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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Not Just Another Post About Social Media and PR

The discussion of social media's role in the practice of public relations can be found throughout the Web -- many may say too frequently. But in reality, those who say they've grown tired of this discussion are more likely to read posts on the topic than anyone else. So, why fight it? If social media is really here to stay, we should attempt to learn as much about it as possible. We should read as many blog posts on the topic as we can.

Public relations is a multifaceted practice that grows in relevance and prominence each day. In a relatively short period of time, it has evolved and adapted to changes in society with grace. As society continues its seemingly continuous evolution, public relations finds new ways to evolve with it.

From the early days of Edward Berneys to the emergence of social media, public relations has offered practical applications for business strategies. Social media's importance in regards to the practice of public relations will increase as media tendencies continue to shift. But this shift should be seen as a positive one. Social media has made a big splash in a short amount of time. To ignore it for much longer would prove to be devastating to your career and reputation.

Social media's importance rests in its impact on the traditional media landscape.

With its viral, unedited and informal format, social media has altered the media more than any medium in recent history. Those who wrote television off as a "fad" or as not having the clout newspapers held, are surly not around to tell the story of their failures. We must embrace these changes and understand that this new medium presents new opportunities for public relations. The integration of social media into the overall media landscape creates challenges, but those challenges create ample opportunity.

There is no doubt you have examined how social media emerged and feel there is very little left to read about its place in the marketing mix, or in a PR plan. And I am sure you have investigated how social media tools can be used for public relations purposes. So, why waste your time with studying this phenomenon any further?

Because there is much to learn from someone else's perspective.

It is important to encounter opinions on a daily basis. If you simply rely on your own thoughts and reasoning, you risk becoming a narrow-minded, selfish, bitter old man. You must realize that everyone has their own thesis on best practices when it comes to social media. Although you may not agree with them -- as I don't agree with much of what I read -- you become a better communicator just by acknowledging other's points-of-view. It is good to be a sponge. Absorb as much knowledge as you can and squeeze out that which is undesirable -- it's simple really.

To contribute to your understanding of social media and its place in the practice of public relations, I have developed my own thesis. Stay tuned for a three-part special on social media's role in PR.

There are three dominant functions of social media as a PR tool. I will discuss each of the three in separate posts throughout the next few weeks.

What are the three functions? Why those three? These questions will be answered in the near future. I understand I am no "expert" and I understand you may already have your own "Top 3 Functions of Social Media." But again, it is always beneficial to hear the other side of the story. Maybe you know more than me. Maybe your conclusion is better than mine. That's what the 'comments' section is for. Let me know what you think.

For now, I reiterate that there are three fundamentals of social media one must comprehend before beginning to indulge in the revolution. While there are many reasons to use social media for public relations purposes, I feel there are three that rise above the rest.

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