SOCIAL MEDIUM WAVES

It’s a struggle these days to find a traditional PR agency that offers, or admits to offering, old school media relations as its core service.  The traditional agencies have adopted, acquired or built digital teams and repositioned themselves. Across the UK, Facebook has captured the attention of 30 million people.  10 million of them have Twitter accounts too.  Social meeja has become both the nerd’s revenge and the new black.

This is entirely understandable.  Social media enables businesses to engage in ‘conversations’ with customers in new ways and too listen to what those customers are saying about their brands, their products and services in real time.

Social media has also given birth to a new vocabulary, with terms such as return on influence, search engine optimisation, social search and content curation.  In the analogue days, we called content curation ‘research and filing’, but we can’t restrain progress.

While still relatively immature as an industry, social media has successfully passed the technology exam and the maths test and has now graduated to college.  It might have been considered for a university place but Facebook mucked up its IPO.

Some people are amazed at the number of social media advisors and consultants that have sprung up in recent years.  A combination of hype and fear among business leaders has always bred consultants and social media is no exception.  It has created a skills gap, too.

The PR industry went through a similar growth spurt in the late 1980s and early 1990s are businesses fell under the spell of the new religion of public relations. Each new PR consultancy that sprung up fathered several more as individuals left to set up their own operations.  The industry expanded fast but struggled to find the skills and quality it needed.  PR’s reputation and credibility as a profession almost didn’t survive the experience.

I’m a social media disciple and proof that old dogs can learn new tricks.  Social platforms have already changed the way we communicate, learn, interact and engage and has changed forever the way the comms dept works.

So what’s my point?  You could argue that the first social media platform was invented 100 years ago. Through advanced mobile technology, radio offered the ability for people, for the first time, to interact both globally and hyper-locally. Radio offered the opportunity for direct engagement with end users. Unlike Facebook, it had ‘the wireless problem’ licked.

Today, over 90 percent of the UK population listen to radio every week.  That’s more than Facebook. More than Twitter. The technology behind this wireless platform has evolved too.  Today, radio is digital, available over the web and available as an app to download for the iPhone too.

With so much attention being paid to social media, why do so many talk radio production teams faced with hours of on-air debate and discussion to fill, feel they could do with something more than an irrelevant press release sent their way from time to time?

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