What does the future of Public Relations behold?

 
With social media changing so quickly these days it can often be a challenge to keep up. Social Media can also be an effective tool to keep up with real time news at our desposal.  Not only do we have to keep up, but we have to be smart and not “Tweet” rashly.  Whether you are in the public relations field or not, social media can affect customer service and demographics in a big way. The article below brings up many great points on this and the future of PR and how social media has become a game changer.

The future of PR: 5 predictions from eBay and Edelman

By Michael Sebastian | Posted: March 28, 2011
The evolution of social media continues to prompt the question: What will the future of PR look like?

At South By Southwest this year, Edelman Digital’s David Armano and eBay’s chief blogger Richard Brewer-Hay led a discussion titled, “Why PR’s future May Not Look Like PR.”

During the panel, five major trends emerged. Here they are:

1. PR will take place on a smaller scale.
Armano used the term “micro-interactions” to describe the types of communication touch-points that PR pros will likely need to focus on. Basically, we’ll be communicating on smaller scales; audience mindset won’t be as effective as individual mindset. The prominence of social media has created shorter attention spans and the idea that each statement or problem is worthy of real-time feedback.

2. PR and customer service—so happy together.
In some ways, customer service has always been a business practice related to PR, even though the two are usually managed separately. In a social media world—where bad customer service can become a PR nightmare—the two need to have a closer relationship, perhaps even exist in the same department. After all, consumers don’t care about the internal structure of your company; they just want someone to hear and respond to their complaint.

3. Discussions will be more important than demographics. Marketers usually rely on demographics. This is not a worthwhile strategy for public relations. In the future, PR will live among smaller, topic-based discussion groups and in niche communities. Communities will thrive around an interest, not a circumstance.

4. PR will be more proactive. The PR department is often viewed as the place where messages are crafted to deal with a crisis: It addresses concerns after a customer has brought it to light and responds to media inquiries. Over time, this system largely contributed to the reputation that PR is “spin.” In the future, PR pros will need to be more proactive when shaping the way people think about their brands. They will have to influence the way people perceive the company by not only participating in discussions, but leading them as well. That means community management duties will move toward PR and away from product teams.

5. Social media training is essential. During the panel, Armano said, “Don’t be stupid, but don’t be scared. We’re all one tweet away from losing our jobs.” This doesn’t mean PR pros are all ticking time bombs on social media. Instead, Armano is saying that social media means taking more chances than many traditional techniques. That means training will be key for organizations, Brewer-Hay added. Management must have guidelines for social media—guidelines that are flexible. Technology and best practices change so quickly that PR pros need to adapt fast and not feel handcuffed to a policy, so long as they’re exercising sound judgment. Freedom is crucial in today’s media world, in which news cycles are 5 to 10 minutes.

Becky Johns is a PR professional in Chicago. A version of this post first appeared on Becky Johns’ blog.

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About SilverStrategy

SilverStrategy is a Washington, D.C. based public relations and public affairs firm. We assist clients with forward-thinking campaigns and use strategic planning in order to gain exposure and achieve our clients’ goals. We provide: - Media Consulting and Training - Strategic Communications - Business Development - Event Planning - Fundraising - Image Branding and - Marketing campaigns for clients across all industries. Utilizing our unique edge, we converge our many resources within the press, business and non-profit industries to build our clients’ publicity. Bottom line: we create new opportunities for growth and partnerships.
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