A prediction for 2010


Happy New Year!

I’m slowly getting back into the headspace of my work – digital marketing.

It’s actually odd to be ‘out-of-the-loop’ for 2 weeks, along with the rest of the world.

Indeed there are some people out there doing strange things. For example Matt Cutts is actually signing out of digital media for a whole week as of today, to the extent that he has blocked his IP address from any of the services he normally uses! There’s also a new app launched specifically to help you erase your digital existence entirely! Weird!

I guess I have been looking forward to this moment (what a geek!) and start the new year with the intention to write more on this blog.

So having scanned my Google Reader feed this morning (my Shared Items are here) I thought I would share one prediction for 2010:

Social Media Will Become The New PR…. or

The Business Function of Public Relations Will Inherit Social Media.

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What do you think? A bold statement? I know ex-colleagues of mine will disagree, but there are several reasons why I think this. Here are just 2 of them:

1. Customer Service isn’t enough

How businesses deal with customer service, and other issues that relate to the public, has become the biggest consideration in social media. It was thought some time ago that (amongst other functions) product development would be the most obvious use of social media. Indeed feedback is still the most beneficial outcome of the use of social media, but it is how the feedback is handled and dealt with that is the core practice of PR practitioners, and this cannot be replaced handled as well by any other business function.

2. PR and Social Media disciplines are most aligned

Social Media has recently been heralded as a new business function drawing on all other existing business functions to create a distinct team. I have seen this happen within some of the business that I have been lucky enough to be associated in one way or another. A friend of mine at Virgin Holidays updated me on how they are dealing with this as a team. Like a lot of companies they have been patient, listened to hat specialist agencies like my own (Freshegg) have to say about Social Media, and made a decision to handle the most important elements of social media themselves. They have Customer Services, Product Development and Public Relations teams already so why shouldn’t they. In fact they are discovering that Social Media is bringing these teams together.

Critically it is how you communicate with those individuals or groups around you – the ones that are really important to your brand – that should be handled with the sort of skills that are a pre-requisite of PR practitioners, not of Social Media natives.

Maybe it’s this last point that is key to the prediction: Social Media is a young discipline. It’s practitioners are made up in the most part of ex-SEO bods, editors, journalists, and the odd PR convert, but the majority do not have the experience of having conducted effective outreach.

Just a thought to stir the debate. What do you think?

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