Social Media is Just ONE Tool in the Toolbox

Like I mentioned in my previous post, I had the privilege of attending the Kansas City PRSSA Day this weekend hosted by Kansas City PRSA, Public Relations Society of America. One of the common themes throughout the day was emphasizing that social media is not the end all be all. Just because we are young and understand social media, does not mean we will automatically land a job. Public relations is more than a shiny, new toy.

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Social Media is a New Way to Communicate with People

It is important to understand that social media is just one tool in the public relations professional’s toolbox. Just because it is new, shiny and yellow, does not mean we need to forget about all the other element of a PR campaign. I read on Twitter a tweet from a social media conference that said if you have social media in your title you might as well be the “director of telephones.” This witty commentary illustrates how we have glorified social media into something other than it is: a new way to communicate with people.

It was interesting hearing professionals hit on this point over and over on Friday, and I have to agree with them. However, it is the first time I heard so many social media questions avoided at a conference because it is just a tool. The “shininess” of social media had definitely worn off for these professionals.

Reading, Writing and Relationships

Many students, including myself, may have the illusion that being social media savvy is going to hand them a job. Who doesn’t want to be on Twitter all day and get paid for it? However, we need to remember as students the other elements of public relations: reading, writing and relationships. We cannot hide behind a computer everyday. We cannot forget about the relations part of our title.

Not only should students be social media savvy, but we also need to have solid writing samples, be well-read and be able to carry a good conversation with strangers. Social media is great, and it is evolving the way we communicate on a daily basis. But don’t forget about the people behind the social media profiles.

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4 thoughts on “Social Media is Just ONE Tool in the Toolbox

  1. Wonderful post Bethany! Social media is so often focused on in our classroom discussions. It’s getting to be very difficult to even remember what are the other aspects of PR. Creating and maintaining relationships should be the main focus. PR students (and even some professionals) could probably use a refresher in what are the exact responsibilities of a PR professional.

  2. Yes, yes, yes! I feel like this is an area of disconnect among our peers. There is so much focus on social media that often important PR skills are forgotten. It’s all about being well-rounded. Thanks for the post!

  3. I know this is way after the fact, but I had to comment. I love this post! I swing from one extreme to the other, obsessed with blogs, Facebook and Twitter one day to shunning the seemingly egotistical self-centered spotlight the next. You really nailed the correct perspective, that these are simply tools. If a person is ill-equipped to deal with the other important aspects of forming personal or professional relationships, it does not matter how witty or eloquent his or her tweets or current Facebook status happen to be.

    I knew you had this blog, but you started it after my massively burdensome schedule descended. As well as my lack of internet and waning blog focus. But I am aiming for a come-back, Justin Timberlake style:) And refollowing all your lovely blogs are part of the plan. Love it!

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