PR And Social Media Survey: Mixed Findings For 2011

Vocus has released their 2011 Planning Survey and there are some very interesting findings and stats highlighted in the report. This year Vocus teamed up with Deirdre Breakenridge to produce their PR planning report.

As Breakenridge points out, corporations are realizing that social conversations about their brand will happen with or without them (and as always, I have to stress that these conversations have been going on forever) so, it’s best to be a part of that conversation: “be where your customers are, remember?”.

She also observes that small social victories for organizations which dipped their feet into social this year will lead to more focus next year.

Vocus surveyed 508 professionals, with about half being PR and the rest a mix of social media specialists, advertisers and search marketing professionals.

23% of respondents said marketing is leading the social media charge with PR contributing and 22% said PR is leading their efforts with a variety of departments chipping in. Wrong, according to me. More department should be involved in a cross-channel customer world where everyone in your business should look in the same direction: people and value.

In general, respondents felt social media budgets would improve as compared to 2010. 42% expect budgets to “increase somewhat” or “increase significantly” while 29% responded the same last year. Also, 20% felt budgets would “decrease somewhat” or “decrease significantly” as opposed to 29% that indicated that in last year’s report. Of those surveyed, the most optimistic group was search professionals and advertisers.

How much of your relations and brand do you “own”?

Organizations certainly seem to think they are right in the thick of social media and participating. When asked about social media maturity, 67% responded that they are actively involved and contributing to social media.

Vocus survey PR social media maturity

Even so I have to wonder how public relations will truly find its place in social media. Is PR best placed for social media? PR people seem to wonder themselves since 60% said PR will be more challenging in 2011, amongst others due to social media. On top of that, there seems to be some consensus on marketing taking the lead and PR providing assistance. According to me, more divisions should be involved.

And anyway, customer relationships are, however you look at them, not only about “public” relations (and, yes, journalists, bloggers and media are your customers as well). How much can you manage these relations in the era of the “public”?

Companies don’t “own” conversations anymore (or better: they never have, they only owned broadcasting) so it follows that they can’t really expect to fully own their brand either. You are not pushing information out on your schedule anymore – that is being dictated by consumers with a core of influencers who carry a great deal of weight across multiple channels.

Take a good look at your corporate culture and consider if you really are an active participant in the social media channel and all the others which today’s cross-channel consumers thrive in.

Are you looking at new ways to do things to connect and interact with them or are you trying to shoe-horn the new consumer into what amounts to outdated processes and procedures?

The full survey results can be found (with registration) on the Vocus website.