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'Social media' is dead - long live communications

By George Hulbert, Director of The Clarity Business:

A great article on PR Daily today – 'Why we're all social media managers' – raised a question I have wondered about for a while: "Why does social media portray itself as its own niche?"

The author, Kevin Allen, argues that all communicators are social media managers. "Social media is certainly not novel anymore," he says. "More PR pros, marketers, and communicators—including this author—have some variation of "social" in their job title. Even more will have social media in their job description."

And then he asks the killer question: "Why cordon off social media? Shouldn't it be the connective tissue between PR and marketing?"

I totally agree. Social media is no longer new enough to need a niche name to raise its profile. It is now A communications channel, part of a mix that includes others right across the online and offline spectrum.

Admittedly, it is a highly interactive environment with massive power and potential, the like of which we could not have dreamed about ten years ago, but it is one way of engaging and communicating, one of many within the communications mix.

And, to take a different perspective, I'd suggest that 'social media consultancies' that only provide services in this area run the risk of missing the bigger picture. While I have been grateful for – and befitted from - specialist advice from some excellent social media experts, surely any discipline that operates in isolation has the potential to disregard other - equally valuable, even if decreasingly fashionable - communications channels.

After all, not every tool is appropriate for every occasion: the value that we as communicators add is in finding and working within the right mix of channels to engage and interact with a desired audience. Which in my view is another strike against the term 'social media', because it focuses on the medium and not the audience.

So, while I totally agree with Kevin that the PR industry "is bound for a renaissance" because we are all in reality social media managers to one extent or another – any communicator who doesn't engage with this phenomenally effective medium needs their head examined – I'd add that any communicator worth his or her salt should keep it as one tool in a wider kit.

Do you agree – what do you think?

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The Clarity Business helps people and organisations to communicate across a variety of analog and digital channels.