Why am I hearing, well, seeing via Twitter and PR blogs, so much about the field of public relations as a dying profession? Most arguments are based on the idea that social media is replacing public relations. Public relations, and PR stars, are most definitely not on their way out of the industry; in fact, I would argue we are critical for success, considering today’s economic status and general business culture.
Obviously, I’m an advocate of all-things social media. I don’t see how any public relations pro in today’s market could be against it. In fact, I recently travelled back to my alma mater, Ohio University, to speak on a panel at the PRSSA chapter meeting…in the legendary Scripps 111. Of course, plenty of students had questions about social media and its relationship to PR. These tools go hand-in-hand. As experts in public relations, it’s our job to adjust to changing trends and forms of communication as they pop up (not that I’m saying social media is merely a trend). At the panel session, I emphasized the importance of utilizing social media – personally and professionally. Today, the only way to keep up (and ahead) in the game of PR is to understand, practice and monitor social media efforts. Monitoring and proving value is the critical point to remember.
This concept of monitoring and proving value took me right back to my own seat in Scripps 111 as a student in my intro to PR classes. Since my freshman year, I was engrained with the idea that public relations was “a two-way communication between an organization and its publics.” The typical tactics included press releases, event planning, crisis communication, strategic print materials, etc. What was the so-hard-to-prove bottom line that my professors begged for in every assignment? VALUE. RESULTS. NUMBERS.
The exact same is true of utilizing social media for our PR efforts – from two-way communication to finding the value of PR. Social media is a tool to implement public relations plans in today’s marketplace. It is a form of communication that is vital for executing a successful PR campaign – if you can prove the value, that is.
In the end, PR is not dead. Are some old tactics and forms of communication (see my last WM post) dead? Of course. That’s part of the job – know your audience and adapt. Social media is an exciting new tool in our PR toolbox and, with the right knowledge and skills, any PR professional can provide value and results with social media.