As part of the Q&A series we’ve been doing on PR at Sunrise, I had the opportunity to interview the self-described “social media freak,” Sarah Evans, on what the future holds for PR pros and agencies in a changing social media landscape.
Q. Can traditional PR agencies win more social media (SM) business or do you see more SM agencies gaining market share? Will companies start looking at more in-house options?
Even though a successful campaign might incorporate PR and social media, don’t make any mistake – these are two completely different animals. Hiring a PR agency, a social media consultancy or an in-house associate really depends on whether these players have an in-depth understanding of social media AND the experience to back it up.
Several glaring signs that indicate you’re social media expert isn’t really an expert include:
(1) They call themselves a “guru” or “expert” (when no one else does).
(2) They haven’t done anything of significance using social media (i.e. results).
Q. Now that many companies are on Facebook and Twitter, which platform do you see becoming the next big thing Does that platform even exist yet?
Your Facebook page, Twitter account, blog or whatever is only beneficial if the company using them knows what they’re doing. For a business that doesn’t understand how to interact online, “the next big thing” really won’t make a bit of difference.
Q. What is the best way to educate staff and clients on how to properly use these networks and build a strategy that is not just tools-based?
The first step towards building a successful online campaign is teaching companies how to LISTEN. They don’t need to fire up a twitter account that spews scripted messaging or advertisements left and right; they need to study their space, look for opportunities to insert themselves into the conversation and serve as a helpful resource to their peers. This leads to meaningful conversation, credibility and the aptitude to share information that resonates.
Q. Do social media specialists/experts/whoever have a real future, or do you see these professionals having limited opportunities in the future as more PR people look to become SM savvy?
Becoming social media savvy certainly doesn’t happen over night. Chris Brogan, Brian Solis and Beth Kanter didn’t just sign up for Twitter on a whim so that they could become social media “gurus” – far from it. Building a following takes creative strategy, an in-depth understanding of how to engage and knowledge of how your followers consume information.
Sarah is the owner of Sevans Strategy, a public relations and new media consultancy. She created and moderates #Journchat, the weekly live chat for PR professionals, journalists and bloggers on the microblogging platform Twitter. She runs her own blog at PRsarahevans.com, shares a daily resource for PR professionals called Commentz and interviews celebrities and news makers via Sarah Evans LIVE.