As a soon-to-be graduate and consistent PR intern, I’ve noticed some trends in the ever-changing communication industry that are applicable to PR professionals at all levels and suggest social media is an integral part of public relations.
As the lead for press outreach for Social Media Day Detroit (Mashable), I experienced first-hand the value of social media. I was able to interact with radio DJ’s, TV anchors and print media reporters who weren’t responding to my calls or emails, but responded to tweets within minutes. Through this experience, I noticed things about social media that have altered my outlook and approach to communication as a PR professional.
1. PR VS. SM. Once separate. Now equal.
A few years ago, the line was drawn between public relations and social media. While different communication strategies apply to these different mediums, the line is certainly blurring between careers in social media and in PR. In many companies, the two positions are interchangeable and skills from both areas are necessary in each job, but often on job search sites the two are listed as entirely different jobs. Social media has become so integrated into the daily life of the public relations professional that it is natural for them to use it for promotion, networking and branding. From personal experience, I noticed that reporters don’t just report for the standard media outlets. They are on social media sites sharing stories, commenting on issues and finding new angles. By interacting with them online, a relationship often forms that is mutually beneficial.
2. SM > Email (sometimes)
Generation Y-ers are often associated with (and sometimes blamed for) the digital revolution and the shift in communication preferences from phone to email. The preference has changed again, but this time to social media. While both phone and email are still relevant, social media has become a more efficient means of communication and increasingly, the first place PR professionals are looking to connect with others and research industry professionals.
When I meet someone that I would like to stay in contact with, see an article that relates to my work, or want to stay up on what a particular person is doing, the first place I search to connect with someone is Twitter. Then I search for them on LinkedIn, Facebook, etc.
3. Personal Branding
Thanks to the growth and understood added value social media provides, personal branding has become a necessary way to prove your credibility and proficiency in the professional world. Job Titles matter less and instead, Google search results are what set people apart. Search any professional on Twitter and you’ll be able to discern what each specializes in, what they’re passionate about and if they’re a person you’d like to be connected with. For example, during my internship with Livio, I was able to distinguish myself as social media savvy and enthusiastic soon-to-be college grad through my tweets, check-ins and even my blog posts. How does this help me in my career in public relations? It turns out that recruiters and reporters are using social media to learn about and contact me as much as I’m using it to learn about and talk to them. The more information I can offer, the better.
Many industries use social media and find it extremely useful and beneficial. It is the PR industry, though, that will continue to integrate social media into its job descriptions. It is the PR professionals that will be the ones successfully progressing the brands they work for and the relationships that coincide.
Follow me on Twitter @LSzatkowski and connect with me on LinkedIn http://www.linkedin.com/in/lauraszatkowski.