Public relations professionals are taking the lead in managing social media communications channels. And PR and marketing hiring managers in the US say it is nearly as important for prospective hires to have social media knowledge as it is for them to have traditional media-relations skills, according to a survey by iPressroom with support from support from Korn/Ferry International, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Trendstream. (Thanks to Wessel for pointing it out to me)
The “2009 Digital Readiness Report,” should (like all of these things) be taken with a pinch of salt. But several significant themes emerge.
Firstly, it is no longer enough for a PR professional to have nerves of steel, a thick contacts book and a Teflon liver. “Among those responsible for hiring PR and marketing employees, 82% of respondents say mainstream media relations expertise is either important or very important, while more than 80% say knowledge of social networks is either important or very important.” Mind you, the figures for “very important” make it clear where priorities lie. Media relations is the #1 desired skill for PR hiring managers in government and corporations, while social media skills are most important for those hiring into agencies, non-profits and academic institutions.”
Secondly, it is PR – not marketing – that seems to be leading this charge. PR professionals are taking the lead in managing most organizations’ social media communications channels, while marketing (often run quite separately, by different people with different skills), usually has management and oversight responsibility for bulk email communications and SEO. “The research… suggests a potential gap in online communications strategy at most organizations, since the channels with the greatest reach and adoption levels – email and search engine optimization – do not appear to be the most important channels in practice.”
I think this division of labour is a historical legacy: marketing does volume and reach, PR does targeted penetration. But increasingly these are the same, amplifying or repeating messages and integrating campaigns.
Tips here, by the way, for journalists seeking new jobs. Those with web skills and a basic smattering of technical skills will go a long way when transferring into either PR or marketing. The SEO, writing and editing and email side is just as interested in journalism skills – and they may be more transferrable there.