Social media or new media has been gaining momentum in all sectors. However, in the context of the public relations domain, there are questions raised as to whether new media can be a holistic communication platform or whether it is an oxymoron. Have PR agencies missed the bus as new media communicators? According to a section of industry experts, clients are increasingly looking at targeting relevant audiences through social media. As a result PR agencies are losing accounts to social media agencies.
New media has changed clients’ expectations and communications experts stress that it is important for PR agencies to deal with social media as a separate vertical.
Sharing her views on the importance of social media communications, Prema Sagar, Principal & Founder, Genesis Burson-Marsteller said, “When we look at social media it is a very bigger picture and just a digital team is not enough we need communication through various channels and also one to one is still more important and people are now doing things like Twitter and Facebook. It has become a jargon that do you have social media.”
Explaining the difference between social and digital she said when we say working in digital it means developing apps and enhancing technology but at the end of the day client briefs comes for social media, "So we as an industry really need to lift the game up and need to understand what is the client is asking for and what a PR firm can give from strategy point of view." She pointed out most of us here are here to please the client rather than offering strategy and what they need to execute.
Taking the discussion forward from a client perspective, Rajiv Bakshi, Vice President, Marketing, South Asia Discovery Networks, Asia Pacific said, "In last few years PR as a practice travels a lot and today PR is understood finally but what is happening at the same time is new temptations are coming in and the biggest termination is so called social media."
When asked to choose between PR agency and digital media agency for handling the social media mandate, Bakshi replied, "We hire PR agency for a specialized need and we don't expect PR agency to tell our media plans. PR should invest in client, technology and resources for better output. We will go to a social media agency and not to a PR agency.”
On a different note about the capability of PR agencies and about the reach, Bakshi added, few years back lots of advertising folks use to say they can do advertising and PR as they deal with media everyday and deal with news channel's and newspapers so they have influence. "Today I am finding the same thing Pr agency guys come and say we are on social and we can handle your social media mandate, its just like advertising people cant do it I have a feeling PR agencies can't do social, either they need to open a vertical or they are specialist social agency . "
Radhika Shapoorjee, President, IPAN Hill+Knowlton Strategies, represented the situation with famous phrase 'We are stuck in the wood' talking about the role agency should play in the lives of the clients , she said, "Yes the social media has only made the time shrink and turned hours in minute . In a reputation can get go up or down within a minute and we need to understand the fact that it is different , we are the part of most powerful discipline amongst all , if advertising is telling others who am I and what do I do, PR is really about others talking about you, so we need to figure out how we should look social media as a part of it and influence client. "
Concluding with the importance of communication Arti Luniya., Executive Director, (CAD) & CCA SAIL, said Digital media is a complex world and different communication technologies is coming to us and we need to us it for communication as it is easily available . I think there is immense need to know it gives you the ease of directly communicating the larger stake holders and public at large without going through any Pr agency. "
The above speakers were sharing their views on the topic ‘Can PR be a holistic communication platform?’ at the India PR & Corporate Communications Conference 2013, held in Delhi on May 31.