A Sea of Change Continues in the Use of Social Media by Public Relations, Public Affairs Firms

by Jason Mollica on November 15, 2010

Bob Dylan was four decades ahead of himself; the times really are a changin’, especially in the world of public relations.

According to a recent survey by agency mergers and acquisitions consultants StevensGouldPincus, social media will soon replace traditional media- television/print/radio- as the industry’s primary tool for reaching client audiences with news and information.

SGP surveyed public relations and public affairs firms in the United States.

Art Stevens, APR, SGP managing partner, said, “When you consider that traditional media have been the bedrock of professional PR/PA practice for more than 100 years, the implications are profound.”

They certainly are profound.

We have been talking about the power of social media for some time. The days of having a single marketing strategy that involves just print and electronic media have passed.  You need to include Facebook and Twitter in your plans.

According to the survey, communications consulting firms currently devote 30% of their work to social media.  In 2011, that percentage will increase to an average of 42%.

While the numbers may not be a total shock to most public relations and public affairs pros, it stresses social media’s considerable clout in our world.

From a marketing perspective, look at what Pepsi did earlier this year.  In January, the soft drink maker moved cash from its traditional Super Bowl television ads to start a social media campaign to promote the “Pepsi Refresh” project.  By logging on to refresheverything.com from Facebook and Twitter, potential grant awardees could access the site.

The fact that Pepsi used social media helps to reinforce what the StevensGouldPincus survey states.  For example, it shows that public relations and public affairs firms are focusing most of their attention on those social media platforms, with Facebook at 31% of the time and Twitter at 29%.

Don Bates, senior advisor at SGP, adds that if firms aren’t measuring now, they will be over the next couple of years.  “Use of social media has become critical enough that both firms and clients want to know what they’re getting for their money,” he said.

The numbers, which you can see here, reflect that PR/PA firms are committed to using services like Facebook and Twitter to gain a competitive and strategic advantage in the marketplace.

What are your thoughts one the survey’s results? Will traditional media bow to social media and in what way?

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Lauren Gray November 15, 2010 at 11:42 am

I agree 100% with this post. Growing up in this decade, I’ve kind of only every known online content. I still read the newspaper, but I usually get my news online via huffington post, mashable and CNN.

I think social media is changing things and that PR firms, marketing firms, etc. need to include Twitter and Facebook in their plans because it’s where people are.

I participate in the Pepsi Refresh Project because my University is #80 something on the list to receive the $250,000 for funding here at WCU. I vote through FB then promote it on Twitter, it’s how things are done.

Great post!!

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