Social media: making PR do what it always should have been doing?

Social media: making PR do what it always should have been doing?

Here we are in New York for the PRSA Digital Impact Conference (I know, tough job...).  One of the key themes was influence and there was an interesting seminar run by Pierre-Loic Assayag from a company called Traackr.  He had lots of good stuff to say and did a great job of taking the hype out of the topic but I couldnt  help thinking all the way through: "Isn't this what we should always have been doing anyway?" Why? well, he discussed how achieving influence is about hard work, making it contextual, taking commitment to achieve.  First you have to discover who the influencers are, then you need to listen (read their posts, spot the trending topics etc), then start participating with links and comments, leading to engaging them in a genuine, creative and timely way.    And of course the influencers might not be the people you think they are - you need to avoid the 'usual suspects' and really understand who is being listened to.

But part of this is what we should always have been doing with journalists; ie reading their stuff on a regular basis and thinking of ways to offer a story that fits with their agenda.  I don't think that I was alone in thinking along these lines, @EricaRS Tweeted: "Connecting the age-old skills in PR to modern-day mediums" (you can see other comments about the session at #byndhype).

The other point for me is that it is clear that for too long PR has just been about push-out-a-press-release-media-relations - not about stakeholder engagement.  This is where internal comms practitioners get it much more I think, they know that they need to find the influencers in their organisation and work with them, understand their agenda. This is why internal comms is such a tough job because that takes time, energy and highly developed people skills.  Back to the social media influencer stuff and Pierre-loic talked about how people in an organisation can be assigned 'influencers' and maybe only the CEO would engage with the top five: yup, just like we do in good internal comms practice.

My view is that a good influencer campaign is really just good PR (and dont mean media relations) - but with some different tools to get your head around (something our own Digital Communication Certificate can help with of course!).   So, if you are wondering what a good influencer campaign is all about, chances are you already know.