The relationship of the communications industry — public relations and marketing — and social media, should have been, one would think, love at first sight followed by a quick marriage. What is social media for companies but a new way (or hundred new ways) to get their message heard?
For many, it is so and early adopters have reaped the rewards. However, some public relations professionals (dare we say, the older ones? I can say that because I’m getting there) were slow to embrace social media and perhaps even now prefer other communications tools — traditional media outreach, for instance — to the brave new world of social media. Social media is what everyone now wants to learn and is turning to communications professionals to get them there, but the professional communicators ares sometimes like that teacher who is only one textbook chapter ahead his students.
Of course, the communications industry is as varied as the clients it serves, so a sweeping statement makes no sense. Social media lends itself to some industry clients better than to others. A video game maker would not have the same communications needs as, say, an auto parts manufacturer or a municipal government. Mr. McLuhan’s catchy phrase — the medium is the message — has never been more true. But communications professionals must be social media savvy so they know when to use it and how to do so effectively.