Social Media PR Going Mainstream

Target, Engage, Dominate

This isn’t the mantra of some F/A-18 pilot flying off the deck of the USS Ronald Regan, but in actuality it is the mindset of many PR professionals in today’s market. Starting today communications professionals are going to have a new tool for targeting and engaging new media sources and social media should start listening.

Viral communication is amazing. When it works well, information is shared between individuals at an alarming rate across more borders than I can imagine. People engaging other people on an unprecedented level to provide insight and information like never before. This is great, unless you are a PR firm.

PR firms were the managers of information. They helped shaped public opinion by helping to manage and ‘wrangle’ the gatekeepers of information, the media. As social media begins to grow helping shape public opinion it is becoming more difficult because the public has a much LOUDER opinion.

A company by the name SSA Public Relations has released a press release regarding a new automated social media monitoring system. Why should this frighten the social media community? Well it shouldn’t, but it will. Bloggers are going to be pitched by an ever growing number of PR flacks until the blogger opinion is questioned much like standard media.

On the other side of the coin perhaps this will create a dyad between PR and bloggers like we have not seen before. I worked in PR for many years and I never ‘pitched’ a story that I felt a journalist wouldn’t want to cover. Lets hope that when PR types begin tracking bloggers they use this information to pitch bloggers who would care to cover what they are selling.

The real danger from PR folks pitching bloggers isn’t even the PR worlds fault. The worst thing that can come from improved blogger relations is that the bloggers become lazy and stop thinking for themselves. In the PR world we can provide you with a ton of information and great quotes, all that favor our client, and you as the blogger can just copy and paste them into your blog.

People read blogs for opinionated post and information that is not found in traditional media. By all means bloggers use PR folks when they approach you but remain ever vigilant, check your facts, question quotes and keep blogging like you have been. PR folks can help you find interesting stories that you want to cover, but remember their opinion is biased.

Just don’t stop digging for your own stories. When some poor low level Account Coordinator pitches you over email with “I have been reading your blog and I like what you have to say,” give her a minute and read what she has to say, you might find it useful.

Are any of you out there afraid that when PR begins taking a stronger hold in the blogging world that bloggers will lose their credibility? Do any of you have any other fears regarding PR folks and their targeting practices?