Public Relations Firms are Poised to Leverage Social Media

With my last post slamming Brody PR, you might think that I’m a social media guy that hates PR firms. That could not be further from the truth. I would have just as easily posted a blog post about a social media agency had they done the same thing.

kyle-lacy.pngKyle Lacy has taken it a step further, stating,

If your public relations firm is not writing, speaking, and educating their clients on how to use social media for brand management or communication? fire them on the spot.

With all respect, I don’t agree with Kyle.

The war isn’t between Public Relations and Social Media, I still value the expertise that Public Relations brings to the table. No social media expert (and I’d challenge all of them) is poised to leverage these mediums better than a PR agency who understands how to effectively communicate and build communication strategies with the public, working on and offline.

One thing we social media guys continue to forget is that we are in the minority. Public relations is the big guy – still pulling the strings and setting the tone for the largest companies in the world. Public relations firms still continue to get great results for their businesses and are a great investment for companies. Public relations firms are formally educated on effective communications, mediums, tactics, etc. They are some incredibly smart folks!

I honestly think the Social Media posse tends to over-exaggerate both the mediums and our own importance. Great marketers who worked in direct marketing, direct mail, database marketing and publications who’ve adopted social media love working in the space because it’s easier to use, easier to measure, and inexpensive to change direction on the fly.

The war between public relations firms needs to go by the wayside and social media guys like Kyle and me need to embrace them, help them, and learn from them. I’m looking forward to educating PR firms on the mediums, automation and analysis that social media can provide since, once they get it, they’ll love the results they can get from it and the immediate gratification it provides.

That’s my 2 cents on Public Relations and Social Media!

Photo of Kyle by Kyle Weller.

10 Comments

  1. 1

    That photo of Kyle is awesome! haha.

    I agree. I am tired of "social media people" spending so much time trying to convince everyone that social media is valuable. People should know by now. Sometimes its almost as if we take a defensive posture before someone has even given us an objection to using social media. I am going to spend less time convicing and more time delivering results for those who have already opened their eyes.

  2. 2

    First off, thank you for using that picture. It is one of the hidden treasures in the pic vault. Secondly, I want to make it very clear that I am not against public relations at all. I believe that pr still plays a huge role in communication strategies. I am just trying to make the point that if your public relations firm is not at least investigating the potential of using social media they are not doing their clients absolute justice. There are plenty of firms out there like Blast Media in Indianapolis who are using social media in the right ways. You have to embrace the Internet for communication that point is extremely important. We are just trying to keep people accountable.

    Good post, Doug. I apologize for any misspellings this is being typed on my iPhone.

    • 3

      A good debate was needed on the PR front, Kyle. And I really let Brody have it with that last post so I wanted to redeem myself a little bit.

      It's an awesome pic! I found some other cool ones, too…. especially the one with you wrapped around some girl's leg… brilliant. I almost used it! Google Images is AWESOME!

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    Here's how the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) defines PR:

    Public Relations is a set of management, supervisory, and technical functions that foster an organization's ability to strategically listen to, appreciate, and respond to those persons whose mutually beneficial relationships with the organization are necessary if it is to achieve its missions and values.

    This definition is laughably broad. It implies that PR is designed to "foster strategic communication" with everyone who matters to an organization. But you can't achieve this goal en masse. Every employee, every customer, every individual has the power to talk about your company whenever they want. PR firms have had a tremendous influence on public perception by judiciously crafting messages to the mass media. The rise of individual voices in the form of social media is an unstoppable phenomenon. A company cannot possibly hope to employ enough PR experts to communicate with millions of people individually.

    That doesn't mean PR is without value. Simply, that PR as a "strategic function" only has value in a world where mass media dominates public opinion. We still live in that world, but it's dying fast. Television networks, radio stations and newspapers are falling apart all over the place.

    Most importantly is that PR knows that it is failing. According to the Edelman 2009 Trust Barometer (<a href="http://www.edelman.com/trust/),” target=”_blank”>www.edelman.com/trust/), 77% of Americans trust companies less than a year ago. They also report that only 26% of us actually trust corporate press statements. And by the way—Edelman is the largest PR firm in the world!

    If the PR people can only get 1/4 of us to trust them, they must be disastrously bad at their jobs. Imagine if only 1/4 of your friends and family actually trusted you. Perhaps the right way for companies to build trust and communicate with individuals is not through the carefully assembled phrasings of PR folks, but by encouraging employees to actually talk to people about what is happening. That might build a useful relationship, instead of one mired in spin.

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    i think public relation is playing a great role and its very needful also. many comments are here for debate purpose. i am completely agree with them there should be a debate on this topic. may be we can start debate here at this post also through comments also. so that there can be a brief debate between all of us… well its a nice post as well as the pic.. good luck

  7. 8

    Well, given the volume of marketing messages (of which 90% is garbage) that consumers and businesses are getting bombarded with, it is only fair to expect skeptics on whether social media really works for their business. Unless your product is geared towards the demographic on that social media, it takes a lot of effort to pull anything in , especially if you are a small guy with an unknown brand.

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    A little late to the party, but great post Doug (and a humble one at that-refreshing to see from one of the experts). I agree, the contention needs to be set aside; there are some great opportunities out there. I apologize up front for being a bit self-serving, but we (RSW/US) just completed a survey, Agencies' and Clients' perspective on the Social/Digital landscape, that complements your post well. Specifically, one of the findings:

    Of the two primary marketing services disciplines surveyed, it appears that PR Firms have the leg up in terms of their ability/experience in managing the measurement of social media. 60% of PR Firms state that they do measure social media as compared to only 49% of Ad Agencies and 45% of Marketers.

    Realize just this bit of data is somewhat out of context, but you can download the survey here: http://www.rswus.com/main/indexsurvey.php Looking forward to following your blog.

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