This year has started off fast and furious at Cookerly, with exciting new accounts (news coming soon!) and expanded work scopes for existing clients. I’ve been happily developing plans for clients who are ready to take their social media tactics to the next level; and most importantly, showing them how these tactics integrate into their overall communications program.
So the $50,000 question, “Who owns social media?”, remains top of mind for me – as it does for many, including clients. The reality is no marketer “owns” social media – the user is the owner. Better questions include: Who should drive the public dialogue that comes from your business or organization? Who is best tasked with identifying which social media channels you should use, and why? It’s an exciting space with a lot of possibilities – of course marketers across the spectrum want to play in the sandbox. I can’t blame them. But again and again, I keep coming back to the fact that social media is best suited to PR.
Here are my top five reasons:
- Social Media Are News Channels: There’s simply no such thing as “traditional” or “mainstream media” anymore. National, local and trade media are using Twitter, blogs, Facebook and more. The core skill of traditional PR agencies is managing media relationships to drive awareness, build brands, make sales and change behavior. Today, it’s close to impossible to implement an effective media relations plan without including social media.
- Social Media Is Earned Media: A variation on the media relations point above was best said in a Tweet I read yesterday: “Digital media buys online coverage. Social media earns it.” I don’t know who said it, but credit to @Aerocles @SBoSM for sending it out. Earned media is the domain of PR.
- Content is a Core Skill of PR: A Journalistics post today really framed this point well: Content-rich communications – from whitepapers to byline articles to speeches – are where PR practitioners excel. Social media is a content-rich medium. How we distribute information has changed, but PR remains the best arena for the creation of organizational content.
- Sales Don’t Sell Here: Advertising messaging is simply quite different than PR content. Even with the same goals in mind, the way the message is written and delivered is different, as it should be. But on the social Web, hard sales messaging won’t work. The fact is, PR has been speaking on its clients’ behalves forever – pitching reporters, developing community partnerships, managing reputations, soliciting speaking engagements and writing speeches and presentations. We’ve been having two-way dialogue off-line; we’re ready to take it online.
- Streamlining Saves Money: Great ideas can come from many sources or agencies, but there needs to be a lead horse in the race. A single lead agency, in the end, saves time and money: cross-agency coordination time is reduced, media measurement is combined, messaging is consistent, information distribution is coordinated and more.
I’m certain this won’t be the last blog post on this topic – the debate rages on. But for now, we’ll continue to do good work on our clients’ behalf – online, offline, everywhere. What do you think? Can social media have multiple agency owners, or is there one discipline that should take the lead?