Posts Tagged ‘transform’

Is Social Media Transformational? “The Jury Is Still Out”

September 19, 2009


Aaron, Dan and (via Skype) Melanie

Aaron, Dan and (via Skype) Melanie

Although Aaron DeLucia, senior vice president of Porter Novelli, Austin, and Dan Greenfield, principal at BernaiseSource Media agreed that social media is transformational in the field of public relations, Melanie James, a public relations lecturer at the University of Newscastle, didn’t agree.


Greenfield believed that social media transformed the way organizations work in public relations. Back when he worked for MCI he would say “there’s this thing called the Internet and you have to use it.” It allows departments to collaborate in ways that they haven’t in the past.

“I think social media conveys the organization and the way it is organized, the authority,”¬†Greenfield said. “All of the rules are being turned upside down. It is making PR and marketing work in ways it has never worked before.”

When responding to PR’s use (or over use) of great metrics brought up by Melanie James, he further used an example of how he created, organized and promoted PR Camp Atlanta, a workshop to bring public relations practitioners in Atlanta together to discuss pertinent issues in the industry such as social media, solely online. He said that although he sent two press releases about the event, not a single reporter covered it.

“If I didn’t have Twitter, it [PR Camp Atlanta] would have never happened. Twitter was responsible for getting people involved and creating a buzz about it. It was through non-traditional [PR] tools that I was able to make this happen. It was made possible because it didn’t cost me a dime to publicize the event, and that is a far cry from the PR when I first started.”

Aaron DeLucia thinks that Twitter has been the biggest transformation for PR and how corporations and organizations look at communication with their different publics, whether it is with journalists, customers, etc. DeLucia also believes that social media has created new relationships through its existence.

“You’re always connected and you always have to be available,” DeLucia said. “We’re interacting with people at different levels. You need to have a support person/technical person that will interact with the customer [that has the answers to the questions that PR practitioners can’t answer].”

However, James does not agree. She believes that it is transformational in terms of where public relations will be in the future but that it also comes down to the micro level in terms of what should PR practitioners actually do as opposed to the other departments within an organization or other industries in general.

“I have seen numerous turf wars in PR and marketing,” James said. “In Sydney, Australia, turf wars are tough between social media agencies, advertising agencies, and certainly social media has driven a lot of that. ”

However, they all agreed that PR practitioners still need to be responsive regardless of how organizations respond and need to take into account their online presence, relationship management and branding of their organizations.

United Airlines and the mishandling of one man’s guitar was discussed at length and because of this, Southwest Airlines is capitalizing on this mistake through mass media about the care they take in handling bags. The question became does having this online public outcry have an actual, bottom-line effect on the company. Have they lost customers? Do people remember? The case study is always accessible via search.

Furthermore, the panel discussed if the terms new media or social media are productive or interchangeable. The terms ‘horseless carriages’ and ‘information superhighway’ were replaced. Although terms do not matter as much, people have more control over content this content making everyone a spokesperson with the power and capability to shape or change a brand and its reputation.

Finally, students and social media were discussed with the fact that people around 21 years of age have a more personal relationship with the media. The panel believes that students must be taught skills to leverage their day-to-day use of social media.