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What PR Companies Don’t Understand About Social Media

Full disclosure: VaynerMedia was built on coming into companies and taking the social media away from PR firms.

True story. But, don’t misunderstand me.

We didn’t do it because I thought PR shouldn’t do social. We did it because I thought I could do it better. There’s a big difference between those two things. However, it doesn’t answer the question of whether they should at all. Some of the bigger PR companies have built out social media departments and they’ve done a great job to varying degrees. But I really want to talk about this because I want to get people thinking about the difference between PR and social.

There are some great things about PR on social: being able to handle pressure and speed. But the big difference really stems from the fact that PR is very B2B. When you’re doing social, it’s much more B2C. You’re dealing with the fans, not the press or the “public” at large.

So you might think “Great! The fans are right there so we can talk to them.” Social media seems like the perfect place to make announcements, right? Maybe. But not actually. PR firms need to take a step back and realize there is such a different cadence and speed on social. There is more listening involved. It’s not an announcement platform, it’s an engagement platform. And to engage, you need to listen.

For example: if you tweet, or post a status, it won’t be heard or seen unless you have sought out and engaged with people who are going to be interested in your content. Those one way announcements won’t work any more. It’s a two way street, and it involves you getting out there, joining conversations on Twitter, finding the hashtag communities on Instagram, and understanding Facebook dark posts till you’re an expert. There is no press conference. There is no set up when you get there. You create that.

So, I don’t have a problem with PR companies doing the social for a business or individual. I just want to make sure they have a different gear running in their brain. They need to know that this is an entirely different game than what they are used to. If they can learn the new behavior, then yes. Run it. And they should learn it. Everybody should. Individuals. Companies. Production companies. Everyone should be engaging properly in 2015. No excuses.

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