There’s a fascinating debate going on in the PR world right now over this New York Times article, “Spinning the Web: P.R. in Silicon Valley,” and a subsequent blog post by PR/Social Media guru, Brian Solis, “PR Does Not Stand for Press Release: Equalizing Spikes and Valleys.”
I often turn to Social Media experts like Solis, who I tend to find on Twitter (@briansolis), for ideas and inspiration about how we at San Diego State are approaching our new media efforts. And this is no exception. Our philosophy is quite similar to what he explains here.
In the Times article, the author, Claire Cain Miller, writes that PR is basically about publicity for an event or a milestone and what’s really changing is that PR professionals are spreading their messages to influentials, not just journalists. But Solis points out that Public Relations is really evolving into much more than that. It’s becoming a powerful way to build, communicate with and empower your audiences, be they “influentials” or just someone who’s really interested in what you have to say. That’s what we’re trying to do at SDSU.
P.R. stands for Public Relations and therefore begets relationships with the greater communities of influencers and users who can help extend the story, intentions, value, and sentiment as a means of driving awareness, building communities, and empowering advocates over time.
The way we use Twitter and Facebook and LinkedIn, etc. at SDSU is by engaging our audiences as though they are SDSU ambassadors. We talk to them, listen to them, share news, events and information with them. Social Media truly is a grassroots approach to public relations, albeit on line.
Getting a story in the New York Times is a great door opener to conversations about SDSU. And when there is news to report, press releases are still a tactic to incorporate. I’ve written here before about social media not replacing traditional media. But what it is doing is changing the definition of a public relations professional.
The true value of new Public Relations is to do all of these things, but also build communities of power users who will extend the story across multiple networks in order to reduce the delta between the spike of launch activity and the valley below once traffic subsides.
PR Pros have to be Relationship Professionals. I’ve heard skeptics question why we would focus our efforts on reaching out to individual users on Twitter or Facebook, rather than shoot for the biggest bang for the buck. But that’s exactly what social media is. It’s about relationships. It’s about getting back to communicating with people on a one-to-one basis, gaining their trust and encouraging them to help you spread your message.
The new public relations landscape requires a change in the way we think about media relations, the importance we put on bloggers and the credibility we give to the power of a retweet. We constantly monitor conversations on Twitter about SDSU. When someone says they are excited that they got accepted, we get excited and we congratulate them. Building an online community of SDSU ambassadors one Tweet at a time.