So you’ve got a Facebook account, and you know how to use Digg. Perhaps you’ve even run a successful social media campaign or two. But do you know which social network will be on top a year from now? Tell me, which iPhone app will be the quintessential tool for public relations professionals in six months?
Relax, this isn’t a test of your psychic abilities; instead, I ask these questions for a different reason. As much as you might think you “get” new media, realize there’s always more to learn.
Change is inevitable. Are you ready for it?
Twenty years ago, the field of PR largely consisted of traditional media relations — newspaper articles, press conferences, etc. But as we ventured into the 21st-century with the birth of the Internet, and Web 2.0, PR has found itself an increasingly digitally-driven industry that is constantly changing to fit the marketplace.
As Web 2.0 has developed, so has PR 2.0. With the advent of the 21st-century’s technological innovations, professionals now have access to many more methods of communication: blogs, social media platforms, mobile technology and more, each of which has distinct advantages over traditional methods, but presents challenges as well.
Your clients expect you to.
If the last five years have been any indication, nearly every facet of society is adjusting to new media technology. As of just a few days ago, for instance, you can now buy Delta airline tickets directly through their Facebook fan page. The majority of clients out there already expects that teams handling their account are new media-savvy, and this trend will continue. If you expect to have a job in five years, you’d better be up on the latest technology. Clients expect it, and studies project that they will continue to do so. In a recent study by the Pew Internet and the American Life Project, 67 percent of respondents agreed that by the year 2020, Generation Y-ers will still largely use social media as “ambient broadcasters.”
A big reason is that the immediacy of information made possible by the Internet and social media, in particular, has made it all simply too convenient for Generation Y.
For PR pros, this means the following: don’t expect a social media crash. My prediction is that social media will be around for a good while, and those who work in public relations would be smart to learn all that they can.
It pays to keep up-to-date… literally.
Not knowing how to use new media will lose you clients, simply put. If you don’t know at least a little about social media, clients will move on to someone who does.
Those who spend the time learning new media technology and become proficient are well-rewarded in today’s PR world. They’ve learned the culture and etiquette of various social sites. They know what’s happening across the industry. The recent marketing and ad trends toward mobile and location-based technology, for example. In terms of social media usage, they know what works, and what doesn’t. They know how to find out what’s being said about their client’s company, and more importantly, how to fix the less-than-ideal things. They have experience using social media to manage crisises, and can fully explain their reasoning and method to clients. In short, they “get” it.
But they never stop learning, and neither should you.
If you want a leg up on your competition, you need to realize that new media changes every day and you need to keep up.
You’re not done learning yet.
To keep up with new media technology in today’s fast-paced world, make a personal commitment to constantly be in a state of learning.
Many experts suggest regular participation in ongoing training. Kaila Strong (of TheSocialRobot.com) suggests that social media “webinars,” short virtual workshop-style sessions, are the way to go. These are a great idea, particularly if you can find free ones.
In my opinion, however, the best way to stay on top of new media is to literally keep yourself connected, being an ‘early adopter’ when new platforms are made accessible, and use them yourself as the site culture develops. In addition, read all you can, and take part in the blogosphere (if you’re new to the blogging world, and you’d like to get started, check out this excellent list).
Most importantly, however, take it all one day at a time, and never say that you’re a new media “expert“.
. . . Even if you think are one.
What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Join the discussion and add your thoughts.