Sunday, May 1, 2011

PR and Marketing – the race to Social Media Maturity

In the old days… if you were in advertising you made commercials (or told people you did, when really you made posters for bus shelters or newspaper adverts), if you were in marketing you bought TV slots (or space in shelters and the press) and if you were in PR you spoke to journalists or created events (hopefully not in bus shelters).

Basically, everyone knew what they were doing and everyone had their own budgets and; responsibilities to worry about. Yes sure, occasionally the client would want a fancy ‘integrated’ approach, which generally meant every respective agency would rock up at the client’s offices at the same time and try to pretend they both understood and wanted to get along with each other.

Note: As we all know, in an integrated campaign everyone tried to steal each other budgets, but only the clever ones managed this (usually by merging with another agency).

But now those rules have changed.

As you may have seen from my posts, the roles of PR and Marketing have now blurred so much that both agencies and clients cannot differentiate between them. Digital communications in the shape of: search engine marketing, social media listening & engagement and their like are now part of the digital toolbox that can be used by all disciplines. What was once a pure marketing campaign is now typicsally also a part PR one and also has a direct input on the client's online business (e.g. conversion on an ecommerce website).

PR has also grown up to embrace the digital techniques that were once the domain of the geek. Perhaps because the technology has become easier, but also because the agencies and clients have both become more acceptable of digital methods… as they invariably consumers of it as well. PR has now evolved from a producer of one way information (e.g. press releases) to become far more about developing a two-way dialogue in the larger market and about building relationships with a complex range of stakeholders and influencers.

What is clear is that both disciplines have now learnt, to a lesser or greater extent, to understand and use the wide range of tools available, especially Social Media… as this is where the collective client mind and budgets are right now.
  • Both are now competing in the same arena.
  • Both are now in the same space race to build a better Social Media offering as quickly as they can.
  • Both are prone to calling themselves experts or guru’s as way of trying to prove that their growing knowledge is better than anyone else.
  • Both are trying to show their level of maturity in an immature market
However, everyone needs to be aware that there are no Social Media gurus. Yes, that's right, in a world where everything as so new and is changing & growing in depth every day, there are no real experts in the subject..... merely those who have perhaps days, weeks or maybe just months worth of experience more than those who are just learning about this stuff.

So if you work for an agency that is offering Social Media skills or are a client looking to hire someone to look after this complex area... consider the background of these individuals (e.g. are they from a decent marketing and or PR background) and understand just how mature are they in this market.
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