The emergence and widespread infiltration of social media has dramatically changed the public relations industry (PR). This isn’t the first time the PR industry has had to evolve its way of doing business. Orlaith Finnegan (author) on Social Media Today remembers a PR director who relished telling his new interns how fax machines were the new thing at the start of his career. For years, PR executives and rolodexes were the best of friends. Then the rolodex was replaced by the personal digital assistant (PDA). Now the PDA has been replaced by smartphones.
PR success depends on the person’s creativity and tactical abilities. This is why the PR industry has to stay on top of changing technology and experiment with new tools and techniques. Following are the answers to two questions recently posed to two very busy PR professionals in an interview by Orlaith Finnegan. She wanted to know how social media has affected their profession and how social listening is helping them monitor and react to the latest news about their clients.
“What are you doing now as a PR practitioner that you couldn’t do five years ago, before the explosion of social media?”
Neil O’Gorman, communications professional, www.ogcommms.ie, responded that in his view communications has changed for the better even though it’s drastic for his industry. He claims that too much focus is placed on the challenges and risk in a world lacking control, but, the bright side is that there are many opportunities to listen, understand, and engage with audiences. He feels that social media is a “powerful enabler” for organizations and brands.
He said, “I believe that PR has for the most part operated in a vacuum for way too long and has not been as well integrated into the communications strategies of brands and organizations as it could and should have been. That is changing. Why? Because as the world (consumers, businesses, and organizations) are online more and more, our ability to uniquely reach key audiences is being challenged by a new competitor set which are: digital agencies, social agencies, media buying and ad agencies. However, now we can listen, understand, tweak, influence and measure like never before. So, we have a chance every day to use our unique skill set, creating understanding, awareness and affinity across the influential earned media and social spaces in ways that really add value. A key challenge remains striking a balance between listening and doing and not just navigating our way through the unprecedented clutter and noise, but helping clients do likewise and adding clarity in the fog.”
“How has social media impacted the PR practitioner’s role, in your view?”
Bernice Burnside, owner of communications agency, Bvisible, advises that the role of the PR practitioner has been impacted substantially. In addition to the job being more demanding, PR representatives need to think quicker and move faster than ever before.
Before social media, the PR industry had a 24 hour rule, where companies needed to and were expected to respond to issues. This 24 hour rule has transitioned into the golden hour” rule. PR representatives need to respond within an hour and this has required an extreme increase in multi-tasking skills. PR specialists are simultaneously monitoring breaking news stories so one client can offer commentary while editing a blog post that’s about to go live for another, and taking a call from a journalist who has just noticed another client announcement on another outlet. She said, “Coffee becomes your best friend and you invest most of your hard earned money in what you now consider the best invention ever, a good bed!”
Source: Social Media Today
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