It wasn’t so long ago that I was sitting on a Brand Hackers panel in New York City debating who owns social media. It was the public relations professionals vs. the digital creatives. Unfortunately, the conversation was off to an ugly start and the debate became heated. Now, for those who know me, you must have heard me say on Twitter, Facebook, on my blog or at one of my speaking events that “no one really owns social media, but we all play an extremely important role.” Nonetheless, we were tasked with debating this topic. One reason I stated why public relations played such a key role in social media was because PR professionals are known to build relationships, and as a result of these strong associations, bring long-term value to our organizations. And, although the PR side took a little bit of a beating that evening, and no one really won the debate, now I feel I’m armed with an even stronger case (and want a “do over”).
In the past three months or so, I’ve really seen some amazing relationship and community building efforts on behalf of the public relations community. If you’ve ever participated in #journchat, #PRStudChat or #PR20 on Twitter, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. These weekly and/or monthly chat sessions are really causing professionals to take notice, gather, interact, and relate to one another in ways that goes far beyond a one or two hour chat session. I see in that both #Journchat and #PRStudchat have conversations occur everyday and people continue to bond and grow their relationships outside of Twitter.
Now, there’s a new grassroots movement that kicks off on Friday February 19th from 10 am – 2 pm CT, involving PR bloggers, agency leaders, and PR professionals from across the country who will donate their time and talents to help fellow PR pros connect with employers. It’s Help a PR Person Out day or #HAPPO. It’s been a tough job market through the recession, but there seems to be a new awakening on the job front in terms of available positions for communications professionals. #HAPPO is an event on Twitter developed to help professionals match up to the right job opportunities, all by having PR professionals share information and champion areas of the country to help peers in their job searches.
Talk about a sense of community and relationship building. Leave it to public relations professionals to create such a wonderful idea to not only help people, but to also to bond together and to drive the importance of mentorship and growth in the PR community. I was asked to get involved by the founders of #HAPPO, Arik Hanson and Valerie Simon. Many other PR champions involved also join me:
- Jeremy Porter (Atlanta)
- Kellye Crane (Atlanta)
- Doug Haslam (Boston)
- Jennifer Wilbur (Southern CA)
- Gini Dietrich (Chicago)
- Lauren Fernandez (Dallas/Fort Worth)
- Richie Escovedo (Dallas/Fort Worth)
- Justin Goldsborough (Kansas City)
- PR Cog (New York Metro)
- Valerie Simon (New York Metro)
- Heather Whaling (Ohio)
- Danny Brown (Toronto)
- Mike Shaffer (Washington, DC)
I only wish that I was sitting on that brand hackers panel now! I would give #journchat, #PRStudChat, #PR20 and #HAPPO as incredible examples of how PR knows how to use and “own” social media to rally the troops, ignite passion and learning and achieve results that help people (whether it’s knowledge and information about the profession or jobs for our fellow peers). Public relations will always be known for forging the best relationships and for creative ways to build community and foster positive sentiment. I feel very proud of my PR community and despite the lumps that communications professionals have taken over the years, we are definitely showing a great and brighter side of what it means to be in public relations today. We are working together to forge new roads and initiatives that clearly illustrate what we do best!
What do you think of the new ways that PR has been building its own communities and how do you feel that we are making a difference with our new approach?