We hear so much about social media these days. It costs nothing to sign up for Twitter and Facebook, among others. We have the freedom to promote ourselves, our products and services, almost instantly.
So do we still need to hire public relations firms? Technology reporter Amber MacArthur wrote a thought-provoking column in The Globe & Mail asking whether public relations is still relevant at a time when social media is becoming an increasingly popular way to distribute information to the media, bloggers and consumers.
Is social media a threat to traditional PR firms? Really, I see the social media phenomenon as an incredible opportunity for PR firms. Most business owners do not have the time and know-how to tweet and blog all day. It seems logical that these functions fall into the public relations domain.
Now is the time for PR professionals to get creative and active in the digital networking space. Social media requires many of the same talents as PR: writing engaging copy, targeting the appropriate audiences, publicizing products, and making the most out of newsworthy activities.
Social media needs to be integrated in every public relations campaign. Whether the program calls for a press release, an article, or event, social media is one more avenue to take that piece of news or story angle and distribute it as effectively as possible. We have to view social media, such as Twitter and Facebook, as additional media outlets that we can use to spike interest about our clients and their work.
As publicists and story tellers, this is a time for PR agencies to grasp the opportunity to become essential players in the social media ecosystem, by advancing our craft for an ever changing world.