The other night I received an email inviting me to attend a Social Marketing workshop. After reading this email and, no offense to Giovanni as I’m sure attendees will learn a lot, but the first thing I thought was – Social Marketing? Now we’ve got another name in the mix that’s basically a description of what “Public Relations” or “Integrated Communications” is when incorporating social web tactics.

Here’s the email copy:

Social media has turned advertising, marketing and public relations upside down. Giovanni Gallucci is one of the most well-respected and well-known social media experts in the industry. He’s delivered social marketing solutions to some of the world’s best known brands and garnered media exposure for clients that would make any marketing & communications professional envious.

This one day social media training workshop will train you to utilize the new media marketing tools of twitter, blogs, videos, photos, social networks and other social media related websites in your online marketing efforts.

As discussed in prior posts, IMO, social media is a channel of which to conduct communications activities, which is what PR is at the heart of it. Communications. Connecting with your audience but that’s not what PR stands for any more. The word association is so tainted that sound of “PR” when vocalized does not beget much respect in the business world at large. PR is a means to a cheap end and not recognized as one of the most crucial strategic elements to any company. But then again, most PR people aren’t operating their programs at this level.

Are PR people stuck in a rut and now reliant to hire out to Social Media Experts instead of becoming ones themselves or is this the natural educational evolution for our industry? There are a ton of people out there claiming themselves as experts and mis-guiding gullible PR people but they’re getting paid and companies are eating it up (along with your budgets!)

Be smarter! Do you really not know how to use Facebook yet? Or Flickr or Twitter? If not, then you deserve to have some other third-party come in and tell your clients what they’re missing since you aren’t! It’s not hard folks. Listen to the conversation, observe before jumping in and then make sure that when you do it’s authentic and appropriate. And, you can focus efforts on the most popularly used channels. Facebook and Twitter don’t exactly take rocket science to figure out. And you can build a blogger list just like a press list.

I truly fear for PR agencies in the future. I think smaller more nimble boutiques that offer a more comprehensive set of services will start to nibble at larger agencies bottom lines. Big brands will pump money into fancy PR agencies in NY who have “Consumer expertise” but those agencies will see their creativity continually suppressed (read: stuck w/ media relations as core competency) and their budgets shrink as “interactive marketing” and “social marketing” and “integrated communications” firms demonstrate returns on programs that move the business needle. PR as most people do it now, does not. It’s trying, but it it’s just not respected enough in that way by executives, and often, by people in the field.

Public Relations should be known for being the go-to strategy to reaching your intended audience. Instead it’s now sharing the stage with Marketing and Social Media…Well, more like PR crashed marketing’s spotlight only to be upstaged by the shiny new potential of Social Media.

So, again, I am back to asking the question: What is PR? How is it different from “Social Media” experts? Where do they play together and what is completely separate? What is marketing and what part of that is also now PR?

  • What is PR’s responsibility?
  • What is Marketing’s responsibility?
  • What is Social Media’s responsibility?
  • What is Branding’s responsibility?

I’m struggling with the clear divisions. Are you? Got some insights or opinions? I’d love to hear how you all think the activities between these responsibilities shake out in this new order.