Putting down the swords…

Shaking Hands

Image by Nicola Corboy via Flickr

There is a strong divide going on right now in social media, the divide between marketers and public relations. People need to understand that this is not just a company problem, this is an industry problem.

I am an educated marketer.  And  marketing, by definition, is “the process by which companies determine what products or services may be of interest to customers, and the strategy to use in sales, communications and business development. It generates the strategy that underlies sales techniques, business communication, and business developments. It is an integrated process through which companies build strong customer relationships and create value for their customers and for themselves”

I am not an educated public relations specialist. Public relations, by definition, is “the practice of managing communication between an organization and its publics” 

Organically, you would expect social media to live with PR. These people live & breathe communication. It is their love just as marketing is mine. The problem lies in our very different definitions of communications and how social media can be used as a platform. In nature, social media is a platform for communication. Talking to people who love your brand, being able to put out messages and announce things. It makes sense for public  relations to naturally gravitate towards “owning” social media.

Marketers, however, see things from a different perspective. We, by nature, see social media as another marketing platform. The debate is still out who has the better intentions on this front. While marketing is traditionally seen as the strategy behind sales (which, by definition, is true) it really is so much more than that. Marketing Research is one of our most valuable and powerful tools. We measure success all the time. There are analytic’s behind everything we do. Nothing can be done on our end without being able to prove that it succeeded or it failed, and why. We understand our customers.

Now, while marketing and public relations are in a tug-of-war of sorts over ownership of social media, everyone seems to forget one thing. There should be no ownership of it. Point. Blank. Period. In organizations that are built on departments and have succeeded like this for decades; companies automatically silo. They divide and conquer, because that is what is efficient. What about customer support agents? What about creative services? What about all of the departments that have more intellectual capital than the marketing and PR departments combined? When we silo, we lose sight of the bigger picture.

Social media is more than just the efforts of your marketing departments, or your communications department. We’re losing sight of the value of the platform as a whole. Social media is more than an outlet for a press release, more than an outlet for your marketing campaign. This is an outlet for our brands to shine, to put customers first. To listen to them, understand them, to whisper – instead of shout. Humanize your brand, but start with your people.

No longer should their live an argument where we yell at one another, criticize others based on our own personal biases. Let’s work together to make social media a skill, that every employee in your organization can master. If we want to be better marketers, better communicators, better people; let’s put down our swords & give the microphone to the people who matter most, our people.



One comment

  1. Rose · June 20, 2011

    Public relations is overly concerned about protecting turf. Most p.r.s receive not training in the field and are chosen for their personalities. They live and die through their insecurities so they try to kill anything that threatens them.

    PR is not a science; it’s an art. Unlike social media, it can’t be measured. This adds to the insecurity.

    Times have changed, but p.r. methods remain stagnant.

    In my opinion, the p.r. professional should go the way of the secretary.

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