PR is part of marketing, marketing is not part of PR. When consumers ask a brand about their product or have a question or comment they want to speak to someone who KNOWS the answer, not a PR person who they feel is just a corporate mouthpiece.
In the last three years I have a led a lot of research with consumers and social media and one key finding is that consumers don’t want to talk to PR people on social media; they want to talk to people, who they feel, can answer their questions and take note of the comments. If I have a question about my Trek bike I want it both answered in Internet time and by someone who knows the answer. I don’t want to have to wait for a PR person to find the answer or give me some fall praise for a post about my love of bike riding.
Who should Own Social Media?
This question came up during a lively debate on Twitter. If social media is viewed as a branding and marketing function to drive marketing objectives it should be handled by someone within marketing who understands the brand and its customers. Why in the wide, wide world of sports would you want it done by a PR person who is not going to have the in-depth knowledge of basic marketing research around your customers, product and brand?
Social Media is About Users, Not you!
The worst thing any brand can is to use social media as “broadcast” channel. Consumers don’t have time to listen to broadcasts, they want a dialogue and they want to know you’re listening. If you’re a Twitter user and you leave your phone for 2-3 hours there is a good chance that you’re going to have a lot of Tweets in your feed when you get back. You’re going to scan them quickly, not read each one, and brands that Tweet irrelevant information are going to become even more irrelevant to consumers who don’t like to be broadcast to.