Confessions of a Facebook addict


This is an article by Clare Thomas.
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As I come closer towards completing my public relations degree and begin looking at my career options, I am becoming increasingly confused.  In just three short years since starting my course, the landscape of public relations has changed dramatically.
When I started on my path towards PR stardom, I decided which sector I would like to work in, be it public or private, which industry I could flourish in and which discipline would suit me best (for your information, I decided I was going to become a PR officer for a big fashion house – too much trashy American TV I think) However the phenomenal rise of social media has presented a whole host of new, and sometimes confusing, job roles.  For example when looking at the job section of PR week, I came across vacancies for; Head of Social Media, SEO officer, Online PR Officer, Digital Media Executive and many many more.
As more and more job titles like these pop up, I am starting to question my future – surely with so many new roles being created and so much emphasis being heaped on social media, this is a road I should venture down.  It’s quite scary however, as social media is not something that has been taught during my degree due to it’s tender age, and I’m not quite sure where the new skills required for these roles come from, is my Facebook addiction enough to make me digitally savvy?  And what exactly is digital PR anyway?
What is Digital PR?
The internet has created a new playing field where PR is concerned and has begun the ‘traditional PR vs. digital PR’ war.  But what exactly is digital PR? And how does it differ to traditional PR? And with the rise of this imposter, is traditional PR as we know it going to die a death?
Business Week describe digital media as, ‘the practice of leveraging online media, search and the social web as channels of communication, engagement and influence.’
Basically this means the use of blogs, news sites, social media and SEO for PR purposes as opposed to the traditional off line methods.
To compare digital to traditional PR, take the example of the press release. As you most likely know, offline, a press release would be written aimed towards the print media.  It is a body of text, no longer that a page, two at most, usually with an image attached and a quote from the director.
However, in comparison, an online release would have key words integrated into it in order to optimise its results in search engines and would be likely to contain the following
>Contact information prominently displayed up top.
> A list of basic facts.
> A series of quotes.
> Company logos and photo headshots.
> Related audio or video.
> Social bookmarking or sharing links to sites such as Digg and del.icio.us.
> RSS feeds.
> Comments.
Traditional PR, although in an ideal world would like to profess to use the two-way system of communication, is usually a one-way affair, with the focus being on securing coverage in print based publications such as newspapers and magazines, articles in trade publications and periodicals, carefully constructed interviews and press conferences. While digital PR uses online channels to enhance two-way communication in order to make the brand more trustworthy and therefore increase their reputation.  Digital PR is also much more reactive than traditional PR, as the immediacy of social platforms allows organisations to respond to stakeholders.  For example on New Look’s Facebook Fan Page, fans are responded to in a very short amount of time, New Look are able to communicate directly with a customer if they are unhappy with something and therefore possibly resolve any problems before they becomes an issue.
New Look’s Fan Page
It is clear to see that digital PR is incredibly important and to ignore a platform that allows organisations to partake in two-way communication with their stakeholders, would be silly to say the least – even if an organisation has no presence in the digital world, this will not stop them being talked about – however I don’t think traditional PR should be forgotten about completely, after all isn’t digital PR simply traditional PR but on a digital platform?  Digital PR requires the same skills as its traditional counterpart, such as excellent writing that is news worthy and enhances the reputation of the organisation.  Sure, in the digital world the press release may come with embedded links and sound bites but the principle is fundamentally the same.
Does digital PR mean the death of traditional PR
But where does digital PR fit in, is it going to replace traditional PR?
According to a PR Week survey, 60% of agencies have a digital department and 59% have a head of digital or similar post.  Several agencies described themselves as wholly digital.  While 83% of clients request digital to form part of their PR activity, only 13.5% of agencies use a third party agency for digital work.
I personally don’t envisage digital PR replacing traditional PR, but rather enhancing it.  I see social media as the biggest and most exciting change to the PR profession that there has ever been and I think agencies need to embrace it.  As the PR Week survey showed, agencies aren’t employing third party agencies to do digital work; rather they are evolving their existing expertise to move into this new area.  Digital PR shouldn’t be seen as something to replace PR but as something to expand on the public relations we already know.  So as the digital boom continues and new and exciting jobs are being created, I am going to cram as much digital knowledge in to my final-year-overworked-brain as possible.  Hopefully I can then evolve into the digital aware PR professional that the future is undoubtedly going to demand, and of course this is all good news for my Facebook addiction….

As I come closer towards completing my public relations degree and begin looking at my career options, I am becoming increasingly confused.  In just three short years since starting my course, the landscape of public relations has changed dramatically.

When I started on my path towards PR stardom, I had to decide which sector I would like to work in – public or private – which industry I could flourish in and which discipline would suit me best. (For your information, I decided I was going to become a PR officer for a big fashion house – too much trashy American TV I think.)

However the phenomenal rise of social media has presented a whole host of new, and sometimes confusing, job roles. For example when looking at the job section of PR week, I came across vacancies for: Head of Social Media, SEO officer, Online PR Officer, Digital Media Executive and many many more.

As more and more job titles like these pop up, I am starting to question my future – surely with so many new roles being created and so much emphasis being placed on social media, this is a road I should venture down.  It’s quite scary however, as social media is not something that has been taught during my degree due to its tender age, and I’m not quite sure where the new skills required for these roles come from. Is my Facebook addiction enough to make me digitally savvy?  And what exactly is digital PR anyway?

What is Digital PR?

The internet has created a new playing field where PR is concerned and has initiated a ‘traditional PR vs. digital PR’ war.  But what exactly is digital PR and how does it differ to traditional PR? And with the rise of this imposter, is traditional PR as we know it going to die a death?

BusinessWeek describes digital media as, ‘the practice of leveraging online media, search and the social web as channels of communication, engagement and influence.’

Basically this means the use of blogs, news sites, social media and SEO for PR purposes as opposed to the traditional off line methods.

To compare digital to traditional PR, take the example of the press release. As you most likely know, offline a press release would be written primarily for the print media.  It is a body of text, no longer that a page, two at most, usually with an image attached and a quote from the director.

However, in comparison, an online social media release would have keywords integrated into it in order to optimise its results in search engines and would be likely to contain the following:

  • Contact information prominently displayed up top.
  • A list of basic facts.
  • A series of quotes.
  • Company logos and photo headshots.
  • Related audio or video.
  • Social bookmarking or sharing links to sites such as Digg and del.icio.us.
  • RSS feeds.
  • Comments.

Traditional PR professed to use the two-way system of communication but is usually a one-way affair with the focus being on securing coverage in print publications such as newspapers and magazines.

New Look

New Look's Facebook fan page

Digital PR uses online channels to enhance two-way communication in order to make the brand more trustworthy and therefore increase its reputation.

Digital PR is also much more reactive than traditional PR, as the immediacy of social platforms allows organisations to respond to stakeholders.

For example on New Look’s Facebook Fan Page,  New Look is able to communicate directly with a customer if they are unhappy with something and therefore possibly resolve a problem before it becomes an issue.

It is clear that digital PR is important and to ignore a platform that allows organisations to partake in two-way communication with their stakeholders would be silly to say the least.

Even if an organisation has no presence in the digital world, this will not stop them being talked about.

However, I don’t think traditional PR should be forgotten about completely, after all isn’t digital PR simply traditional PR but on a digital platform?  Digital PR requires the same skills as its traditional counterpart, such as excellent writing that is newsworthy and enhances the reputation of the organisation.  Sure, in the digital world the press release may come with embedded links and sound bites but the principle is fundamentally the same.

Does digital mean the death of traditional PR?

According to a PR Week survey, 60% of agencies have a digital department and 59% have a head of digital or similar post.  Several agencies described themselves as wholly digital.  While 83% of clients request digital as part of their PR activity, only 13.5% of agencies use a third party agency for digital work.

I personally don’t envisage digital PR replacing traditional PR, but rather enhancing it.  I see social media as the biggest and most exciting change to the PR profession that there has ever been and I think agencies need to embrace it.  As the PR Week survey showed, agencies aren’t employing third party agencies to do digital work; rather they are evolving their existing expertise to move into this new area.  Digital PR shouldn’t be seen as something to replace PR but as something to expand on the public relations we already know.

So as the digital boom continues and new and exciting jobs are being created, I am going to cram as much digital knowledge in to my final-year-overworked-brain as possible.  Hopefully I can then evolve into the digitally-aware PR professional that the future is undoubtedly going to demand. Of course, this is good news for my Facebook addiction too…

Comments

  1. Samantha Zinner says:

    I think digital media has become an integral part of operating in today’s business world, especially for the retail and hospitality industries. All 3 of my part time jobs (yeah I know, I’m a glutton for punishment) are currently launching campaigns to join people up to their Facebook groups, and the bottleshop is also focusing on creating an email database of wine buyers in order to establish a “wine club”. This database will allow them to encourage return business and pave the way for consistent two way communication.
    I believe that the database will be far more succesful as a communication tool than the Facebook groups – just because the Facebook environment is so diluted with random stuff that it’s use as a networking tool has been diminished. But it is still important for businesses to have a presence on Facebook, as the site’s users are such a massive, diverse cross-section of society that it would be silly not to.
    Great post Clare!

  2. Good blog you have got here.. Its hard to find good quality writing like yours nowadays.
    I honestly appreciate people like you! Take care!!

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