The Need for a Holistic Approach to Social Media in PR

There’s one PR debate out there that refuses to go away – the role of social media in communications plans. This was highlighted by PR Week recently, when they wrote about recruitment consultants’ struggle to fill digital roles. According to the article, around a third of employers are looking for candidates with social media expertise – but only 6% of CVs submitted over the last two years referenced social media.

In my opinion, this is down to one of two equally worrying points; either PRs aren’t using social media, or they don’t think it’s important to their role. I’m inclined to believe that the real reason is a combination of the two. PR companies are beginning to wake up to the value of social media, but they are not implementing a holistic approach to it. Rather than encouraging all their staff to get involved, they are relying on a small team of experts to drive the programme, and the skills involved aren’t being passed around the agency.

The key to learning about social media is, as with everything, to get involved. At Cirkle, we’ve all been on training courses and we’re encouraging our clients to use digital media to drive their campaigns. For example, the Energizer team ran a very successful forum on Mumsnet just before Christmas, generating plenty of conversation around batteries and offering advice on how to get the most out of them over the key Christmas period. We’re all big Facebook users (who isn’t?!) and we’ve also embraced Twitter as a way to converse with other media professionals, and, increasingly, the press (you can follow me on Twitter: @RebeccaatCirkle).

There’s obviously a lot more out there and it’s a steep learning curve, but ignoring social media isn’t going to get PRs anywhere. Online communities are here to stay, and I think that PR is going to increasingly centre on them. We have a duty to our profession to get involved, or we’ll start losing out to specialist agencies very soon.

Do you think it’s important for PR professionals to have a good understanding of social media?

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