Public relations and social media: Heading to a merge

By: Aviad Yitshak

Social media became a must platform for all. This is a fact. Even organizations whose activities on social media are not clear cut, for instance, B2Bs whose direct target audience are not private consumers, are vigorously uploading posts, producing movies and creating hashtags, with the understanding that it’s all about the people, and the people are active on Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and LinkedIn.

Almost naturally, quite a few social media service companies that sprung up here (or social agencies or new media experts) were supposed to respond to the need to take part in the social media realm.

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The question is, did this need stem from a demand and supply gap that was quickly filled by agencies and experts? Or was there always another more logical alternative based on a stable and operational media infrastructure already in existence – one that already knows the client’s content world very well. Did the bright lights of innovation simply blind us from recognizing it?

Well it is and always was the public relations agency.

No I am not pulling the blinds down on a whole branch that captured its rightful place. In the end, in my opinion, those agencies (or at least the good ones) will undergo a logical and practical process and will integrate into public relations agencies: It will represent a natural merge of content with a long standing in-depth client relationship and the ability to broadcast to distinct audiences.

Social media is still a new field. It is still developing, evolving and changing. A “Social Media expert” is a position that advanced independently way too quickly during the last few years. There are those that are better and worse. Unfortunately the market lacks standards that resulted from client’s lack of understanding (hysterical pursuit of likes as opposed to creating buzz and communities, for instance), however eventually clients will seek alignment and will demand standardization.

In this situation, the public relations agencies will be the solution. Not everyone, by the way, but those that will adopt the right professional skills, will hire the right people and will learn to differentiate between a press release and a Facebook post. And it’s not like they don’t have the potential to learn, on the contrary, during the past two decades they have been adapting to media revolutions and new channels. Social Media, as another media, is to a certain extent the next evolutionary stage.

Sure, we are talking about a different media channel, one that demands professional know how and still, public relations agencies know how to adapt the right message to the right media, to comment, engage, announce and create a conversation for the client. They understand the client inside out, including their weaknesses and strengths and tone. Think of the potential of combining the PR consultant’s expertise with that of a new media expert, that know how to create the right message during high and low tide periods. They know how to synchronize and aim at the right audience, without overloading the messaging, or creating conflicting and confusing ones.

The depth and breadth of knowledge are vital elements. Naturally, due the lack of time, lack of understanding and cost saving needs, social media agencies understanding of client’s content needs are restricted. This is a source of shortcomings, in particular at a time when the client does not distinguish between a phone conversation and a Facebook chat. Therefore the consolidation of marketing communication and social operations through one supplier is natural. The deliverables and functionalities supplied by varied social media suppliers are important, but they are not enough to serve as a standalone solution. Public relations agencies that found a way to galvanize these capabilities, and synergize the goals and messages – will be the ones to lead social media to the next level.

Aviad Yitshak -Sade is a media relations and digital media consultant at Allmedia public relations.

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