a need for PR people to behave in a way that makes journalists operate more efficiently. In her book “PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences”, Dierdre Breakenridge covers many of these issues in a very intelligent manner. If anyone reading this post hasn't already read the book – I highly recommend it. There is also the change in the way people consume, contribute, and criticize information. I think much of the recent data being published by firms like Forrester, MarketingProfs, Marketing Sherpa, and the like will help propel any disbelievers towards this change.

    Finally, I agree with you about PR owning the responsibility of social media at an organization. (At the very least, they should be leading the charge of protocol development and education on usage and corporate objectives) It just seems to make sense that the people with the most experience in controlling message and corporate communications be the ones heading the charge for the corporate voice online? (notice I didn't say the only people speaking in the company voice)

    AJ Gerritson, 451Marketing.com

  • GerAJ

    Nice post, Jason.

    Question I often ask is, “What is going to force this change?”

    I believe the shrinking “media” as we know it is actually going to help drive any remaining PR naysayers of digital communications towards acceptance. As the Fourth Estate is being forced to work longer hours, cover more beats, and often – take lower pay – there is a need for PR people to behave in a way that makes journalists operate more efficiently. In her book “PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences”, Dierdre Breakenridge covers many of these issues in a very intelligent manner. If anyone reading this post hasn't already read the book – I highly recommend it. There is also the change in the way people consume, contribute, and criticize information. I think much of the recent data being published by firms like Forrester, MarketingProfs, Marketing Sherpa, and the like will help propel any disbelievers towards this change.

    Finally, I agree with you about PR owning the responsibility of social media at an organization. (At the very least, they should be leading the charge of protocol development and education on usage and corporate objectives) It just seems to make sense that the people with the most experience in controlling message and corporate communications be the ones heading the charge for the corporate voice online? (notice I didn't say the only people speaking in the company voice)

    AJ Gerritson, 451Marketing.com

    • Thanks for the thoughtful response, A.J. And for the book recco. I'll see if I can't find it!

  • Frankly, Miss V, every company's policy out to be to just let you handle it all. But you don't scale well. Heh.

    For those interested in Valeria's post from Sunday (which is awesome), here's the link:

    http://www.conversationagent.com/2009/08/new-me

  • Thanks, Lee. The notion of PR folks being responsible for SEO is quite refreshing for folks like you and me, but probably scares the shit out of anyone else in the PR world. I'll work my angle and you work yours. If we do a great job, in 10 years we'll both be out of business. Heh.

  • waltguarino

    Hi again! As someone who is both a marketing AND a PR person, I wanted to make the point that there may be a lot of us out there. In other words, the two disciplines are not necessarily singular.

  • waltguarino

    Hi again! As someone who is both a marketing AND a PR person, I wanted to make the point that there may be a lot of us out there. In other words, the two disciplines are not necessarily singular.

    • True. I always consider PR part of the greater marketing mix, but they can be distinctive disciplines.

  • I can't thank you for your comment, enough, Jessica. This is a valuable insight and fact for PR professionals everywhere, not to mention educators, to understand. You are living proof at what is a crippling factor of the PR industry. Our young people aren't being taught what are now essential skills. Good for you to have learned fast and proven your worth. I hope you continue to do so and educate those you come into contact with that they should prepare students better than you were. Kudos for you!

  • I hear ya, Erica. Thanks for the comments. I think there is a misconception that social media is free. Yes, many of the tools are, but the time one spends doing it and/or teaching it shouldn't be. We're slowly moving in the direction of PR firms and Ad Agencies having to go out and find someone to do it, and pay them accordingly. Still, many are under the false impression that college kids can just handle all that “Facebooking” for the company and everything is okay. Those companies and firms will fall almost farther behind than if they weren't doing it all, I'd suspect. But we'll see.

    Thanks for the comment.

  • Excellent perspective and thoughts, Jeff. Thank you for the input. I agree that because the social media waters, discipline, expectations and so on are such muddy waters right now, there will not be one true traditional area that emerges as “owner” of it, or even the most successful with it. Still, my inclination is to say that PR, provided as an industry it can catch up a bit, should be heavily involved if not the purveyor of social media activation and education. Thanks for chiming in.

  • I appreciate your post and the articles. It seems unfortunate that we are debating tribal ownership of a function that defies easy definition. Depending on the organization, its business and marketplace, I find it hard to beleive that any single 'professional' class is inherently more capable of defining, organizing or executing social media for an enterprise than another. Rather, I think those people who are able to define meaningful objectives and measures of success will find themselves best positioned. Many of these folks may be PR professionals. Many of them won't.

  • jeffhammond001

    I appreciate your post and the articles. It seems unfortunate that we are debating tribal ownership of a function that defies easy definition. Depending on the organization, its business and marketplace, I find it hard to beleive that any single 'professional' class is inherently more capable of defining, organizing or executing social media for an enterprise than another. Rather, I think those people who are able to define meaningful objectives and measures of success will find themselves best positioned. Many of these folks may be PR professionals. Many of them won't.

    • Excellent perspective and thoughts, Jeff. Thank you for the input. I agree that because the social media waters, discipline, expectations and so on are such muddy waters right now, there will not be one true traditional area that emerges as “owner” of it, or even the most successful with it. Still, my inclination is to say that PR, provided as an industry it can catch up a bit, should be heavily involved if not the purveyor of social media activation and education. Thanks for chiming in.

  • As a recent grad (May '09), this is unfortunately mostly true. Most professors do not stress the importance and the significance of social media, and frankly, don't know much about it. I was lucky to take an elective course in my last semester titled “Case Studies in Online PR”. Hands down one of the most valuable courses I took during my education. I hope universities can begin to more efficiently grasp this change.

    Also, I found it funny that the majority or internship (unpaid) positions with PR firms usually include maintaining social media profiles… Many firms must think that this is something that they shouldn't have to pay for :)

  • As a recent grad (May '09), this is unfortunately mostly true. Most professors do not stress the importance and the significance of social media, and frankly, don't know much about it. I was lucky to take an elective course in my last semester titled “Case Studies in Online PR”. Hands down one of the most valuable courses I took during my education. I hope universities can begin to more efficiently grasp this change.

    Also, I found it funny that the majority or internship (unpaid) positions with PR firms usually include maintaining social media profiles… Many firms must think that this is something that they shouldn't have to pay for :)

    • I hear ya, Erica. Thanks for the comments. I think there is a misconception that social media is free. Yes, many of the tools are, but the time one spends doing it and/or teaching it shouldn't be. We're slowly moving in the direction of PR firms and Ad Agencies having to go out and find someone to do it, and pay them accordingly. Still, many are under the false impression that college kids can just handle all that “Facebooking” for the company and everything is okay. Those companies and firms will fall almost farther behind than if they weren't doing it all, I'd suspect. But we'll see.

      Thanks for the comment.

  • Jessica

    I graduated college only 2 years ago with a PR degree and absolutely no idea why SEO, blogging or social media was important to my job. Now I handle every aspect of marketing and PR for our company and that includes our social media sites, seo optimization and upcoming blog and vlog. I really wish the universities had prepared me better for the newer media formats rather than focusing on journalism and out of date tactics. Great article, thanks for sharing

  • Jessica

    I graduated college only 2 years ago with a PR degree and absolutely no idea why SEO, blogging or social media was important to my job. Now I handle every aspect of marketing and PR for our company and that includes our social media sites, seo optimization and upcoming blog and vlog. I really wish the universities had prepared me better for the newer media formats rather than focusing on journalism and out of date tactics. Great article, thanks for sharing

    • I can't thank you for your comment, enough, Jessica. This is a valuable insight and fact for PR professionals everywhere, not to mention educators, to understand. You are living proof at what is a crippling factor of the PR industry. Our young people aren't being taught what are now essential skills. Good for you to have learned fast and proven your worth. I hope you continue to do so and educate those you come into contact with that they should prepare students better than you were. Kudos for you!

  • Didn't know about the report, thank you for that, Jason. Published a post on New Media PR: from Reactive, to Proactive, to Interactive just this past Sunday (largely gone unnoticed within the first 90 minutes :)

    As for governance, it's a good thing that I handle PR/Advertising/content mktg and internal comms – social media strategy integrated with all of it.

  • Didn't know about the report, thank you for that, Jason. Published a post on New Media PR: from Reactive, to Proactive, to Interactive just this past Sunday (largely gone unnoticed within the first 90 minutes :)

    As for governance, it's a good thing that I handle PR/Advertising/content mktg and internal comms – social media strategy integrated with all of it.

  • I couldn't agree with you more. I have been advocating that social media is part of the PR realm since it began. I also think it's very important that a professional PR person write a company's blog (or at least review it). Companies put a lot on the line when they have a blog and it should be treated the same as a press release or similar important messages.

  • I couldn't agree with you more. I have been advocating that social media is part of the PR realm since it began. I also think it's very important that a professional PR person write a company's blog (or at least review it). Companies put a lot on the line when they have a blog and it should be treated the same as a press release or similar important messages.

    • Not a bad line of thinking, Walt. There's so much publishing involved in social media that, at a minimum, proofreading functionality should be incorporated. Of course, my thoughts are that PR should run a top-down overview of it all .. strategy, education, proofing. But I've said that before.

      Thanks, Walt.

  • I understand the reluctance of some PR people to get on the digital wagon, because frankly, even for someone who enjoys social media and SEO – it's a LOT of work to keep up with it. It's natural that people don't want to expand their workload and knowledge requirements exponentially – but evolution is demanding it. Get with it or get out!

  • I understand the reluctance of some PR people to get on the digital wagon, because frankly, even for someone who enjoys social media and SEO – it's a LOT of work to keep up with it. It's natural that people don't want to expand their workload and knowledge demands exponentially – but evolution is demanding it.

    • Agreed Brett. We can't excuse laziness. Good thoughts.

  • This is why TR is a secret weapon for some (like the PRSA) :) Nice post Jason, am checking out the report now.

  • This is why TR is a secret weapon for some (like the PRSA) :) Nice post Jason, am checking out the report now.

    • Thanks, Lee. The notion of PR folks being responsible for SEO is quite refreshing for folks like you and me, but probably scares the shit out of anyone else in the PR world. I'll work my angle and you work yours. If we do a great job, in 10 years we'll both be out of business. Heh.

  • I think this is a great post and you are 100% correct. PR and Marketing pros already have the inherent capabilities to master the world of social media and we need to ensure that we are able to stay one step ahead of the graduates. We work with quite a few interns and, as of yet, unless they are involved personally, they are not equipped with the social media skills that we need. I spend a lot of time training our interns, as well as our staff, to ensure that we are all equipped to manage, strategize and maintain social media. We are working diligently to incorporate social media into all of our client's marketing and PR plans. Looking forward to reading the study.

  • juliearnold

    I think this is a great post and you are 100% correct. PR and Marketing pros already have the inherent capabilities to master the world of social media and we need to ensure that we are able to stay one step ahead of the graduates. We work with quite a few interns and, as of yet, unless they are involved personally, they are not equipped with the social media skills that we need. I spend a lot of time training our interns, as well as our staff, to ensure that we are all equipped to manage, strategize and maintain social media. We are working diligently to incorporate social media into all of our client's marketing and PR plans. Looking forward to reading the study.

  • jgoldsborough

    Very interesting. Haven't read the study yet, but plan to.

    Two things:

    1) I think the governance question is a big one and can often lead to problems with social media adoption in a corporation when different departments across the board are doing their own thing. I'm in favor of a “social media department” just like a PR and Marketing dept. But whoever “owns” social media strategy definitely needs to understand that education is a huge part of that ownership. And, to your point, makes it harder for PR professionals to own that education when/if we aren't being taught it in school.

    2) There are some great examples of folks on Twitter who are working to bring social media education into the classroom and provide educational opportunities for PR professionals. @beverlymacy, @rumford and Gravity Summit come to mind.

    Know others who are making waves with social media education? Companies that stand out as having best social media governance practices?

  • jgoldsborough

    Very interesting. Haven't read the study yet, but plan to.

    Two things:

    1) I think the governance question is a big one and can often lead to problems with social media adoption in a corporation when different departments across the board are doing their own thing. I'm in favor of a “social media department” just like a PR and Marketing dept. But whoever “owns” social media strategy definitely needs to understand that education is a huge part of that ownership. And, to your point, makes it harder for PR professionals to own that education when/if we aren't being taught it in school.

    2) There are some great examples of folks on Twitter who are working to bring social media education into the classroom and provide educational opportunities for PR professionals. @beverlymacy, @rumford and Gravity Summit come to mind.

    Know others who are making waves with social media education? Companies that stand out as having best social media governance practices?

    • Thanks for the thoughts here. I agree that there are some fantastic folks on Twitter working to educate. There are too many to list. In fact, I think everyone who has a role in social media, whether as an educator, strategist, tinkerer, blogger, etc., is an educator.

      And companies … Microsoft, Intel, Cisco, Dell … lots of Tech folks. Google “Social Media Policy” and you'll find a ton.

      Thanks for the comment.