Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Why & how PR should play a leading role in social media

Interesting article on why and how PR should play a leading role in social media and get the digital dollars. The article makes quite a few valid points, ones that may even appear obvious to most PR professionals -- however, the biggest issue I see with PR and social media is that at times, agencies and clients rush into the digital space simply because "everyone's doing it" and completely forgetting the basics of good PR.

Extracts from the article below. I very impressed with the points highlighted by Chris Perry, EVP, digital strategy and operations, Weber Shandwick.

Why PR Excels at Social Media
  1. PR owns storytelling and content. That's the heart of what PR does, stresses Jason Mandell, partner and co-founder of Launch Squad. PR professionals understand how to present a story in a compelling, credible, inspiring way...The technology allows the PR professional to tell client stories directly in ways never before possible. But it always comes back to the story," he notes.

  2. PR pushes participation. "...Of all the marcom disciplines, PR is the only one that's most about participation rather than disruption," says Charlie Kondek, director of new media relations at MS&L Digital.

  3. PR reacts in real time. "...the PR function has always involved real-time improvisation based on opportunities or issues of the day. Being in the moment is in PR's DNA," says Chris Perry, EVP, digital strategy and operations, Weber Shandwick. [Think crisis communication.]

Social Media Best Practices for PR Firms
  1. Determine audience and objectives first—not social media channels. [How often have you heard someone say, "Oh, can we use Twitter and Facebook for this campaign?]

  2. Focus on building a body of results-driven work—not building your "social media brand." [In other words, do more, talk less.]

  3. Innovate and experiment internally — practice what you preach. [Besides point #1, this is my favorite - you have to walk the walk, and what better way to encourage everyone in the company to learn about how social media works than by participation? While this is a risky move, at least you learn from your mistakes. Social media is risk.]

  4. Instruct and inform—educate clients on social media. A key to remaining top-of-mind with clients and prospects looking for new ways to communicate with stakeholders is to proactively offer trends, best practices, and recommendations for succeeding in social media.

  5. Cultivate relationships—not just numbers. "Building a massive but ultimately uninhabited database of bloggers is not as useful as sustaining relationships with a narrower slice of them," says Kondek. But keep in mind that social media PR is "much, much more than blogger relations and other influencer outreach," he adds. It's building and contributing to social media channels in a way that's meaningful to your client and your audience.

  6. Remember that while clicks may be queen—content is king. "The core of what we do is find out how to get a company's story out through the media," says Mandell.

Full article: Nine Ways to Star in the Social Media Role: Why and How PR Firms Can Trump Other Disciplines for Digital Dollars

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