The Age of Social Media: What Does It Mean for Public Relations?

The age of social infrastructure platforms has enabled anybody and everybody to have a voice, and to use that voice to communicate far and wide.  This phenomenon has further defined the breadth and depth of responsibilities for PR professionals.  The skills required are not unlike a few referenced by Denise in her recent post “How Switching From Journalism to Public Relations Made Me a Better Communicator” on PR Gumbo. Herewith are some additional thoughts on the essential roles and responsibilities of today’s public relations professional in the age of ubiquitous and asynchronous communications.

  • PR practitioners are no longer gate keepers as they were a decade or so ago between their companies and the media.  PR professionals are activists seeking to engage, enlighten, and energize an organization’s many stakeholders.
  • PR professionals advocate not just for their organizations, but also for their organization’s constituents and stakeholders, which adds the important role of presenting the stakeholders’ interests and views to management.
  • PR practitioners serve as strategic content developers and storytellers, helping their organizations formulate key messages that are resonant and relevant with constituents, the corporate culture and the nature of the organization.
  • PR practitioners help an organization build mutual trust by encouraging transparency and integrity throughout the organization.
  • PR practitioners are counselors who actively advise and guide organizations in honestly communicating and behaving in the best interests of society and constituents such as customers, employees, shareholders and the communities in which they operate.
  • PR professionals are enablers and connectors, helping organizations stay grounded, stay human and stay sensitive to the needs and desires of their communities.  In essence, the role of today’s public relations practitioner is akin to being the conscience of the organization, being ever vigilant to ensuring that the organization is always “doing the right thing.”
  • PR professionals are the “consigliere” for the C Suite.  The consigliere is one of the few in the company who can argue with the boss and challenges the boss and the board when needed to ensure that the CEO has the interests of all stakeholders at heart and behave commensurately.

Gerard (Gerry) F. Corbett, APR, Fellow PRSA, is Founder, Chair and CEO of Redphlag LLC, a strategic branding and communications services and counseling firm, and instructor in the Entrepreneurship Program at UC Berkeley, Extension.  Gerry has more than four decades of technology, PR and marketing experience in several Fortune 200 firms.  He is also past chair and CEO of the Public Relations Society of America, and an avid photographer, career coach and blogger. 

Watch Gerry discuss why his Accreditation in Public Relations is a mark of distinction and a personal best here

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