Amith Prabhu: Public Relations has a bigger stake in Social Media than any other stream

23 Sep,2013

By Amith Prabhu


This one is special because it is the first one I’m writing sitting in India after I began this column in June. For the record, all the previous columns were written out of Chicago. This trip to India is special as I’m visiting to help organise the only weekend Public Relations summit that takes place later this week at Lavasa. What struck me about this week is that India will host its first Social Media Week in Mumbai. Having attended a few social media week events in Chicago earlier this year I know important the series of events that unfold are. A range of events take place at various venues giving people a chance to learn, network and share in the realm of social media.


Why would one choose to write a PR column on the social media week? The answer is simple. Social media is the becoming the new traditional media in Public Relations the world over. The eternal debate of who owns social will never be answered but the common sense answer is that smart firms that recognise the potential and advances of social media will own this space. Ad agencies that offer earned media solutions. PR firms that offer media buying services and Media planning companies that offer creative ideas that can be smartly executed in the owned and eared space will lead the way.


The overlaps are taking place and organisations are investing heavily in acquiring the right talent. Ad agencies and PR firms have created or are in the process of creating business units that cater to social media for existing clients or for new clients that want to be marketed only through this medium. Numerous social media shops are mushrooming offering tweeting, posting and blogging services. Where does all this lead to? To the point where the debate of who owns social media unravels. In my opinion, there will never be a clear answer but if there is one group who will have a greater stake in this business it is those who have traditionally worked in PR firms.


Social media is about conversations that organisations and brands have online with stakeholders that can emerge from the stakeholder or from the organisation. But ultimately the external stakeholder – most often the client or customer has his or her way on this medium which can break or make reputations. Public Relations therefore plays a huge role in owning a large chunk of this space. This week two events are taking place in this space. One is the Mumbai chapter of the global Social Media Week and the other is the second edition of PRAXIS. While one has PR people in the list of speakers and advisory board, the other has social media champs playing a variety of roles.


Three cheers to the growth of social and to the growth of social in the world of Public Relations. May the social media week go to many more Indian cities and may the Indian citizen continue to exploit all that social media has to offer. There is no quicker, cheaper and closer stakeholder outreach than that which takes place on social media.


Amith Prabhu is founder of The PRomise Foundation which organises PRAXIS – the annual summit for PR & Corp Comm professionals in India. During the day he is a full-time employee at a leading PR firm’s Chicago office. Views expressed here are the author’s own and don’t represent those of his past, present, future employer or of MxMIndia. You can connect with him on Twitter @amithpr


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