The Social Media Challenge

The era of Social Media is upon us and we no longer have the luxury to prepare for the future. We are living in the future and social media is an integral part of everyday life, which means the practice of PR will no doubt be changing with the times as well.

The term social media refers to the paradigm shift that we are currently experiencing through the rise of media content online. It also encompasses social networking sites, search engines and online news. Social Media is considered to be a paradigm shift because it is changing the way people get information and therefore will change the way we, as PRs, will be giving information. Traditional media, as we all know, is a one way communication model that simply puts information out for the consumer to have, not taking into account what that consumer wants or is looking for. The consumer in this case is considered to be a passive observer of media. Social media flips traditional media on its head by offering the consumer the chance to be active. With the help of the internet and social networks, the consumer can now search for exactly what they want and can also engage in conversations with not only, a certain company or entity, but with others wanting the same information.

Social media has not only revolutionized how people speak with each other, but will revolutionize how PR will be practiced. PR can now go directly to the audience (providing there is already an audience in place) or can build an audience through social media. Sites like facebook, youtube, twitter and myspace are visited by more than 50% of their users at least once a day. These sights could potentially over take personal email as the #1 reason for going on the web. Having said that, social media is revolutionizing public relations because this two way model of communications is now at the center of all public relations. Public relations strategies will now included social media in order to reach a wider range of the audience and ensure that all mediums are being used (i.e. traditional media and social media.)

Using all mediums, the scope of audience being reached grows exponentionally. This allows PR practitioners to speak to more people at one time, but also allows the people that are receiving this information to exchange ideas, concepts and opinions with each other. The free flowing information will change everything for PR because it breaks down the one way communication model and now all audiences have the ability to speak directly to companies.

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