PR Campaigns – The blog

February 23, 2009

Bringing the PR basics to the digital world

Filed under: Spirals — Patty Lepkowski @ 9:26 pm
Tags: , , , , , , ,

I think it is safe to say that we, as future public relations professionals, are obsessed with social media. With Facebook, Blogger, YouTube – and our new favorite Twitter – it seems social media is PR’s latest buzz word.

It is clear that social media is changing our profession, but is there such a thing as too much social media? Could it be possible that we have become so consumed with employing social media, that we have become lost in the Twitterverse, the Twitter online community? Have we forgotten the basics of public relations?

Arik Hanson, a communications professional at a health care system in Minnesota, brought up an interesting discussion on PRsarahevens.com about not forgetting the basics of public relations in this evolving digital market. He reminds us to focus on three core competencies: professional skills, client skills and team-building skills. These are skills that we have all been working to develop and hone throughout our public relations classes. And these skills apply to all aspects of public relations – agency work, corporate communications, digital communications, etc.

In the end, if we are going to demonstrate ourselves as public relations professionals, we have to employ the necessary skills to devise successful campaigns that will advance our organizations.

Social media can be a successful communication tool, but without these core public relations skills, what makes our blogs any better than my grandma’s?

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14 Comments »

  1. I definitely agree with this point. Absolutetly. You have to crawl before you walk, walk before you run. I think it’s crucial for us as PR students to truly perfect the basics of our field and show strong execution and understanding of the core skills we need to be successful. The better you understand the basics, the easier the road ahead.

    Comment by viancavv — February 23, 2009 @ 10:12 pm | Reply

  2. You know, I agree with the fact that we must understand the basics but I wouldn’t go as far as to say there is too much social media. In our potential professions, social media has barely even begun to mold our practices. I am a firm believer in that we must adapt to the ever-changing times quicker than the next guy in order to stay on top of the game.

    Last semester, I interviewed for six different internships (all but one being PR related) and every single interviewer asked me how strong my social media skills were. Why? Because most, though not all, of the people they were currently employing didn’t know a significant amount about where the industry is headed. I really think that the leg up comes from the new school game, fixed on the old school’s foundation.

    Comment by jsaxarra — February 23, 2009 @ 10:33 pm | Reply

  3. I agree as well. I think that in this digital age it is easy to get caught up in social media sites. I’ll admit I have fallen victim to them and although I find them a usefull tool and great way to network I definitely agree that we shall not forget the basics. Its what we learn and keep learning through experience that will keep us going. If we don’t rely on these key aspects then there is no foundation.

    Comment by kristenih — February 23, 2009 @ 10:36 pm | Reply

  4. Social medias are not beneficial to PR professionals unless they are strategically and correctly used. However, I don’t think that by using a ton of social medias we are losing the basis of public relations. I think all practitioners, agency or in-house, should play around we different mediums to find out what best fits their client or cause. If you limit yourself to a few, then you may not be reaching your targeted stakeholders. However, after you have tested different social medias and found which work the best, you should focus on just a few. This ensures that the quality and frequency of your posts, tweets, etc. are high.

    Comment by lmdavis2 — February 23, 2009 @ 10:58 pm | Reply

  5. Social media outlets like Facebook and Twitter are so casual. It’s not a problem to forget the punctuation and it’s very common to see a sentence of all lowercase letters but we’d never make mistakes like that on a professional memo or paper for class. I hope we not only remember our public relations skills but also our basic English skills.

    Comment by Christine — February 23, 2009 @ 11:24 pm | Reply

  6. I would have to agree with Christine. Those Networks are casual and they don’t have the same standards as other social media cites. This reminds me so much of my parents. They were always afraid that I would loose my grammer skills and punctuation by using shorthand or informal communication. They hated text messaging, instant messaging, Facebook and even emails sometimes because they felt that I would turn into a shorthand writter. I guess I would just have to say that I often don’t use different styles of writting for diferent types of communication. However when I do its like flipping a switch and my basic English skills kick in.

    Comment by allund — February 23, 2009 @ 11:37 pm | Reply

  7. I agree with this too, social media is seriously taking over our world! I remember thinking this when I was in middle school and Aol Instant Messenger became super popular.. It was like nobody ever talked in person or on the phone because we got so used to these cyber communication skills. I don’t think the idea is permanently harmful, but it would probably benefit us more to spend more time in the real professional world instead of online.

    Comment by cconeder — February 23, 2009 @ 11:38 pm | Reply

  8. Thank you all for the comments.

    @ viancavv: I like that you added the analogy that “you have to crawl before you walk and walk before you run.” I agree. We can’t be successful at social media if we neglect the basics.

    @ jsaxarra: You are right when you say that PR practitioners should be ahead of the game in regard to social media channels. It is clear that social media is changing our field, and we must be adept at each of these channels in order to reach target publics. To clarify, I may have been a bit disingenuous with the phrase “too much social media.” I did not mean that we should pay less attention to these channels, just that we can’t lose sight of what PR is truly about in our rush to jump on the social media bandwagon.

    @ kristenih: I like that you added that “It’s what we learn and keep learning through experience that will keep us going.” The field of PR is constantly evolving, and the skills we continue to acquire will help us to advance as professionals.

    @ lmdavis2: I agree, adapting social media to our target publics is key. At the same time, it is imperative that we remember the basics such as relevance, interest and accuracy, in addition to the three core competencies outlined in Arik Hanson’s post.

    @ Christine and allund: Why shouldn’t we apply the basics of grammar to social media as well? I understand that many people ignore grammar in online discussions, but we are supposed to be professionals. Neglecting these basics too much may lead people to think we are unprofessional and perhaps incompetent.

    @ cconeder: Social media has definitely changed our lives in countless ways. If PR is about communication, we can’t forget the value of old-fashioned, face-to-face conversations. Even though social media may be all the rage, perhaps our clients could benefit by differentiating themselves as clients who care enough to step away from the computer and pick up a phone or pay a visit.

    Comment by plepkows — February 24, 2009 @ 7:00 pm | Reply

  9. Its my belief that social media only seems like it is taking over our world to those of us in the PR field because we are so deeply seeped into the blogosphere/social media culture. Social mediums are an important tool in our position, especially considering the direction the future of journalism is headed. With digital currently revolutionizing our world it is important to know the basics, but be forward thinking enough to embrace the evolution of these tools.

    Comment by laurenmac87 — February 25, 2009 @ 3:15 pm | Reply

  10. @ laurenmac87: I think it is interesting that you said we need “to embrace the evolution of these tools.” I agree. Social media is sure to change, and to be effective communicators we have to be ready.

    Comment by plepkows — February 26, 2009 @ 6:46 pm | Reply

  11. I dont think we’ll lose our basic journalism skills. It’s not like we are gonna drop everything and rely 100% on social media. However, we might be using them less frequently or in different ways. Its important to keep up with the digital revolution and we can incorporate our skills into these mediums. I also dont believe there is such thing as too much social media. It actually expands the methods in which we can reach our stakeholders. Reach is extremely important when sending a message to a target audience. The further a message resonates, the more successful a campaign will be.

    Comment by elwhite2 — February 28, 2009 @ 6:44 pm | Reply

  12. At my internship at Barclay Communications, a PR agency, I learned that it is really difficult to track and evaluate the success of the social media implemented in your campaign. So with that, I have trouble finding the real value of these social media tools sometimes. At other times, when I am spending a great amount of time on Twitter, I can definitely see how social media can be a great communication tool. Am I even making sense? Credibility is huge for me, and I am still trying to find that happy medium of using all of these social media sites.

    Comment by gbohulan — March 1, 2009 @ 11:47 pm | Reply

  13. […] JMC417 class blog This is our class blog, and runs on WordPress. Note that comments are not threaded, so replies use […]

    Pingback by Multiplexation » Blog Archive » Sites and resources for teaching with social media — March 2, 2009 @ 3:32 pm | Reply

  14. @ elwhite2: I agree that social media @ elwhite2: I agree that social media can help us reach more targets, but it’s important that we recognize the challenge that comes with adapting to this medium.

    @ gbohulan: That is interesting that you worked with social media Web sites at Barclay Communications. What social medias sites did you work with? How did the agency resolve the issue of quantifying the results of social media?

    Comment by plepkows — March 2, 2009 @ 8:35 pm | Reply


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