PR? Or Just Social Media?


It occurred to me that all my talk of social media probably gets me pegged as a "social media" guy. Thing is, I’m a PR guy. Social media does play a big role, but more to the point, it plays a more visible role. Communications and messaging strategy are still big parts of our job, as is pitching print, broadcast and "Web 1.0" media.

People may see me and my employer, SHIFT Communications, as social media entities because that’s the most visible part of what we do. It’s also what I write and talk about more, because it is new and we have been able to assimilate social media expertise into an overall PR program.

I don’t know if SHIFT and I get pigeon-holed as strictly "social media" rather than PR, but the thought sometimes occurs to me.

There is another side. Should I/we make more of an effort to show it?

To put it another way- is a well-rounded PR agency/person better off being known for social media leadership or should we push knowledge of "the basics" forward more?

Or, to use one of Duke Ellington;s favorite phrases: should we all be “beyond category?”

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  1. I think that you definitely should integrate some “original g” pr into your blog Doug. I think a lot of people who trend more social media oriented/community oriented would greatly benefit by some interesting articles on PR.

    I personally love hearing about PR and try to incorporate it into my blog. Do I do it with an SM spin? Absolutely, but it’s the main thing that separates me from my competitors. So…would love to read more PR stuff :).

  2. Stuart– thanks– I guess the next challenge is not to write what everyone else is writing– but I suppose that’s even harder pertaining to social media at this point.

  3. I feel your pain. I’m frequently introduced as a “social media expert” or, worse, “guru,” and feel compelled to point out that I’m a communications consultant and have been at it for 32 years. I’ve been focused on online communication since around 1985 and social media is a logical, natural continuum. But, it’s what everyone’s interested in.

    Categories are useful. I’ve commented to Steve Rubel several times that while it may all just be “media,” distinguishing social media helps, since not all media are social. I use the analogy of books — there’s a big difference between, say, “100 Years of Solitude,” “The Bible,” “What Would Google Do,” “John Adams,” and “Valley of the Dolls.” All books, but it helps to separate literature, fiction, history, non-fiction, mystery, romance, and so on. Otherwise, finding what you want would be torture.

    I was thrilled to get a call today asking me to draft a proposal for consulting services that would incorporate social media into a broader public affairs effort. But does everyone know I do that? Nope. So I think you’re right. While categories matter, we need to work on branding so we’re recognized for everything we can do, not just one dimension of it.

  4. I feel like there’s a battle to brand “social media guys” right now. On one side, you have people who champion social and new media, labeling themselves as PR professionals or perhaps PR 2.0 professionals. On the other side, you have people clinging to traditionalism and labeling “social media guys” as vagrants and scam artists, bent on undermining PR and traditional media outlets.

    A well-rounded PR agency should be known for what it does best, so it would probably benefit the brand more to show knowledge of the “basics” more. But to communications students like me, Shift social media guys are just more awesome than some of the PR guys we study. From where I sit, the lines between PR and social media are getting thin. I’d be interested to see you explore how closely related social media and PR are, so people know that by being “social media guys,” you are also talented PR guys.

  5. Not trying to write what everyone else is writing is always a challenge. Social Media has the particular issue of being a highly connected community…so you have an echo post or 500 for every great thought.

    My only hope? Keep trying and thinking. I try and randomly come up with something everyday, it’s usually spur of the moment. I think that helps keep my blog fresh. I wish I was doing more actual pitching of brands at the moment…so I could incorporate that into the Lost Jacket.

  6. You touch on a lot of great points. We should all work to make sure all of our clients are fluent so they don’t rely on the in-house/agency ‘guru’ or ‘expert.’ Every agency needs to have a very robust education program. The walls are coming down as each new group of interns grew up on Facebook …

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