Stuart’s case for ditching the widely used online press release archive in favour of a social media newsroom was convincing, possibly faultless. His presentation is below. But the most interesting aspect was not the benefits that a social media newsroom can bring. Rather it was Stuart’s premise that social media is just part of modern PR practice. It’s not something new, magical or outside of the remit of PR, but very intrinsic to our function. PRs who are not using social media just aren’t up to the job in 2012. Stuart is not the first to say this, however I think it’s still an important idea to discuss.
This doesn’t mean that today’s PRs are expected to become community managers looking after, for example, Facebook on a day-to-day basis, although of course they might. What this means is that reputation management, generating third-party endorsement or whatever definition you use for PR is not restricted to traditional media and traditional channels. Influencers on social media, be they bloggers, Twitter users or Facebook fans, are just as important as journalists and thought-leaders.
While this might seem obvious, my experience is that this philosophy is not yet widely adopted in PR practice. Developments like blogger lists on the Gorkana database are helping to change the mindset of PRs, but the paradigm has not yet shifted.
In the short-term you won’t see the Museum of London suddenly adopt a social media newsroom, though this is a long-term aspiration of mine. If you look at how the Museum of London press office operates today what you will see is social media firmly embedded within our PR activity. Bloggers are included within every media list alongside traditional journalists and I encourage my team to understand that a positive Tweet by a crucial influencer is as important, and sometimes more important, than press coverage. I have even commissioned Metrica to help us understand which online influencers can help us meet our public affairs objectives. Stuart Bruce says that the social media newsroom is an evolution, not a revolution. I believe the same applies to including social media tactics within a traditional PR programme, it’s just an evolution of what PRs are already doing very well.