I know that I have been talking a lot lately about how social media is the wave of the future. I do this because I fervently believe this to be true. The Internet has become the primary mode of mass communication. Because of its versatility and the ability for everyone to take part, traditional methods of just shouting out your message to be heard via print or television just does not work on the Internet. People like to talk, and with the Internet, they have the ability to tell millions, not just their next door neighbors. That is why public relations is heading down a path where social media will become the number one tool in its arsenal. Unfortunately, many PR agencies have not grasped this yet. They don’t allow their consultants, who are the communicators, to take part. They leave it up to their IT staff to handle their social media work even though they understand the technology, they may not necessarily be the best communicators. This will be a fatal mistake. The agencies that are hiring or training consultants who are great communicators as experts in social media will be the agencies who thrive. They will be able to use social media to get their message out and the netizens telling the message in their own words to other people. I cannot think of a more successful campaign than having thousands of people on the Internet giving out your message to thousands more. I recently came across an article, albeit a bit dated from the summer of 2008, that argues this exact point. Jason Falls, who is a blogger on the blog Social Media Explorer
argues in his article Social Media is the Responsibility of Public Relations
that if public relations professionals can get their act together and begin to understand this technology and exploit its potential, it will take the profession to a new level:
As soon as three to five years from now, I see social media marketing as an almost exclusive domain of public relations professionals, so long as we get our collective heads out of our asses and learn how to do it. Some of us are there. Many of us are not. Too many of us think social media is newspapers in Eastern Europe. In my mind, social media is essentially public relations in the online world. Divide the category up by component — blogs, social networks, microblogging, podcasts/Web TV, wikis/collaborative software — they each ladder in some way to a component of public relations — writing, corporate communications, community relations, media relations, event management. PR as social media owner in many ways also addresses the concern of the online community that marketers don’t belong. Assuming we can trim away the corporate speak and manage transparent communications efforts in years to come, public relations representatives are the least likely to sell and most capable of speaking as humans to humans, rather than up-selling hucksters to “consumers.”
This sums up basically everything I have been arguing for a long time now. EASTWEST Public Relations has been working feverishly to become an agency that is comprised of consultants that are both great communicators and have the ability to utilize new technologies that will be the primary method of communication in the next few years. Though hard work and endless nights playing with new tools and writing across various mediums, we are nearly there. Some are afraid, however, since social media can be intimidating, but once you learn and become hooked, you will never see public relations in the same light again.