Sunday, May 22, 2011

Why PR needs to understand search and social media

Communications Convergence, a big term used by a few knowledgeable people to describe the gradual merging of the different roles done by communications professionals. As you will have seem from previous postings, I believe that the old roles of marketing and public relations are now so closely intertwined that they have become indistinguishable from each other. Awareness, interest, desire and action via digital channels are all now all part of a continuing path of online customer acquisition that defies traditional communication job roles.

Typically it has been the marketer (or marketeer, if you wish) that has been the more aggressive/assertive in online promotion areas… possibly fuelled by hard sales targets or other drivers. They were also the early adopters of social media... but as soon as consumers started asking questions back it became a problem for them.

But with existing of expertise of bringing together messages and audience (as well as being used to answering those difficult questions) PR and communications professionals are in just the right place to understand and utilise the new tools & methods of customer engagement and brand messaging…. that of online search and the social web

Ok, it is not a particularly revolutionary thing to say, but its fairly obvious that an understanding is needed of how search engines use content (notice I didn’t say “how search engines work”) and how to leverage the way that people connect with each other as well as brands & organisations. What is perhaps more challenging to those who have already got their heads around the previous two online tools, is the fact that search and social aren’t actually distinct functions, but two sides of the same arch that meet over the head of the PR pro sat underneath.

In my view the intersection of where Social Media and Search Engine Optimisation meet is the PR digital sweet spot. It’s this point that’s the true online communication convergence point. It is here that news meets searcher and where potential customer meets a shared audience with the same voice. It is therefore this point that the PR person must understand, adopt and learn to wield with all the effort and rigour that they have previously applied to their traditional role.
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