You can’t own an entire communications channel, just ask the Murdoch’s

According to the latest PR GAP study, PR “owns” social media. More than a quarter of companies they surveyed stated that they gave 80 per cent or more of the budgetary control of social media to PR. In addition to control of the budget, almost a quarter said that PR is also the strategic lead when it comes to social media. But, does PR really own social media? Can you possibly own an entire communications channel? The answer is no.

Does advertising own TV? Media buyers outdoor display? Do the spin doctors and publicists get the red tops? Again, no….PR doesn’t own social media, we just get it more than the other disciplines. Ask any PR person what the key to their success is and they’ll tell you – developing and maintaining relationships with a diverse range of media, making sure that the conversations they’re having with each one is both meaningful and rewarding. It’s this that put’s PR in the driving seat when it comes to social media, but it doesn’t give us ownership of it.

This space is going to require a truly integrated approach to make it work, having a conversation is fine, but what are you going to talk about, what do you want to share? Ultimately, the question is this – what’s your brand story? This isn’t a PR-only job, it’s a wider job that requires brains from our buddies in advertising, branding, media buying, research. Don’t agree? Put it this way, if PR owned TV, there wouldn’t be any TV.

So, I go back to my initial point – you can’t own an entire communications channel. But there is something that you can own in social media – you brand story. But like any good story, it’s got a lot of different characters involved, many twists and turns and ultimately, that story means something different to everyone that reads it….you get me?

SEO Vs PR: is there really a battle for Social Media?

I am fully prepared for a whole heap of disagreements on what I am about the write, but after sharing a link on Twitter about the so-called “battle for social media”, I thought I’d actually get my thoughts down. The article in question was by Andrew Girdwood and can be found here.

As I said the first time I read the article, I think that it’s an interesting take on the situation and I agree with it for the most. One part that I do disagree with is that “online PR” and “social media PR” are separate entities – they aren’t, they are part of the whole PR mix. Yes, there’s a different level of understanding required, yes there are different approaches, but it’s still PR.

Throughout my career, a few things have always stuck with me and one was an old MD of mine who used to say “the best skills for the job”. As such, she never looked at her agency as the consumer team, the technology team or the online team – she actually used to think in terms of “who’s my best radio person”, or “who gets killer pieces in the tabloids” and so on. I think that it’s the same for any client today – the best skills for the job.

I guess what I’m trying to say here is that clients require a whole host of skills to get the job done. For instance, the launch of a new product might involve messaging developed by corporate PR, seeding by digital/social media PR and execution by consumer PR all backed up by a solid SEO programe. It’s not just one thing. Which kind of leads me on to the bit where I agree with Andrew – It’s about working together within the wider marketing mix. Solid marketing programmes need “the best skills” and that means PR, advertising, SEO, experiencial and so on….whatever the client’s needs are.

Where I see the difference from a PR point of view is the actual conversation. We’re not SEO specialists, sure, I understand SEO and I integrate it into the work I do where I can. Ultimately, I’d love to work more closely with SEO peeps to get my content and conversations working harder. But that’s what we’re about, the conversation…. that’s out Kung Fu if you will. And that’s where I might upset people, I don’t SEO fulfilling that role,  I see that as purely PR.

My closing thoughts – I just go back to what my old MD said – “the best skills for the job”

The Closet: Are you in or out?

I love it when I come across awesome web experiences, when a brand or agency produce something that is amazing to look at. I remember meeting a creative director for a sister ad agency and chatting about social media to him.

It was all a bit new to him, but he really wanted to understand more about it. One thing he said really stuck in my mind – “When I started in this industry, it was all about creating something so f**king beautiful that the audience not only didn’t mind that you were interrupting their TV, they actually thanked you for it.”

Not a lot has changed as far as that sentiment goes, except nowadays the audience is much larger and you need to engage with your audience. Which is why I love this new site from IKEA called Come into the closet.


First off, it’s absolutely beautiful, second it’s quirky and fun, thirdly it’s engaging. OK, there might not be too much depth to that engagement, but in this instance perhaps there doesn’t need to be