In my PR Communications class last week, the professor admitted to knowing little to nothing about social media or so-called PR 2.0. With this, she said in some ways she feels as though teaching us about the basic news release, fact sheet and media advisory is waste of time.
Should PR students' time be devoted only to learning about the SMPR, Flickr and YouTube as she suggested? No -- we should blend the old with the new.
From what I've seen, good PR is about excellent writing and great strategy. This strategy may be to pitch traditional media or hold a special event. But, it could also be to create a video contest on YouTube or tag an organization's photos on Flickr. Or, better yet, you could do both. Engage in traditional and "new" PR at the same time.
For my final project, I am creating a PR action plan for The Georgia Club Foundation, a non-profit created by The Georgia Club focused on enriching the lives of its residents and the surrounding community. The traditional media pitch and good-old event planning are the building blocks of this PR plan. It wouldn't be good strategy to use Twitter as a channel to reach the Athens community, but it may be a good idea to begin tagging event photos on Flickr, have Foundation members post to a blog and create a SEO'd Web site.
All organizations should use this old-new mix in their PR strategy. The key to good PR is choosing the correct channel to engage your publics, whether it's holding a 5K or commenting on blogs.
So when you're wondering whether or not to include social media tools in your PR campaign, make it simple: Set an overall communications goal, break it into smaller objectives and develop tactics to achieve each. If a social media tool makes sense, use it. Easy!
I'd be interested in putting together some real-world examples of when social media was used just for the sake of using something "new" and didn't turn out to be the optimal choice. Help me out, please!