Questions and More Questions on the Impact of Social Media in 2018

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The article hit home like a virtual thunderclap. Well, for me and perhaps the many others who communicate professionally and ethically.

In question is a piece, “2018’s Biggest Social Media Trends for Business,” published January 2 of this year by Forbes. (Yes, I’m a little behind in my reading.)

For a commentary on the growth of digital, there sure are a lot of “old-school” implements in this graphic. Image courtesy of Forbes.

Here’s why: Author Ryan Holmes (also the CEO and founder of Hootsuite) maintains that there’s “a growing realization among businesses that social media is the single most effective way to reach audiences.” He cites factors like the development of paid platforms (so long free reach via Facebook), a continued growth of video (certainly not surprising) and the integration of prominent social media platforms with leading business software (perhaps Microsoft will own everything digital some day).

And, the article cites compelling statistics like the escalating number of Facebook users (lots and lots and lots), time each day teens spend online (around 540 minutes) and the growing dominance of sponsored video (more bucks spent than on that once dominate medium — television).

All this led me to ponder these questions about the future of social media:

1. All these developments are happening at lightening-fast speed. So  how do communicators measure results and effectively keep up?

2. And, given the preponderance of new digital platforms, how do communicators determine if what they recommend to clients is the most relevant one?

3. Not too many years ago, I recall reading that the public relations field “owned” social media. Is that still the case?

4. How do you effectively integrate rapid-fire digital with more traditional strategies and tactics?

5.  Will those of us not raised on digital (this writer included) continue to have a voice in modern communications?

In the conclusion to the article, Holmes offers this rationale: “For companies already fatigued by the onslaught of new technology and strategies, relief, unfortunately, is nowhere in sight. But for those that can keep up, social media may promise bigger audiences and more return on investment than ever.”

Not sure where I stand in that equation.

Now it’s your turn. Given the virtual communications whirlwind ahead, what questions do you have about the impact of social media on communicators?




Lunch with Some PR Agency Big Shots (And What They Had To Say)

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Earlier today, my colleagues at PRSA Chicago hosted what has become the most well-attended of the regular monthly luncheons on the schedule: The panel discussion featuring the top officer from some of the biggest agencies around.

Three very smart, successful PR professionals — Rick Murray from Edelman, Max Winer from Fleishman-Hillard and and Bill Zucker from Ketchum — shared their thoughts on social media, the evolution of PR in the communications arena, the PR “story of the year” and more.  PRSA/Chicago Board member Jack Monson moderated; he did an outstanding job of posing provocative questions tempered with dry humor.

Here’s what made it into the PRDude’s notebook.  (I used to be a real news reporter, you know.)  It’s close to “tomorrow” (otherwise known as “Wednesday”), so I’ll be brief.  Bullet points will suffice here, and I won’t attribute specific quotes or thoughts because, frankly, I didn’t take very precise notes.  There. Full disclosure.

  • Moving in the Direction: Communications Integration. PR agencies are evolving into more “complete, integrated communications firms.”  In the same vein, “the beauty of public relations is that is has the license to compete in a bunch of different spaces.”  I wholeheartedly agree with these thoughts, and would like to add this: Those of us in the corporate and/or association side of the profession — like me — have had to wear a lot of hats for a long time. That’s how we get stuff done.
  • How Loud Can You Say, “Social Media!” “If you’re not working with social media, you won’t be working for long.” Those professionals who recently entered the ranks bring a passion for social media, which is being funneled up the corporate ladder. Did you know that Edelman has a social media training program based on a martial arts “belt system?”  (Wonder if my old tae-kwon-do instructor, Mr. Yung, would approve?  Wonder if he’s on Facebook.)
  • In This Year’s News…  When asked about the top story or development in public relations, the panelists were divided on the broad and encompassing (more PR professionals getting a seat with the corporate guys and gals and more defined responsibilities from clients) to the specific: The Facebook scandal involving Burson Marsteller and the bankruptcy that put legendary media monitoring giant Video Monitoring Services out of business.  I found the discussion of the VMS closing as the most poignant: Modify your business model or you might be out of business.   (Personal note: The PRDude covered the BM “Googlegate” debacle in a previous post. )
  • And, There was Time for Questions. As in questions from the audience. Well, The PRDude took advantage of Mr. Monson’s LinkedIn request for questions.  Mine was:  “Do you subscribe to the Barcelona Principles?”  Must say, I think I caught these folks a bit off guard, as there was not a lot of commentary. What was I referring to?  Read this past post and find out.  Hint: If you’re serious about this profession and where it’s heading, I recommend you read up on the Barcelona Principles.  Hint: They have nothing to do with traveling to a cool place in Spain.  Better yet, read my thoughts.

Let me turn the tables on you: What is the biggest PR story or development to date?  Do you agree with those mentioned by the panelists?

One more thing: This is the PRDude’s 100th blog.  I hear trumpets!  I’ll offer some insight on this somewhat monumental feat next time.

A Few Social Media Hot Buttons

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of attending the monthly luncheon hosted by my friends and colleagues from the PRSA Chicago Chapter.  Those loyal followers of The PRDude know I’m a proud, full-fledged member of the chapter, and I even do my best to promote the Accreditation in Public Relations when I can.

Today, the packed audience gained some great insight into the always-changing subject of social media.  Three guys from public relations agencies with household names in the industry presented some great thoughts.  My apologies: I did not get the names of the speakers.

Without further rhetoric, here’s what I scribbled down.

  • Clients are becoming smarter in the social media world and demanding better metrics to measure results.  The challenge remains “how to connect the dots” or results from various platforms.  Makes sense to me, and let me add that measurement of defined objectives should be a factor in every public relations program.
  • B2B clients are accepting the value of social media and recognize the need to reach a small, targeted audience.  And, social media is projected to rise 60 percent in the B2B arena this year.  Since my “real job” (I don’t make any money off this, you know) requires I communicate with people in the commercial real estate world, this is good news.
  • The death of the “one-way” web site is a reality; communicators who are on the ball transition static sites into “blogging platforms.”   Yea!  As a blogger and manager of my organization’s web site, this is the best news to cross my desk — er, monitor — in a long time.  The speaker who made this proclamation went on to say, “Web site should no longer be full of happy corporate talk.  Have your peers  become your ‘brand evangelist.'”  Don’t agree entirely with this statement, and I think evangelists belong in church or on a street corner.
  • Facebook is the most important platform, even for B2B audiences, because that’s where the big dollars are being spent.  As long as money continues to make the world go round, I’ll have to agree.  But I have read that Facebook has reached a saturation point of subscribers here in the U.S., so it’s focusing on other parts of the world.  I do know people outside the U.S. have computers and friends.
  • The geographic platforms — Foursquare, etc. — are still struggling for a foothold in the online world.  Full disclosure: I registered for Foursquare and only checked in around two times.  Both were to the Small Bar, my local watering hole. I know some businesses offer discounts to those who check into their sites.  That won’t work at the Small Bar yet.  Besides, Parker usually slips me a free pint once in a while anyway.

The panel offered more insight about sites that will rise to uncharted heights — Empire Avenue and Get Glue were two that I jotted down.  But I’m not so sure I need to know about these sites just yet.

One observation: I’ve read that good old-fashioned email will someday go the way of the manual typewriter.  If that’s true, then why do all these cool new sites require you to register with your email address?