Is it easier to teach a PR person social media than teach a social media person PR?


By Benjamin Haslem

UK-based PR adviser, Stuart Bruce, poses an interesting question: is it better to hire a person who has expertise in PR and then teach them about social media or the other way around - hire the social media expert and teach them PR?

Bruce argues for the former and I tend to agree.

Social Media is just one part of the public relations arsenal. You need to understand the art of communication and you need to be strategic. 

Who are your stakeholders? What are their attitudes to what you are communicating? What are their expectations? How much influence do they have? Will they share what you have to say with others and would they do so enthusiastically and react negatively to being "used"? 

Is Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest or LinkedIn the best channel on which to engage?

Is any social media platform the best forum or would an email, telephone call or even a letter be better?

Bruce quite rightly qualifies his view by stressing that some roles are clearly set out for a social media specialist, such as measurement, analytics, and evaluation, though you also need someone to look at that analysis with a jaundiced eye, to pick up patterns a person not au fait with PR may miss.

"An amazing ability with social media analytics wouldn't be enough when the alternative was someone with broader PR evaluation skills and the ability to learn social media measurement," Bruce writes.

That's not to say a good social media specialist can not shine in broader public relations. Just as I was hired by Jackson Wells after 10 years as a journalist at News Limited and today do more than handle media management.