Yesterday, I read a great post by Jeremy Porter at Journalistics on how media relations will get easier in 2010. The consistent thread – no surprise – is that social media and social media tools will play a large role in this positive turn. It got me thinking about how social media has changed the way I do my job. The most obvious fact is that as director of social media, I have to be well entrenched in social networks, applications, measurement tools – and most importantly, strategy and integration into our clients’ overall marketing programs. Beyond that, as a day-to-day practitioner of PR, what does social media do for me? There are five reasons I think it makes me better at my job:
- Real-time research: This is easily #1. Instead of wondering if/what commuters and employer Partners of The Clean Air Campaign think about the organization, or waiting for annual (or more seldom) research to tell me about barriers or benefits to commute alternatives, I only have to turn to Twitter. Or check out the Facebook Page wall. No, it doesn’t replace well-done surveys and focus groups, but the insights there do challenge me to think about how marketing efforts are working, refine ideas, gauge interest and more.
- More media coverage: Not to brag, but this agency is great at media relations. We know effective storytelling is the key to success, and we are relentless at getting results. And being good at telling stories – in any format – helped us easily make the transition to garnering coverage via social media. Good tweets with good content landed us online and offline exposure the RideSmart Ridin’ video. With 70 percent of journalists using social media, we get insights into stories in the works, which gives us the chance to provide client sources where appropriate. And I simply just get to see more of their buzz and story development going on in the areas I work which in turn fuels pitching ideas.
- Professional development: I love my Google Reader, but even with that, I don’t have time to read every story, every day. By following some top PR and social media folks in the field, I’m able to see some of the industry news – and recommendations – from people whose opinions I respect. I’ve found new measurement tools that I now use for client programs, heard about media changes and closures, and probably saved my clients money by being able to learn from others about tools that might not have worked.
- Connections: It is true that online can’t replace face to face for connecting with people, and networking is essential to success in the professional services arena. But social media has allowed me to make connections that I simply wouldn’t have in the “real” world because of geography, office hours and time. I’ve made connections not only for the agency but also for clients – from potential sponsors to effective partnerships and community involvement opportunities.
- Keeps me on my toes: My personal belief is that those that thrive in an agency setting have a natural tendency toward being an information junkie, and to some extent, toward short attention spans. Our tasks and clients are varied, and, if we’re lucky, they challenge us and teach us new things, feeding the ravenous learner in all of us. Social media brings information and tools to me faster than ever before, making no room for complacency. And that’s a good thing for me and my clients.
What about you? Is social media making your professional life better… or not?