Why the future of PR lies in Social Media

Editor’s Note: The following is the first post by Keith O’Brien explaining why he’s leaving PRWeek to join Attention. Keith starts at Attention on April 29th.

For the last five years, I have worked at PRWeek, where I most recently held the title editor-in-chief. My decision to leave the publication for a position at Attention reflects in part my belief that the public relations industry is fundamentally changing. People no longer solely consume top-down media, they create and share their own. This explosion in content, coupled with the finite amount of consumer attention, means brands must figure out new, creative ways to communicate. It is an exciting time for media and marketing, and I’d like be involved directly.

I saw this change happen firsthand at PRWeek, both through our ongoing coverage of social media campaigns and also as we engaged with our core audience through the blogging, Facebook, and Twitter. I learned, as all publications now must, that your job does not end when your article is published. You must actively engage.

I’ve seen a great deal of change in both how the media operates and how brands communicate. While the traditional media still holds sway, the emergence of brands as storytellers has significantly altered the dissemination of information. True, traditional media establishments focused on reaching consumers still have significant audiences, but organizations can just as easily reach those same consumers through content that is engaging, thoughtful, and worthwhile.

All marketing disciplines are acutely aware that resources and dollars will continue to go online as more people gravitate online. Soon, we will throw out tired phrases like digital natives and realize that demographics are made mostly irrelevant as grandparents video chat with grandsons/daughters, 50 year-olds check Wikipedia to settle an argument, and so on.The time for demographics has passed. People, regardless of age, race, or upbringing, are uniting with others based on their interests, hobbies, and life goals. Much of the previous theories of outreach must be rethought.

Additionally, we know that influence and reach is not strictly a numbers game. It’s not enough to count impressions and call it a day. The true value for organizational outreach is in finding the right community linchpins and working with them to disseminate the appropriate message.

There is still much to figure out. I invite you to follow the developments on the Attention blog, as well as my Twitter feed. Thanks very much for reading, and I look forward to continuing the discussion with you in the future. I can’t wait to get started on April 29th.

-Keith

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