Does PR Own Social Media?

10 Nov

PRSA Chicago 

The Chicago Chapter of PRSA once again wrapped up a year of programs with the city’s agency leaders discussing this year’s trends and next year’s industry forecast. 
 
Northwestern professor Clarke Caywood moderated panelists Bill Zucker, Midwest Director at Ketchum, Maxine Winer, Senior Partner and General Manager at Fleishman-Hillard, Maril MacDonald, CEO of Gagen MacDonald, and Gary Rudnick, EVP and Managing Director at GolinHarris.

 
What are agency leaders asked about first? That’s right…Social Media. The discussion quickly turned to the looming question of WHO owns Social Media:  PR? Marketing? Advertising?

 

The panel made a good case that PR pros should lead Social Media efforts due to a history of (and skills sets that include) relationship-building, content creation, and garnering attention

 

Bill Zucker cautioned that no one really “owns” social media, but all disciplines should participate. Gary Rudnick added that owning SM is like the outdated thinking that advertising owns TV and PR owns newspapers. 
 
Maxine Winer sees PR beginning to make a difference when it intersects with customer service. The integration of CRM tools with SM platforms enables companies to engage with their customers faster and more directly. 

It was refreshing to hear Maril MacDonald advise the crowd to align SM engagements to your clients’ or company’s most important business metrics (sales, traffic, etc.) instead of communications metrics. 
 
I agree! Too often, PR conferences are infiltrated by “Social Media measurement mavens” (the most horrible term in the industry) and their silly equations that make CEOs’ eyes glaze over. In order for PR to participate in bottom-line business discussions, we need to speak the language.

 

While these PR industry leaders make a good case for PR to lead Social Media, I question if that is really happening currently. Many companies with whom I speak daily have Social Media engagement sitting squarely with Marketing with no contribution from the PR team or outside PR agency.

  
 

Please share your thoughts via comment section –

Should SM engagement be led by PR, Marketing, Advertising, or Customer Service? And…WHY?

 

3 Responses to “Does PR Own Social Media?”

  1. Thomas Scott November 10, 2010 at 8:21 am #

    Good post –

    It might be that social media now owns PR. The movement sucked in traditional PR so that the humble press release is now just a content component of an effective social media campaign.

    • PR Workbench November 10, 2010 at 8:35 am #

      Great point – will we someday explain to our kids that press releases were once created specifically for journalists?

      • Rick Weber November 10, 2010 at 6:05 pm #

        Good post Jack and a great PRSA event. What wasn’t discussed and what will surely be a hotly contested area of conversastion in the future is how will the more notable bloggers and other online commentators of influence positively or negatively influence the success of traditional advertising, PR and even other social media campaigns. No one has talked about the cross-over power and influence of this dynamic but it will surely be something that has to be considered by the PR community and other communicatons agencies now and in the future.

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