A few years ago, I worked at one of the nation’s first purely social media agencies. Our customers relied on us to do all things social, which included blogger outreach, blog strategy and launch tactics, Twitter postings, and investigating the latest and greatest social tools from Radian6 to Ning. The PR agency focused on media outreach, briefing books, and “traditional” pitching and messaging.
There was a clear line between what we did and what they did. Today, it seems all PR agencies do social media and all digital/social media shops do PR. Rather than specialists, we have all become generalists, and the lines between PR and social media continue to be blurred.
This is not necessarily a bad thing. While the market should continue to have hard lines and differences between say, advertising or paid media and PR; the lines between PR and social media have a more “dotted-line” relationship.
If the goal of PR is to raise brand awareness, generate earned (or paid) media, gather speaking and award opportunities and conduct AR or IR activities, then social media can help. Social media can help you see who you’re connected to that can help you (journalist, industry SME, etc.), and also what has been said about your company or competitors. Social media can help your company understand its audience, stakeholders and influencers. With that understanding, you can shape your messages and outreach in a more strategic way.
There is often an “us vs. them” mentality between traditional PR and social media, even within the same agency or company. We all need to work together to see where we can be the most effective and push forward together towards the greatest success for our companies and our clients. We need each other.
Instead of thinking about what “you” do vs. what “they” do (those crazy digital people), think about how to collaborate on projects.
Strategy – what audiences are you trying to reach? Where is there overlap? What is your end-goal?
Influencers – who are your key media targets? What SMEs, influencers and evangelists can you reach out to and do they have online profiles? How can you make this valuable for them?
Messaging – now that you have your targets and goals in mind, what’s the message you want to communicate? What are the best platforms to do this (Facebook? Twitter? Press release?) and who will own it?
Tactics – who’s on first? Make sure there is a coordinated effort between PR and social media resources so that everyone is on the same page. Everyone has a job to do, let’s make sure the right hand knows what the left hand is doing.
Goals/Measurement – what is your measure for success? Is the PR goal press release pick-ups and the social media goal re-tweets? What do you want to get out of sharing your message or campaign?
If you are able to put in the work up front to manage expectations and responsibilities, your campaign should be a success.