By Elaine Schoch
Account Director, 104 West Partners
Social Media Can Be the Death of PR… If We Let It
In 2009, we’re going to see more emphasis on social media, which shouldn’t come as a big surprise. This shift presents the biggest opportunity for our profession as well as the biggest threat. Those who have embraced it, adapted their business to it and are providing value for their clients with it will emerge from this economic downturn as the leaders. Those who do not or simply cannot won’t survive.
Dwindling budgets are making low-cost social media strategies look like the pretty girl at the ball. For the first time, executives are starting to see the benefits of social media and FINALLY getting on board with leveraging the Internet for communicating their message versus just for online advertising. Now, writing for SEO, blogger relations, adding RSS feeds, creating podcasts and online video interviews are vital tools to businesses and their public relations teams. The irony is that these are all basic tools that have been around for years. The challenge PR pros are now faced with is how do you leverage these tools to truly spread your message. Or rather, how do you build a dedicated community filled with influencers (press, analysts, bloggers, ‘tweeters’) and customers that work as your evangelists to build/reinforce your brand? This is the challenge the PR profession will be faced with in 2009 and for several years to come. Public relations has always been about “relationships” but now those relationships with your public will be more focused on building and maintaining a community – i.e. community relations.
We haven’t reached the tipping point for social media, in fact we are far from it. With that said, if the benefits of social media are wasted (finite budgets) and we can’t show results/ROI, as a profession we will leave our clients asking if they are working with the right professionals and/or if social media is worth it. They will stop investing in this channel and/or shift ownership to online marketing/advertising departments. So it’s up to all of us to show the true value of social media….I hope you’re up for the challenge. I know I am.