For long enough there were debates about who should own social media in the comms space and PRs keep pushing themselves forwards, but this article by Lisa Devaney from Hai Media Group at The Wall indicates that perhaps some PRs don’t want it – because it’s too much extra work.
To which you have to go “Huh? Don’t you want to stay in a job?” (It’s also a bit of a contradiction from her company’s own PR offering which states “We approach the media landscape with an eye toward the many layers of promotional opportunity that now exist in the Web 2.0 and Mobile 2.0 sectors.”)
And in thinking about it, you know what it’s reminded me? Most PR companies have actually been quite poor at even doing traditional PR for years. But even more worrying, if they don’t like the workload now, wait until they see what’s around the corner…
Lisa’s article starts of reading as a towel-throwing-in exercise before pointing out that some agencies are hiring social media types while others are bringing in external agencies like Contently Managed, so I really don’t know what the point of the article is – she makes one definitive statement and then moves away from that argument.
However, the first point she’s making is a fair one: many companies are saying to the PR team/agency “we want you to do this” and the PRs who don’t know what sort of work is involved in digital outreach and social media are saying ‘yeah, no problems’ without doing any of the basics like asking what the goals are, how it ties in with other strategies, are the other silos in the company ready to be part of this and so on.
But it gets worse for these poor, over-worked PRs because here’s apparently the new skillset needed for the PR of 2011.
Dan Slee has summed it up as thus:
In the days before the web the press office needs to:
- Have basic journalism skills.
- Write a press release.
- Work under speed to deadline.
- Understand basic photography.
- Understand sub-editing and page layouts.
For web 1.0 the press office also needed to:
- Add and edit web content
For web 2.0 the press office also needs to:
- Create podcasts
- Create and add content to a Facebook page.
- Create and add content to a Twitter stream.
- Create and add content to Flickr.
- Create and add content to a blog.
- Monitor and keep abreast of news in all the form it takes from print to TV, radio and the blogosphere.
- Develop relationships with bloggers.
- Go where the conversation is whether that be online or in print.
- Be ready to respond out-of-hours because the internet does not recognise a print deadline.
For web 3.0 the press office will also need to:
- Create and edit geotagged data such as a Google map.
- Create a data set.
- Use an app and a mash-up.
- Use basic html.
- Blog to challenge the mis-interpretation of data.
- But with web 3.0 upon us and the pace of change growing faster to stay relevant the comms team has to change.
(You might think I’ve nicked a lot of Dan’s post there, but I haven’t really – his page has a longer version and also a link to a great presentation to look at.) (And that skillset has terrrifying implications for Scottish PRs but that’s a post for another day.)
Notice how Dan doesn’t say that anything replaces anything else – it’s all in addition to, so if anything the workload is about to get more intense. So the poor PR who weeped at 2.0 is in for a fright with 3.0.
But here’s the thing: not necessarily so. There is nothing to stop employers hiring more people to prevent the strain. But then that means needing to justify the efforts, which means showing results, which a lot of people are still falling down miserably on. It also means that comms teams/agencies need to explain that they aren’t necessarily all things to all people – that they can’t do it all. I don’t profess to be an expert at everything despite having had good successes in traditional PR and social media/digital PR and it would be a fool who did.
But what this did remind me of was when I started out in PR and I asked who did the video package for TV and who did the radio soundbites for radio and I was told that if the TV or radio wanted them, they could come get them. And that’s been the case for most PR firms – they write a press release (which can be cut and pasted into a newspaper or magazine) but hell mend the other mediums.
And that’s a poor show. But then again, we live in an age where many PR types thought they only had to deal with journalists, the public part of the job – as empowered by 2.0 – terrified them.
If setting up in digital comms or social media know what your goals are first. Don’t just do it because others are. Think about what you want to achieve from it. Then look at how you can achieve those goals.