Let me start by saying that each of the communication disciplines of marketing, public relations and advertising have strengths and weaknesses. One is not necessarily better than the other, they just have their inherent place.
- MARKETING is great at putting together communication that gets results
- PUBLIC RELATIONS is great at building and maintaining relationships, as well as creating informational content
- ADVERTISING is great at creating compelling and entertaining content that could go viral
Valeria Maltoni has a great post describing the differences between the disciplines that I recommend you take a look at to get more context.
So who should own social media communication play?
Working with larger enterprises, I have often been at the table as these battle lines are drawn and it rarely is pretty. I fall down on the side of Jason Falls who writes:
“I’ve long held the belief that public relations, as a discipline and department, should own the responsibility for social media across the spectrum of enterprise and corporations.”
I agree completely with this thinking, and it turns out that a new Digital Readiness Report, completed by researcher Tom Smith, PRSA, iPressroom and Korn Ferry International, finds that this is playing out in the real world.
It turns out that organizations of all sizes are adopting social networking and that PR is leading the management function for most online tools, except for e-mail marketing and search engine optimization, which is led by marketing.
Social networking only comes second to e-mail marketing in the activities employed by organizations as a part of their web-based communications.
But why PR?
Social media is relationship-based and, as I mentioned before, of all the disciplines public relations is the best at this. The public relations department is also really good at creating content.
That said, I think that PR needs the other departments to succeed. The weaknesses of each are filled in nicely by the others and the weakness of PR is that we usually aren’t particularly interesting or entertaining. Not to mention the fact that we are generally not all that great at driving the sale or measuring results.
According to the Ruder Finn Intent Index the top six reason people go online are as follows:
|1. Pass Time||100%|
|2. Educate Self||96%|
|6. Be Entertained||82%|
At their best, Public Relations is great at education, connecting and sharing; Marketing excels at research and could easily share this with stakeholders; and Advertising is best at developing entertaining content that help people to pass the time.
Caveat: Note that I said “at their best.” Let’s put aside the fact that ALL of these disciplines have their tepid dark side with PR leading the way in being disingenuous, marketing being too pushy and advertising being too direct sales oriented.
What if these three disciplines could put aside their petty war to dominate the social media play and work together?
Would we have campaigns that were intelligent, fresh, entertaining and that connected well with the stakeholders.
Would these kinds of campaigns inspire people to donate, share, buy, etc.?
I suspect they would,
Notice that only 33% of people say that they go online specifically to purchase something, But clearly WHILE they are online they do purchase things, join organizations and otherwise close the sale.
The key is meeting their needs.
What do you think? Is there a opportunity for all these disciplines to be better together?