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Death of the social media guru

It doesn’t seem like it was that long ago when PR and digital shop Shift Communications, the folks behind the once popular PR Squared blog, first unveiled their version of the “social media news release” (SMR).

At the time, the fresh take on the SMR was quite a revelation to many traditional PR folks, most of whom were beginning to grapple with how to transform the venerable news release into a 21st century tool for newsrooms as well as bloggers and online publishers. Shift’s SMR featured shiny share widgets, cool links to video and photos, and bite-size bits of information and copy ready to be consumed all over the internet.

The SMR also came at a time when countless PR folks and social media pundits like Todd Defren, Shift’s principal voice behind PR Squared and an early chronicler of “social media how-to’s,” were very busy coming up with ways to decipher the high number of  game changers the social web was making in the world of PR and, more importantly, on the myriad of new ways brands began to engage directly with consumers.

As they struggled for answers and insight, most of their chatter focused on ways to complement traditional PR activities with Facebook, Twitter or YouTube. Of course, leading sites like Mashable and Social Media Examiner have since emerged as thoughtful and insightful resources, and while they still do much of those same things over and over again, the focus has shifted. Simple “social media news” has evolved into news and developments in mobile, business, web development, technology, business, and much more.

Milestones big and relatively small continue to feed our fascination with the sheer size and scope of the social platforms and online communities taking over the world. So it is interesting to see those pioneering “social media experts” and pundits are slowly being silenced by the rise of the social web.

At Pilot PMR, we have watched with interest over the past few years as PR agencies inserted digital and social into their list of services – and into their traditional communication strategies. While this might be changing as social becomes more ingrained in the PR DNA, it is not uncommon still for agencies to provide social media services through specialized social media practices which are often fronted by a so-called social media expert.

From our perspective – as storytellers and as marketers – this is a curious approach. Pilot PMR is a PR agency first, with roots in “earned media.” This means that we advance the business goals and vision of our clients through enhanced market credibility, legitimacy and relevance. Whether we are asked to write it, post it, film it, code it or share it – in 140 characters or 14,000 – we always measure success by how memorable, relevant, targeted and timely we can be.

We strongly believe that a good story is a good story. And for this reason we never start with a Facebook strategy, or a blog, or a Twitter feed. We start with identifying what story will be interesting. Then we consider which platforms and social media tools are going to give that story the best chance to be seen and shared.

For us, social media has not turned our world upside down. On the contrary, it has opened doors and allowed us to tell compelling stories in a myriad of new, authentic and disarming ways.


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