Dealing with potential sabotage, rumors and misinformation; making sure consumers and the public viewed their clients in the correct light. 5-10 years ago, PR professionals struggled to deal with the sheer power of the Internet, to manage expectations.
However in recent years; social media has complicated things a bit. It has obviously made opinions more valued, but more importantly social has given PR professional an avenue for creating engaging relationships.
There is no doubt that most PR firms are diversifying their employees to shape both their high level communications and social engagement talent base. So does having social media experience help you? Sure, it probably does. A better question for many is, do you need social media experience to land your dream job in PR?
That answer is rather complicated. I’d love to say that social media would typically be handled by entry level employees, because it requires less “seriousness.” However, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, “The recent emergence of social media in the public relations is expected to increase job growth. Many public relations firms are expanding their use of these tools, and specialists with skills in them will be needed.”
This data may suggest that firms are actually investing professionals with a high level of experience to manage their client’s social presence. With that notion, the data may suggest that social media is an acquired skill within PR firms. A surprising number of high level executives are working directly with social media, according to Simply Zesty.
Then again, it makes sense to strategically drive social media campaigns. Twitter is one of the most direct ways a company will show face to its community; if I were a company hiring a PR firm to manage my social presence, I’d want some experience behind my tweeters. Having experience as a community manager can illustrate that you have the chops to communicate messages professionally.
I’d like to say that nowadays, a personal social presence helps in the screening process. But PR firms likely understand the difference in tweeting personally and professionally. Unless you are a social media guru with 40,000 followers plus, being authoritative on your personal social media accounts shouldn’t impact your screening process. However, do note that personal statements, or inappropriate material could definitely hurt your chances.
PR firms want people who can run social media campaigns for clients and measure ROI. If you are an entry level employee who tweets every few days, I’d stay away from calling yourself “social media savvy.” Hard experience, means you have influence on a community, scope to communicate effectively and the chops to track and monitor campaigns.
All in all, if you are looking for a job in PR, social media experience can help, but only if it is professional experience. Having a social presence is important but not necessary for succeeding public relations. Even though PR firms are inherently more social these days, that doesn’t mean you won’t be able to get “in” with them with little social media experience.
About the Author
Matt Krautstrunk is an expert writer on document management systems based in San Diego, California. He writes extensively for an online resource that provides expert advice on purchasing and outsourcing decisions for small business owners and entrepreneurs such as document software at Resource Nation. Contact Matt on Twitter via @MattKrautstrunk.