Public Relations: I don’t know who you are anymore!

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.

~Brian Solis

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.


Filed under New Media, Uncategorized

2 responses to “Public Relations: I don’t know who you are anymore!

  1. Interesting the debate and discussion about the changing definition of PR. It’s still about relationships.

    I’m now PR chair for a local Toastmasters chapter and it’s been suggested we get on Facebook to help promote the club. Is there a simple guide out there for creating a FB page for non-profits? Also, would you suggest we get on Twitter? Most of our “news” occurs once a week at our meetings.


    • blockgreg

      There is no simple solution, because things change so quickly, evolve so rapidly. if you are looking to communicate more effectively within the club, a Facebook Group might be the way. If you are looking to expand the awareness of the club, Twitter could be a good tool, so long as you have things that you are sharing with the Twittersphere that may be of interest to people outside of your group.

      Basic Rule: Facebook is to communicate with people you know, Twitter is to communicate with people you hope to know.

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