Today I received a call from a potential client wanting to know if we do “Social media PR.” The answer is of course it’s part of our media mix. There are a lot of PR agencies that tout they are social media agencies and have moved away from traditional PR strategies and best practices. One agency claimed they can do a social media blog campaign for $15,000.00 one time only. $5,000.00 just for the social media release. $10,000.00 for the media/blog campaign. Ouch! Very similar to the .com days when there were not enough web designers to create web sites. A basic one page website averaged 10K and spending 500K for a website wasn’t uncommon. Keep in mind that was still Web 1.0 not even 2.0. So even after a few years, the social media frenzy continues. There’s no secret to writing a social media press release, ….there are online sources for social media releases. Go to http://www.socialmediarelease.org/ or http://www.prxbuilder.com/x2/. There’s no secret on communicating with bloggers. They are just like members of traditional media but with much shorter and immediate deadlines.

As a public relations pro with two decades of experience, I have to step back and ponder if we have gone too far with social media. Instead of educating the social impact and purpose of social media, some agencies are adding to the social media hype that is confusing the market. The same way we adapted from print to online we have quickly adapted from traditional journalism to social media, video diaries, blogs etc. In my opinion, social media is a tool to facilitate communications with the online communities including video and bloggers. There is no hidden secret, no cult or special club these agencies have over LMGPR or any other agency. We are all free to log on, blog on, chat and Twitter with the online blogger world. Some agencies don’t choose to use social media at all….and I don’t recommend that approach.

If you recall, the migration from records to CDs it happened quickly. Likewise, the migration from CDs to iPods was lightening speed. Keeping up with the latest and greatest media tools is part of our professional responsibility. It is also our responsibility to use them wisely. However, many agencies are using social media tools as a “secret sauce”. We have enterprise clients that are less willing to use social media to promote their products. On the flip side we have Web 2.0 and service companies that live and breathe it and as a result a key part of their mix. Our secret sauce is getting our clients solid coverage to move their products or services and position them well in the media—new or old. According to David Spark, media expert, http://www.sparkmediasolutions.com/opinions04.html, there is a lot of ego involved in leveraging the Internet. I’ve spoken to David several times and think he has a good grip on new media, social media and keeping it in to perspective. He’s a former journalist turned media expert. Again, new media is a tool it’s another way to deliver the message…either way David is a journalist, media ace or media super hero. You pick. The bottom line his is using a variety of new media to tools to communicate.

Here’s our guidelines for using new media to better communicate your message:
1. Blend social media with a traditional media campaign
2. Experiment and use blogging, video, Twitter and other tools to see what fits
3. Leverage community sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn to promote your company amongst peers and products
4. Attend social media events…there’s way too many to list here….but got to www.mashable.com and you will get a good start.
5. Don’t hide behind technology. Pick up the phone and chat to a real person in real time….unless it’s not their fancy.
6. Choose what works for you and your clients.

The bottom line is be selective, have fun and don’t take your self too seriously. There will be some other wave of technology we will all be forced to learn, leverage and exploit soon enough.