Does Social Media Need PR or Does PR Need Social Media?

Mar 2011
Photo credit: @riverthepuppy
Photo credit: @riverthepuppy

If social media is the new hotness does that make PR old and busted?  The relationship between PR and social media is interesting because it’s a combination of best friends who want to hang out together but are also competing for the same position on the team.

However, one of the two has to be the dominant entity.   In my experience, social media people don’t need to know PR and PR people need to know social media, but don’t.  I’m speaking in generalities, and it’s a frustrating combination to say the least.

The benefit of social media is that, if you’re doing it correctly, it happens on a consistent basis.  Every day you’ll be checking in somewhere on Foursquare, Yelping a review, tweeting an update, posting something to your wall or blogging about the show you saw at that groovy theater.

It’s all about building friends, reaching out to people and having real interactions.  If your twitter stream is all out bound messages with links, then you’re doing it wrong.  You’ve got to chat with people to let them know the person or brand behind the social media.

PR is the rifle in your artillery.  You have a special event that needs people, there is a product coming out for your company or you have a crisis and need to defend yourself against bad press.    PR is usually a one subject concentration of what needs to happen for this specific date, action or cause.

PR is like getting a Christmas card from the friend that you speak to once a year.  Social media is your friend that sends you a Christmas card, in addition to multiple monthly updates about the pets, kids and vacation photos.

Imagine that a friend contacts you who you haven’t spoken to in quite some time.  After the initial pleasantries you’re thinking to yourself (but not saying it because you’re far too polite), “you’re trying to sell me something aren’t you?”  If you have all the time in the world for hotel ballroom meetings that’s great, however, we’re slammed and would prefer the multiple short communiqués than one long and potentially annoying one.

PR is still needed and is far from old and busted; it’s just riding shotgun in social media’s car now.

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