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Dear Council of PR Professionals, I beg to differ

October 29, 2008

This article was forwarded to me by a colleague at my agency. The article is an opinion of Mike Hollywood, Director of New Media, Cone. After a couple of paragraphs in which he explains that clients are going to want social media from their agencies, he specified which agency he meant:

“No, the social media strategy is best left up to the PR agency.”

The Firm Voice, where this article appears, is a “Publication from the Council of Public Relations firms”. So it’s no surprise that this would be the sentiment with which I disagree.

If I was to write something in the Association of Copywriters turned Social Media Strategists, I might be inclined to write:

“No, the social media strategy is best left up to the ad agency.”

But I would disagree with that as well, even though I am a copywriter turned Social Media Strategist, so I clearly have a bias.

But, here’s the argument (again, as I’ve had before on this blog).

Social Media is a marketing tool in the same way that Billboards, TV spots and press releases are marketing tools. It’s not the realm of one branch, in the same way that a Billboard isn’t.

And yet, the creation of the content might call upon someone who is more used to creating content for consumers. Let me explain.

Imagine that the social media tool you plan to use is Digg. There have been precious few Press Releases get Dugg. One can add little Digg logos to the bottom of a presser and pretend that it’s social media optimized, but something that is truly social media optimized is created for the express purpose of getting passed around (just don’t ever have the goal of ‘going viral’).

The thing created is the thing responsible for being shared. Now, this isn’t to say that a PR person can’t create a piece of content that will speak to individual consumers in a manner that will get it passed around. What I’m saying is that it’s not best left exclusively up to them. Creative departments have a lot of experience writing content that is meant to speak to individual consumers.

Perhaps the better answer is this one:

“No, the social media strategy is best left up to the full-service agency.”

It’s a tool that doesn’t really fit. It’s not just interactive, it’s not just public relations, and it’s not just brand. It’s all of them (or in some cases, none of them — not every brand is your BFF).

Clients will need an agency that isn’t fighting for the dollars. An agency that is one-stop shopping, has in house social media dudes, PR peeps, and creative folks that get social media is a tool to be used when appropriate.

And yes, I happen to know an agency that fits the bill since they pay my bills.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. October 29, 2008 4:08 pm

    Differ has 2 f’s.🙂

  2. October 29, 2008 4:47 pm

    Thanks. Sometimes I rush to print.

  3. October 30, 2008 8:28 am

    I think social media media strategy should be handled by whoever really gets it — and knows how to connect the dots back to the business strategy.

    Maybe its’ not even the responsibility of an agency….

  4. October 30, 2008 9:32 am

    @Lois: don’t tell the agencies who have the client that. but you’re right, some clients are going to so this internally because they think no one gets it.

    You’re right, it’s up to people to prove they get it.

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