I have been in the field of Public Affairs for 20 years and in that time I have seen several changes to processes and methods, yet I remain to see one thing constant: the job of PA/PR firms is to communicate.
Lately I have seen many Social Media Experts on Twitter and FaceBook and other sites touting the value of SM. Well, it still comes down to communicating to me. Several of our offices have asked me if they should create a Chief of Social Media position, to which I say, no. Social media should be incorporated into existing processes in PA/PR offices. I see these sites as a tool, not the means to an end. Creating a Chief of Social Media in an office is a redundancy since, for example, the person ends up doing the same thing the Chief of media is doing, just using a different method – sending out news releases or talking with media. I see great examples of people incorporating SM into their processes ever y day. For example on Twitter @LindyKyzer is a PA specialists with the US Army that uses Twitter to send out information about the Army, a sort of virtual press desk officer. She does not use Twitter to talk about how the Army can use SM like I see others do.
A recent post on Wisebread.Com called 7 Ways to Spot A Social Media Snake Oil Salesman got my attention. It has some great points and unfortunately there are a lot of people I have seen that meet these criteria. I liken it to the Strategic Communication experts or the Influence Operation experts or the Desktop Publishing experts or the Digital Camera experts and so on. Each new phase of PA/PR had experts selling us on paying them for advice, yet few could deliver on the actual expectation: increased communication and outreach.
David Meerman Scott is maybe one of the best presenters I have seen discuss how PA and PR firms need to incorporate SM into their processes. His book The New Rules of Marketing and PR is certainly a must read for anyone in this profession. His latest book, World Wide Rave gets at the heart of the argument here. Companies do not need to hire SM Snake Oil salespeople or expensive firms to market their product, they simply need to integrate SM into their existing PA/PR offices and realize that their own employees are the best way to create what he calls a World Wide Rave about the organization, product, service or issue.
Every new process has an “expert” but I would argue the experts are those in the industry who can take the shiny new tool and incorporate it into existing processes to maximize the effect: communication and as David Meerman Scott says, create a World Wide Rave about their organization, product or issue.
What do you think? Maybe I am a SM Snakeoil salesman, but then again, I am not selling you this concept or asking you to buy into it, I am simply asking you to; listen – talk – transform, how we do the business of communication. One thing is for sure, it is changing whether we want it to or not and we need to hop on that train for the long ride.