RECRUITING FOR PR 2.0Sarah Williams, Manchester Metropolitan UniversitySimon Collister, London College of CommunicationJennifer Challenor, English Mutual
The PR consultant of today faces a communications landscape almost unrecognisable compared to that of 20years ago. While both veterans and novices need to develop and maintain a new and evolving toolkit, the rise of social media has made some of the fundamental skills of the PR profession more valuable than ever (Bhurji, in CIPR, 2012)
SHIFT IN FOCUS Broadcast to conversation Control to engagement Industry scaremongering: shape up or ship out
AIMS How is the phenomenon of social media impacting on the practice of public relations? Key questions include: How are practitioners tackling the transition from old PR practice to new? Do the changes to the industry in the past few years represent a linear transition or a radical break that can be ‘managed’? Is it sufficient to be familiar with social media and are practitioners sufficiently competent to engage?
KEY THEMES IN LITERATURE Literature is mainly functional and practitioner focussed Texts considered purport to of fer advice on social media management to practitioners Dichotomy: Solis’ industry in flux (2012) versus Holmes’ (2009) business as usual approach Bhurji (2012) envisages multi -disciplinary teams rather than wonder practitioners Discourse of ‘disruption’ risks simplifying the complexities of transition Reflexive evolution not revolution
THE Y-SHAPED PRACTITIONER (BHURJI, 2012) technology content storytelling
METHODOLOGY• Social phenomenological research involving eight participants working in the field• Qualitative interviews aimed at understanding practitioner views about how social media is influencing their practice.• Interviews analysed for significant statements which were then organised into themes.
PARTICIPANTSName Position Field In-house/ agencyMatt Managing Director Financial Services AgencyMartin Head of Digital & Financial Services Agency SocialLucy Head of Comms Financial Services In-HouseClaire PR Manager Arts In-HouseStuart Head of Comms Local Government In-HouseJane Managing Director Consumer AgencyZoe Managing Director Consumer AgencyHugo Head of Comms Financial Services In-House
FINDINGS •Rejection of the idea of ‘old’ skills ‘new’ v •Steady transition v quick change •Unwillingness to change related to age or seniority‘old’ PRStrategic •SM seen as tactical not strategic •Fear of losing control is a barrier to adoption of SMv tactical •Resourcing: ‘social media doesn’t switch off at 5.30 so neither can you’ •Technical skills: photography and video
DISCUSSION Maintaining traditional practices in the face of new and emerging developments SM conceptualised in two ways: Narrow, tactical definition as a broadcast tool Or as a strategic relational tool SM has encouraged further blurring of the boundaries between PR and other cognate sectors Responsibility & relationships Control and visibility
CONCLUDING THOUGHTS Sensationalism is rejected by practitioners who favour a more blended approach to PR 2.0 CPD plays an important role as practitioners self-diagnose areas of weakness Evolution not revolution