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Why PR lost the social media age

Posted by Ben Smith on 23rd April 2018

Not many industries are truly prepared for radical change. But the PR sector did a spectacularly bad job when social media hit the mainstream 10 years ago. The hard truth is that PR lost the fight to take control of brands’ social presence with barely a whimper. Many PR professionals simply failed to comprehend the radical shift that social media represented and were too slow off the mark to stake out their claims for ownership of these channels.

That lack of foresight has dogged the PR industry ever since.

As a form of public communication, it was perhaps too easily assumed that PR departments would take charge of social media. Instead, marketers were quick to adopt social media platforms as another channel to push out sales collateral and PR’s claim of ‘owning relationships’ quickly fell by the wayside.

Whether PR professionals would have taken social media down a different, more strategic, path is a moot point at this stage. The reality is that the mistakes that were made 10 years ago have made defining our value in the social media age a laborious process — especially as there has been the double whammy of print journalism falling off a cliff.

Now though, just as we have clawed back the ground that was lost, PR professionals potentially find themselves on another precipice — the dawn of the post-social media age.

Our report on the post-social media world has been in the news a lot since we launched it last week — and it’s not hard to see why. The current struggles of the social media majors feel like much more than a blip.

For PR professionals we need to make sure we are not caught out by the possible decline of social media like we were with its rise. It’s particularly important as new communication platforms and technologies will inevitably emerge in the post-social media age. Whatever comes next, PRs cannot afford to be marginalised as they have been in the social media age.

Ben Smith

Ben’s deep knowledge of sectors as diverse as electronics and IT, cleantech and medtech means he has a wide range of experience to draw on for his clients – ensuring that no two campaigns are the same. Ben’s expertise lies in helping his clients to raise their profiles beyond trade media and he has a proven track record in running campaigns that deliver coverage in national, business and consumer publications.