Much has been written about the similarities between the Hippie counter-culture of the 1960s and 1970s and the current Social Media culture or subculture. I tend to ignore the love-fest similarities, and focus on one important shared trait: both movements take away the power of mediating institutions.
The most powerful and influential voices of that generation didn’t just work around the system, but also worked with and through the system. The same can be said about Public Relations professionals who should be the thought leaders for Social Media marketing for brands.
Unfortunately at most organizations, consumer engagement via Social Media is not the responsibility of PR or Communications. And those folks may be the most qualified. Here’s why:
Public Relations = Relate to the Public!
PR has for too long been a misnomer for media relations. PR should be involved in Social Media, directly engaging consumers without media involvement, as well as working with (and coordinating information for) that particular intermediary.
Are consumers’ questions, reviews, and opinions so different than those of journalists? Not anymore. The same people charged with messaging for the media should be the ones delivering messages to consumers in order to preserve consistency.
PR Pros have the chops
Old-school PR – or even publicity – agents spent much of their time pitching the same handful of journalists year after year. However, the fragmentation of traditional media and the erosion of journalists’ jobs forced PR pros to sharpen their skills when communicating to thousands of individuals of all types.
Social Media is not advertising
Engagement means earning, not buying, attention. Big sales and special deals become more noise for consumers to ignore. What’s needed is great story-telling, the specialty of a PR pro!