Did Social Media RUIN Public Relations?


social media vs. public relations A few months back, I met with a friend who insisted that social media was ruining public relations (insert eye roll emoji here). This friend expressed her concern about potential clients who see the word public relations and automatically think social media. But, is that really such a bad thing for the industry?

When I was in school at THE Florida State University, the social media craze was just beginning. Facebook, the social powerhouse was expanding its reach. Twitter was all the rage. And LinkedIn was changing the entire professional networking makeup. Social media was making its mark and in my biased opinion, public relations, was the only industry that could easily integrate social media into their current work. Marketing enthusiasts may argue this point. But the truth of the matter is that marketing and social media became much better partners when targeted posts, advertisements and more tangible components of measurable bottom line effects were put into place.

In the mid 2000’s PR firms jumped on the idea of offering their clients more than just the one off press release and pitch to targeted media outlets. They were able to use the communications materials they already had and their thorough knowledge of their clients’ brand, and turn it into social media content that would help in building beneficial relationships between organizations and their publics.

Social media, before the heavy revenue generating days of pay to play, embodied the essence of public relations. Mutually beneficial relationships. And it still does!

That is why so many PR firms created digital teams to better serve their clients. We already had the message. We already knew what the brand was trying to portray. And now, instead of having to convince reporters to talk about our clients we had a direct line to the very customers our clients were trying to get in front of.

Social media, changed public relations, but it didn’t wipe public relations out. Too many times, we see articles about the press release being dead; or about public relations professionals not being able to build relationships with reporters. All of these are just excuses. The press release isn’t dead. Maybe your story just isn’t compelling.

The art of traditional public relations may not be as heavily taught as it once was, but it is still effective. Especially, when used in conjunction with social media.

Social media changed the face of PR. Any PR professional would agree. Whether you think it is ruining public relations, well that is a rather close-minded opinion.

Marcus Lemonis, said it best, ‘If you’re not evolving, your dying.’

Clearly many PR firms didn’t want to dig their own grave by ignoring the social boom. By quickly evolving to integrate social media into their list of services, some would say, that social media saved PR! But… that is another blog post for another day!

Let’s just leave with this, public relations and social media are two separate entities that when used together properly, can do wonders for your business.

Do you think social killed PR?  Sound off below!


The Burnette Agency offers public relations and social media services to a variety of clients. For more information on our services, please visit our website or email us at info@theburnetteagency.com