Steve Cody, aka Rep Man, has a post on the PRSA blog ComPRehension about “Walking the Walk.” In it, Cody encourages PR firms to blog, as a way of gaining the experience of strategies they may be recommending to clients.
“Blogging is so much more than just an important tool in the overall public relations counselor’s arsenal. Rather, it represents that rare opportunity in which we can not only provide counsel, but “live the experience as well,” he says.
I felt a bit dismayed as I read his post. While I agree with what Cody says, it’s unfathomable to me that there are firms out there who still have not experienced social media as a service to their clients. PRSA seems to have a gentle stance on social media; they’re encouraging knowledge but not saying what we know to be true. If you’re a professional communicator, get social media experience — not now, yesterday. It is, in my opinion, PR malpractice to not be intimately familiar with the most widespread, accessible and popular communication tools of the last twenty years.
In fact, I think firms who are not embracing social media and who claim to be “more traditional” PR firms might as well say, “We don’t e-mail information. We fax it.”
I realize this is a pretty strong statement, but if you’re a PR professional worth your salt (or salary) you owe it to your clients and your firm to get smart about today’s and tomorrow’s communications tools. Blogging is just one slice of the pie. Your clients’ communities are using Twitter, Facebook and instant messaging to communicate. The media is using these tools as well, in fact, pitching via Twitter is fast becoming a perfectly acceptable and by some, welcomed method as it limits the pitch to 140 characters.
It’s time to take stock. If you’re thinking of hiring a PR firm, find out about their social media experience. Ask to see the firm’s social media resume. What are they doing for themselves in the online space? Do the members of the firm blog professionally and/or personally? Are they capable and practiced at monitoring the online conversation about their clients? Find out what online tools they would explore using to support your company’s objectives.