Who Owns Your Social Engagement?


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teen-videogame1Public relations. Marketing. Advertising. Legal. The CEO’s nephew who’s interning for a summer and (you think) spending most of his time reading about the latest version of Grand Theft Auto.

At some point, you will be tempted to put one of these entities in charge of your company’s social media presence. And unless one of them has undergone a radical reformation, “none of the above” might be the only appropriate answer.

Of course my first instinct is to argue passionately for the natural relationship between social media and public relations; unlike any other department you might have, PR is used to communicating not at but with people on your behalf, crafting stories, answering questions, and generating attention that has to be earned rather than paid for. But, as two thoughts on PR reminded me late last week, being in the right category doesn’t guarantee a perfect fit. A shoe — not a hat — is what goes on your foot, but that doesn’t make Manolo Blahniks the right choice for a marathon.

And the fact is that a certain school of PR — some would say the traditional one — at least has a reputation to live down when it comes to straightforward communication. As Liana Evans put it in Social Media Marketing (Que Publishing: 2010), “Public relations is notoriously about control and spin.” Nah, I thought, that’s just a marketer talking. But then a PR professional that I follow tweeted something like the following question. (I’d like to quote it verbatim, but the original tweet has been, perhaps wisely, deleted.) “Your client’s social media accounts are flooded w/complaints. What cool campaign would you launch in response?” A clever shibboleth? Or genuine PR perspective?

I’m not sure, but I do know that any company looking for social media guidance should ask that same question — and immediately scrap anyone who actually supplies ideas for a “cool” campaign. PR’s potential leg up in social media isn’t the result of years of experience in obfuscation, and I don’t believe that artful miscommunication is what truly talented and visionary (or aspiring to be visionary) PR people do. To use the founding terminology of this blog, White Hat PR is about crafting and communicating a real story — your story with your customers. That’s the future of public relations. Just so happens to be the future of business in social media, too.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Kate Schackai
Kate combines a technical understanding of web 2.0 with classic PR savvy, resulting in online communications that both humans and Google love. She joins Crawford from WordPress development firm TCWebsite, where she worked in online marketing and search engine optimization.


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