The default position lately seems to be that social media is being grasped best by PR agencies, and a lot of PR agencies are winning social media business. As a former PR agency person who’s also worked in a social media shop, I’d agree that there are a lot of reasons that PR firms should win the social agency wars. But there are a lot of strikes against them too. Others have recently expounded on why social belongs in PR; I’m going to take the other side and outline where I feel PR is falling short and must catch up in order to win and deliver on integrated social media campaigns.
And there’s no question that there are costs for social. While some PR agencies continue to tell clients that social is “earned” media, it really isn’t, anymore. Most bloggers expect some form of compensation when they market brands, products or services. There is a cost to acquiring fans in Facebook. It takes time to drive a Twitter following. And creating content to fuel social media channels can be costly if done well. If PR is going to continue to gain ground in social, they must be ready to create, pitch and win budgets that go well beyond the traditional PR pervue.
But going back to budgets for a moment, most PR people who won’t be able to create an appropriate ad budget, let alone have the knowledge to sell it in and execute on it. As with technology, PR firms may not need to develop ad buying capabilities in house, but they will need people who know enough about it to be good partners to people who do, and, again, execs who can sound smart in front of the client and get social ads sold in.
The bottom line: though PR seems to have the creative and storytelling capabilities that fuel a lot of what social is, most firms lack skillsets that they need to be able to deliver an integrated social media approach. This will keep some firms hopping for a while until they figure out how to plug the holes, or else they’ll just decide not to play in the social media arena.
Is your PR firm plugging the social media knowledge gaps or abdicating to others? Are you frustrated or elated at the direction this is going? The comments are yours.
This post was originally written for Social Media Explorer.
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