Market to the Moment

The Future of Public Relations?

Last week, Jason Falls sparked a debate about the future of Public Relations in his post Social Media is the Responsibility of Public Relations.

Falls points out, many companies don’t have the resources to employ Social Media specialists and must rely on internal resources to create and maintain consumer and business relationships online. He suggests that social networking must become a function of Public Relations.

In my mind, social media is essentially public relations in the online world. Divide the category up by component — blogs, social networks, microblogging, podcasts/Web TV, wikis/collaborative software — they each ladder in some way to a component of public relations — writing, corporate communications, community relations, media relations, event management.

I agree.  As people demand more from brands and service providers, Social Media is enabling us to connect with our prospects and customers in very meaningful ways. Blogs, forums and social networking are changing the way companies interact with customers. Our communications are becoming more targeted and personal. We can expand out market coverage and create the opportunity to interact directly with the people who purchase our products. Moreover, companies that make the effort to adopt current technologies will gain an advantage over their competitors.

Solutions for Small Business

So what is the solution for the small business that does not have a Public Relations, Marketing or Social Media department?

Companies incapable of meeting the ever-increasing demands of Public Relations will need to outsource most of their Social Networking functions. In the future, Social Media Specialists will be in high demand as more companies realize the importance of these activities. For those of us willing to learn new technologies and participate, we have the ability to create manageable internal social networking strategies. If we want them to be effective, we will need to acquire the appropriate skills and dedicate ourselves to the ongoing process.

As media outlets become smaller, we need to find new ways to gain publicity and get people talking about our companies. We can’t always rely on media contacts to relay our positive image. We need to create continuous strategies we can monitor and alter depending on our observed results. Through direct contact, we have an opportunity to discover what our customer wants, gather relevant ideas and present a solution to their immediate problems.  If we create valuable connections, and refrain from using Social Media as another medium for our sales pitch, we have the opportunity to use these interactions to create a positive public image and develop desirable product.

Falls predicts:

Social Media will evolve into components of a sophisticated public relations effort.

Businesses that have clearly developed Social Media strategies, and use both Marketing and Public Relations resources, will be further ahead than companies that ignore online networking, or misuse it as a form of advertising and promotion. The main purpose of social networking is to create ongoing conversations. Companies that do not participate in the conversation, or use it solely as a means to push products in the faces of potential buyers will fail.

As more and more of our potential customers are using social networks to evaluate businesses and brands, we need to learn how to start conversations, build relationships and grow communities.

What do you think?

Pamela Weir is a Marketing Copywriter. If you are looking for a sales writer with experience creating website content, press releases, media one-sheets, and warm letters, please visit her Copywriting Services page for information.

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About Pamela Weir
I’m a Content Copywriter and Small Business Consultant who focuses on helping you find your voice, business story, and biggest fans. If you need to hire a copywriter who knows about SEO and B2C writing, I’m your girl.

Comments

3 Responses to “The Future of Public Relations?”
  1. Pamela,

    I feel you (and Jason) are correct about social media and how is currently and is going to increasing become a part of companies’ public relation departments.

    I like your last line, “As more and more of our potential customers are using social networks to evaluate businesses and brands, we need to learn how to start conversations, build relationships and grow communities.”
    Too shay!

    Sincerely,

    Teresa

  2. Pamela Weir says:

    @Teresa,

    Thank you. I struggled with this one for a long time. There are many conflicting ideas about the subject of Social Media and Public Relations.

    I think it’s a very important discussion.

    Thanks for commenting.

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