It’s a popular question and one that was recently discussed in depth at the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) Digital Impact conference held in New York City June 27th-28th.  How can public relations professionals better leverage social media to be more effective? We at Meltwater have been actively discussing this very question for years so we were excited to join the conversation. We had a great time meeting our peers and continuing the dialogue together.

If you’re not familiar with it, PRSA is the world’s largest organization of PR and communications professionals.  One objective of the conference was to explore how to succeed in PR given the ever-changing social media environment. With that, our goal was to provide concrete examples of how PR strategy and social media strategy have begun to blend and explore tangible tactics that PR professionals could use straight away.

How is Social Media Affecting PR Strategy?

Meltwater was honored to lead a session titled “Is PR Social or is Social PR?” Introduced by Joel York, Meltwater’s Executive Director of Marketing and Product, the presentation began with a discussion of the four PR disruptions of social media.  The consistency of the communication, the target audience, the reach of the channel, and the credibility of the source all vary between social media and PR and affect PR strategy.  Taken together, the media and the message are becoming mixed.

With a base knowledge of disrupters the discussion naturally turns to the convergence of PR and social media. Given the scale and influence of social media, should PR be considered a part of a broader social media marketing strategy, or should social media be considered a channel for PR strategy?  Our head of global PR, Marc Cowlin, and our head of social media content marketing, Leslie Nuccio, joined Joel to lead a tongue-in-cheek debate about the convergence of PR and social media. Marc and Leslie, longtime friends and co-workers, have been discussing this very subject for many years so they were ready for PRSA!

They discussed real-life examples of how PR and social media have worked together and where the lines between the two blur. They tackled crisis management, grassroots campaigns, and blogger outreach bringing up examples of integrated marketing campaigns and mainstream campaigns they ran together that blended PR strategy and social media marketing with success.

One Man’s PR Strategy is Another Man’s Social Media Tactic

When it’s time to act, who takes the lead: a PR professional or a social media manager? As the audience agreed, the best campaigns are the ones that blend social media and public relations together. The good news for PR professionals looking to leverage social media better is that many of the kinds of PR strategy that work for traditional media also work for social media.

Our team enjoyed the debate at PRSA Digital Impact so much that we’re going to go deeper into the topic in an upcoming blog series and at the PRSA International Conference this October 26th-29th in Philadelphia. Anyone else excited for Round 2 of the PR vs. Social ‘Rumble in the Jungle?’  Stay tuned!