Stop the Silly Social Media Ownership Battles

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Much fuss has been made in various marketing, PR and advertising circles about the supposed “death” of traditional media and marketing. They were to have become a sort of vestigal organ of the new-wave social and digital marketing scene. 

As reality would have it, things haven’t quite worked out that way. Whether it’s continuing reports of traditional media – such as newspapers and TV – feeding much of the content we consume via social media, or collaborative efforts on behalf of competing marketers to increase their power, today’s marketing scene is more about the vast opportunities now available because of digital opening new doors, rather than who is winning which battles and how.

At least, that’s how it should be. While debate rages in the PR industry about who “owns” social media (hint: a recent study found that even ad executives believe PR is making better use of social media), many are (thankfully) starting to move past these petty squabbles and have begun advocating for a reality check:

Traditional and digital can and should live side by side and work together harmoniously.

That’s essentially what Mark Choueke, editor of the UK’s Marketing Week, expressed in a recent editorial. Noting that a coalition of British newspaper companies has developed a collaborative ad-buying package to raise interest in their offering to advertisers, he makes the smart distinction that digital hasn’t killed anything. It has helped return the excitement to industries – such as PR and marketing – that were once left for dead.

PR has much to learn from this lesson.

Our business, like many others, seems to be stuck in never-ending turf wars between advertising, marketing, social and who knows what else is out there now, over who “owns” what. But that shouldn’t be the point. 

Rather than trying to claim ownership of some inanimate thing, such as social media, why don’t we collaborate with our allied industry peers to increase all of our services’ value to clients? In constantly shifting business and consumer markets, can we really afford to waste our time engaging in debates that clients could care less about?

I don’t mean to degrade these discussions, because there is some merit to them. But we must come to the realization that a concept that once seemed preposterous to many marketers — collaboration with competitors — is fast becoming the norm for modern PR, marketing and advertising initiatives.

And that’s not a bad thing, so long as we continue to innovative and don’t allow ourselves to become complacent knowing that a competing marketer can pick up the slack for us. Competition is indeed a great thing, but so is a collaborative sense that helps build many industry’s overall value to consumers and brands.

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  • Sherrilynne

    Good post. Thanks for the link¬

  • Nick Stamoulis

    The best marketing approach is one that’s diversified. You should never rely on just one strategy, whether it be traditional or “new”. It’s best to use a combination of both.

    • Keith Trivitt

      Nailed it, Nick. I couldn’t have said it better myself. Diversification across all channels is what makes for successful marketing and comms. And that doesn’t require one side or the other to “own” social media. We just need to focus on integrating our messages well and managing the flow of content and conversations across traditional and digital channels.

  • Keith Trivitt

    One line I wish I had added to the original post (h/t to @john_trader1 who wrote this to me on Twitter): Collaboration is key for progress.


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  • Amerante

    I think that PR has already collaborated with the other mentioned media areas. I don’t think someone can get by solely as a PR professional, I that they have to have marketing, and advertising skills. This of course makes the industry, I think, somewhat smaller, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. I think that if people stop worrying about the every changing media world and embrace the new diverse ways of social media, then the products can only show for that.

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