The PRSA International Conference in Washington D.C. ended yesterday, and one of the most interesting things to my mind is that the 3 top takeaways prove themselves in my ability to write this article at all: I didn’t go to the conference.

While other Meltwater folks did go, I was here in San Francisco and used our social listening tool to stay on top of Twitter, and our news monitoring tool as a listening supplement.  Fortunately, modern PR folks are both wired and prone to sharing great information.

There were some very exciting (and some controversial) topics being deliberated this year: from big money in Washington politics to Big Data, the keynotes and discussions caused some great social chatter.  Here are the top three takeaways:

1. Social Business is Part of PR – and Here to Stay

In Stephen Waddington’s keynote “Social Business is the Future of PR,” he said: “Organizations are moving beyond the tactical use of social media to embed social technologies into their business processes that enable communication, collaboration and insight into customer, employee, supplier and partner behavior. …it is impacting every area of organizational design. It’s the future of public relations.”

It was great to hear his perspective; this particular trend is one we talked about in a previous article (Social Media PR trends).  But Stephen took it a step further than words with a great slide that was tweeted out:

 

 

2.  Paid, Owned & Earned Media Interplay to Amplify Each Other

What we’re all striving for is earned media.  To that end, when content on our owned media gets attention (thus giving us a signal that it’s resonating), we should use paid media to promote that content so that it has a better chance of earning media and amplifying our message.  (For more on why this is so powerful, check out this article on earned social media & brand advocacy.)

 

3. Metrics & Big Data Are the New Holy Grail

Big Data has everyone talking, and for good reason: the vast, chaotic communications ecosystem around us presents both an opportunity and a challenge to the modern marketer.  (For more on that and how to navigate it, check out this recent article on Big Data Marketing solutions.)

Kye Strance also talked about applying Big Data principles to getting hard metrics for PR by using IBM’s 4 V’s: Volume, Velocity, Variety and Veracity.  Volume: always getting enough data to back up our claims; Velocity: obtaining the data with the speed at which we need to keep up with the rate of the data coming in; Variety: getting a wide set of demographics included, so as to make the data most applicable; and Veracity: always having commitment to the correct and true data for the subject.

With that in mind, PR is no longer beholden to “impressions” as a the core KPI.  There are 5 metrics a PR person should track for success:

 

Engagement is definitely the holy grail of social marketing, to my mind – that’s how we earn the exponential possibility of free impressions and more engagement (read: earned media), and it’s the first step to brand advocacy.

These 3 PRSA International takeaways point to one clear path: public relations is social marketing, and social marketing is public relations.  For my part, I was probably most impressed that the manifestations of two converging disciplines + great monitoring tools enabled me to actually learn a thing or two without leaving the armchair.