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Why Has Social Media Become One Big Fire Hydrant?
By: Shawn Paul Wood
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At times, it seems that PR professionals and "Creatives" (e.g. social media experts, creative designers, coding gurus) work together in perfect harmony. And then there are other places across this great land of ours where one side is sipping tea and the other side is growing wicked mustaches, drinking moonshine, and making a flag that's not as offensive as the "Stars & Bars."

And to add to the budding Civil War, we have this article by PRSA's Blake Lewis: It's time to end the social media ownership battles.

You see, there are some flacks who, quite frankly, are stiffs. Their idea of a "creative sentence" is a split infinitive. It reminds them of Star Trek, I suppose. ("To boldly go" is actually bad grammar for those scoring at home.) Because of that ineptitude, creatives find it a little annoying that those same people are discussing social media with their clients. Of course, the stiff PR pro means well, but meh?

Then, there is that new PR generation. We are hip. We're hybrids. We use split infinitives and comma splices, and the chicks dig it. So, it's not surprising this report from eMarketer (conducted by the Transworld Advertising Agency Network and Worldcom Public Relations Group) came out stressing to creatives that there maybe a new sheriff in town.

[The study] surveyed the principals of 25 ad agencies and 25 PR shops on which discipline was best equipped to harness the opportunities and power of social media. The findings? Principals from both the paid and earned side of communications believe that PR is more effective when it comes to strategically applying social media. A significant majority of respondents — 84 percent of public relations agency principals and 67 percent of ad agency leaders — said that public relations brings innovation to social media, keeping the medium in pace with the times.

What does that tell me, other PR pros like me? Every brand wants word-of-mouth advertising and every agency wants best practices. Who cares who gets the credit to do both? I agree that we can't all be social media experts; however, to discount what a PR professional can do for a social media campaign simply because they don't rock a mean hipster beard is outlandish.

Here's a thought: Every person who engages an online conversation should be deemed as an owner of that brand's social media identity. Whether it's the social media ninja planning every tweet or the flack opining the next crafty blog post, there is no patent on good ideas. Right? Social media should be shared, because if it weren't for the client paying your bills, there wouldn't be a ball to kick around and take home anyway.

The great Keith Trivitt once penned, "Competition is indeed a great thing but so is a collaborative sense that helps build many industries' overall value to consumers and brands." Clients are looking for integration. That's not possible without collaboration between the PR professional and the creative guru.

In other words, I'll quote a sage, cagey philosopher who echoed in the annals of history a long, long time ago, "Can't we all just get along?"


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About the Author
Shawn Paul Wood is a hack-turned-flack with more than 20 years of collective journalism, copywriting and marketing communications experience. Shawn Paul is founder of Woodworks Communications in Dallas, Texas. If you need him, ping him here or follow him on Twitter @ShawnPaulWood
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