Social Media vs. Traditional PR

The two JB classes that I have this semester are Social Media and Advanced PR Media. They are both great classes that I thoroughly enjoy, but lately I’ve been wondering which will be most beneficial to me in the long run. Once I get out into the real world of PR, what will be the more marketable skill?

One major argument for social media that we always hear is that as a younger generation, we have a bit of an edge on those who came before us. We grew up IM’ing on AOL and surfing the Internet, and for the incoming freshman and those behind them, grew up with Myspace and Facebook. So we are naturally more comfortable with blogging, tweeting, etc. than someone who has been in the PR world for 20+ years  would be. I started the semester knowing not much at all other than how to use my Facebook, and now I feel that I have many great skills to offer in the area of social media. However, anyone can learn, so is this something that is really that valuable? As we’ve learned in JB 4520, at any site, whether it be Twitter or Visual CV, there is an instructional video to walk you through the entire process. Also, just about every company or organization out there has a presence on the Internet. So I’m sure being able to say I have had a class teaching me the specifics of all of these different types of media will be impressive.

Traditional PR, however, isn’t something that you can just log on and learn. Of course I’m sure there are sites telling you how to write a press release or that can teach you AP style, but isn’t this something that really should be taught in a classroom and drilled into your head? I have had more than 20 hours of PR specific courses, and some of the technicalities still make me a bit nervous. In my Advanced PR Media course we are learning to use InDesign and Photoshop to create brochures, newsletters, fliers, etc. , which are things any good PR practitioner will need to know how to do. Again, this is something that should help in the job search.

So when it comes down to it, is either set of skills more valuable than the other? Or has the world of PR come to the point that in order to be secure that you are doing the best job possible, you need to be a “guru” in both areas? Either way, I can rest assured that I’m getting a great education in both areas. Thoughts, anyone?



About celcash

I am engaged and living in Frisco, TX with my fiance Arsen and our furry child Addie. I currently work in social media, and Arsen works in Finance. I spend my free time fixing up our new house and coming up with random ways to get out my creative energy. I have loved being engaged, but am ready to get the show on the road and be married already! View all posts by celcash

3 responses to “Social Media vs. Traditional PR

  • skylarlitton

    I’m in both classes right now, as well. I think each will help me in the future.
    I like Advanced PR because you learn about InDesign, Photoshop, etc., which is a huge deal in the PR world. At my internship now, pretty much one of the main things we use is InDesign. Social Media helps me with learning how to use all the fast and approaching social media tools, which will also help..i’ve also asked which one is more would be interesting to see a professionals though on this..

  • Rob Crissinger

    Good question Celeste. The short answer is that you have to be good at everything.

    Whether you’re looking for a job in state government, nonprofit, corporate, agency, etc., the most important things you need to bring to the table are strong, versatile writing, the ability to speak with confidence and articulate your thoughts clearly in a one-on-one setting or in front of a group, a great work ethic, a professional appearance and a positive attitude.

    You’ve got to be a good listener, and a voracious consumer of all types of media. And in this industry, it never hurts to be ambitious and socially well-connected.

    All that being said, having the ability to generate consistent, positive publicity for your organization or client has always been and is still the number one thing you can do as an entry-level PR person to establish yourself as a competent practitioner and build the trust of your employer (the larger goal is to earn a seat at the board room table, providing top-level management with counsel regarding decisions with the potential to impact the public perception of the organization).

    New media and online social networking is the future of our industry — and the future of business and traditional media — so having knowledge and experience in this emerging area is a good way to get your foot in the door with potential employers.

    A lot of people will say that new media is the beginning of the end of PR, because anyone can learn to effectively use tools like Twitter, facebook, friendfeed, flickr, etc. etc. When I hear this, I always remind people that these tools are only tools, a medium for communicating and sharing ideas. Tools will never replace a need for people who understand the science of effective communication.

    Just because you can say something to a lot of people at once very easily doesn’t mean that you should. PR practitioners understand how to use different forms of media to communicate the right message, to the right audience at the right time to create awareness, educate, influence attitude and opinions, and ultimately move people to positive action.

    Hope this wasn’t too much of a ramble. Yes, you should be good at both publicity and social media.


  • james g

    The ability to capture a market using social media such as, twitter, you tube, etc.. is business critical in today’s market provided you know how to convey/write the message.

    I would look at latest technology, like Apple applications instead of website design as we are moving toward handheld devices rapidly instead of laptops/desktops.

    James G.

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