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New Decade, Who Will Own Social Media – PR Firms Or Advertising Agencies?

Depending on what you read social media is either owned by one camp or the other – public relations firms or advertising agencies. Of course there is another camp who feels that social media is not owned by either, but I’d love to see your thoughts on this. Will this new decade change the rules of the game or how it is played?

I asked the question early on last year which triggered quite a bit of debate. Since that time there have been a lot of changes to social media. While companies such as Maverick PR, Edelman and Environics have been bulking up on their social media hiring throughout 2009. In some cases pulling independent consultants or people who were not previously in a pure social media role, but had a great online profile and very immersed in social media.

Over the last year we’ve seen a number of companies launch tools that help to measure engagement, a number of companies have been created that help to measure engagement on various social media platforms.   “Time spent” become a big buss word within marketing departments and they started to move away from the traditional click on ads as once again consumers became tired to be sold to and wanted a more meaningful way to spend their time online.

It is often said that public relations professionals are great communicators so perhaps this will be a something that sets apart a PR person’s ability to deliver a social media solution vs. an advertiser.

What do you think?

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Ferg Devins

Itneresting provocation to be sure. Ultimately I think there needs to be a collaboration…if folks are truly coming at it from the consumer…in social media…the consumer is not distinguishing where the message or conversation is being generated…it's about the "what" is being communicated. I think at this particular juncture it is a natural default to PR folk and communicators because that is what they do…they engage in dialogue, in relations, in conversations…where traditionally speaking advertising agencies have created messages and pushed them out in paid channels. I truly believe the future will see these siloed approaches knocked down and a more collaborative approach undertaken. Cheers @MolsonFerg

John A. Bozzo, JB Communications & Branding Inc.

I think the real question is … who will own integrated communications planning and delivery?

Social media as important as it is, is only one strategic approach among many. Relationships with your audience, markets, stakeholders and employees are by their very nature fluid and based on the messiness and unpredictability of human interactions. No one approach (PR, Advertising, Social Media) can define and dominate this relationship.

In my experience the more time spent on really understanding these underlying relationships the more successful the program. Building the right integrated strategy that enhances reputation and builds brand equity into a cohesive whole is the better path to success. Integrating PR, Advertising, Social Media and the myriad of other tactics to serve a SINGLE strategy is the only way to build lasting relationships that will be with you through thick and thin.

All too often the PR strategy and the Advertising strategy and more recently the Social Media strategy — while serving the same company and even based on the same brief — often work against each other other or they are not integrated sufficiently to ensure positive results. We need to look at these as inter-dependant and intra-dependant variables that when executed in the right way deliver superior and lasting results.

Can our clients afford anything less?

John A. Bozzo

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