Are PR And Social Media Merging Into One?

Alison Kessler
November 3, 2015

Publicists, take note: you all need new jobs.

As social media becomes an ever-larger part of a brand’s persona, traditional media relations with a dash of digital strategy is no longer cutting it. Until recently, a social media plan was often tacked onto a more traditional PR campaign to help boost its reach. Print publications have steadily been losing traction since 2006, which begs the question:

Why haven’t PR pros turned their attention (and their craft) to the form of media that can’t seem to slow downsocial?

The kiss seen round the world (on TV): Madonna and Britney kiss at the 2003 VMA’s, before social media was around to make it viral.

Well, some have and some haven’t. PR pros are quickly learning that to be relevant and effective in the digital age, there’s more to competency and professional success than traditional event planning and media relations. Technology has become a requirement of the skill set. And yet, so many of these “PR pros” are deficient in average computer understanding, much less that of web-based technologies and tools.

Being a master of your craft is more than just what your product looks like. To win in social media – much like public relations – you have to know who your audience is and where they devote their attention. It’s almost 2016. The attention is on social media.

As newsrooms change and resources shrink and people consume the news and information in new and different ways, they are far less reliant on traditional media outlets,” says Maureen Garrity, Principal at Maureen Garrity Communications. “The ongoing challenge, where social is a fantastic vehicle, is in finding ways to continually make the information relevant. With traditional media, we are often limited to one hit,” she continues.  “With social, we can create campaigns that allow information to live, evolve and grow and adjust in a way that allows us to connect more closely with people.”

When you’re challenged with developing an impactful campaign, it’s time to stop thinking of the social media component as a mere hashtag to throw on your Instagram pictures. The social media component should have a life of its own, that exists and makes an impact even without a typical real-life element.

Batkid takes Gotham by storm: over 12,000 people fill the streets of San Francisco after the Make-A-Wish Foundation best online casino used its social media platforms to urge citizens to cheer on Miles Scott.

The ALS Ice Bucket Challenge, Make a Wish’s Batkid takeover, the #LikeAGirl campaign – all campaigns that were social first and grabbed the world’s attention, not to mention gained unprecedented interest for each of these organizations. It’s impossible to imagine the most successful brands getting where they are today without an intensive social media presence. We here at ChatterBlast HQ know firsthand that even the most unlikely companies benefit from a strong digital component. Check out the PPA for some inspiration.

Social media and PR should always work hand-in-hand,” says Alex Mazza, Public Relations Manager for the Hersha Hospitality Group. “As an indispensable source for public relations professionals, social media provides invaluable feedback on clients as well as their competitors. It also acts as an extremely helpful research tool and the perfect platform to fully leverage press,” she says.

With the ever-changing media landscape, I would expect PR and social media to become even more fully integrated as time goes on. PR is about telling a great story and social media allows you to do that in an instant.”

So maybe I over exaggerated. Shocking. Publicists don’t necessarily need to find new jobs. They do need to build a new skill set: one that includes traditional and social media expertise. After all – if that next cool campaign happens and doesn’t go viral, who’s going to believe it happened anyway?


Are you a PR pro? What do you think about social media and its place in public relations? Sound off in the comments!