As technology has changed the way we live, we have also seen the evolvement of job functions in the advertising space. Social media has also created new roles, expanded existing job functions and blurred the lines between that of PR, digital, marketing and IT. It makes one wonder is there a right or wrong answer to this dilemma.
Having worked in a digital agency for 4 years, here is my take on where social media falls. In my opinion, it should fall under the digital arm. When you look at the digital ecosystem, it covers web presence and other online engagement platforms, so it would only make sense for the digital arm to handle a given brand’s social media presence.
Should PR lead social media?
PR professionals are generally blessed with great communication and persuasion skills. If there is a communication problem, the public relation folks are roped in to solve the issue. It makes sense with old media, but now it begs the question whether the role for social media is actually more of strategic advice, planning and enablement.
Some of the very best ideas came from outside of PR setting. That would have not been possible if PR micromanaged the role. The goals and how you track those goals should determine which departments drive your efforts. For example, if I am trying to utilize social media to help with a reputation management issue within Google SERPs, why on earth would I contact my PR team first?
PR firms fail to adapt in this fast paced environment
The foundation of PR is about driving communication in predominantly offline channels, it’s for that reason many PR agencies have failed to transform into a digital-focused communication agency. As the advertising space is one of the competitive industries, many of these PR agencies are forced in developing their digital expertise and skill sets to remain competitive in the industry. It is no longer an option.
However, many of the organizations/clients prefer to engage a digital agency to execute their social media campaigns. Often, the operation and tactical parts of social media campaigns involve combinations of several digital properties such as website, social networking sites, search engines etc. In that case, a digital agency has a major advantage as it understands the landscape and medium.
Control of information much more difficult in a PR agency setting
One has to remember that within a company, things are much different than within a PR agency. Control and flow of information as well as ideas and tactics are very tightly held. Controlling how those interactions take place, where they take place, when and the tone is a big issue in a PR agency. The tactical nature about social media is that it is an open and unfiltered distribution channel. It’s hard to let go of that control, while a digital agency is more flexible because it does not follow a rigid structure unlike a PR agency.
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