Almost every day I see another discussion about who owns social media, whether social media will completely reinvent the profession of public relations and on and on. I’m not going to weigh in and answer any of those questions because, quite frankly, I don’t think it matters. Instead I’d like to offer my own viewpoint on how public relations professionals can enhance strategic communications programs by employing social media tools.
For more than thirty years, I’ve been proud to be a public relations professional. I’ve built strategic plans that are based on research, analysis, communications and evaluations. Those fundamentals haven’t changed with social media and I don’t expect them to change with the next mousetrap to come along either.
What has changed are the tools in our tool box and the way we communicate and engage our target audiences. Obviously, the reason this change is occurring is the way our audiences receive their news has changed. Does it mean every program needs to contain all the social media tools? There are literally thousands of social media tools from which to choose so the answer is a resounding no.
I maintain it all goes back to planning…if you don’t know where you’re going and why you’re going there, how can you possibly know when you arrive? By the same token, if you don’t know to whom you’re talking, how can you possibly know how to reach them?
As outside strategic counsel to my clients, it is important I understand the tools and when it’s best to use (or not use) each one. That’s how we rationalize spending time each day reading, learning about, and using the new tools. Some days it seems there are too many but most of the time it’s fairly easy to know where to concentrate.
That means I do a lot of listening and planning before I choose the tools. And, I haven’t completed too many plans lately that don’t include a mix of traditional and new tools that are available. If we are going to affect change for our clients, we need to know what’s out there and what is having an impact on their customers’ decision making. In the end, it’s normally telling a story to a variety of people, using multiple tools and tactics.
How do you listen and learn what’s important in your world? Do you believe public relations can continue to grow and thrive? What do you think are the obstacles in our way? Can we really live in peaceful harmony?