PR & IT: An Epic Sibling Rivalry

Posted on January 4, 2011

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Dog and Cat FacesAs someone with an obsession with technology and a more recent passion for PR, I have always had trouble understanding why IT staff and PR (or Public Affairs) staff can’t work as a team. I see many organizations who want to jump into social media rely on their IT staff to deploy it or worse yet, manage it.

Like I said, I’m no stranger to Technology, but I see a problem. IT knows about the nasty viruses on Facebook apps or the problems with geo-tagging your Twitpics, but they are not PR practitioners. Does your IT staff know how to fully engage this new-found online community?

Even more basic, the use of new media needs to be part of a broader communications plan. Twitter is a tactic; not a strategy. The boss may want the organization on Facebook, but the next question should be ‘why’ not ‘how’. Why gets to how it fits in the big communications picture.  “How” is the technical side. Yes, they are both important, but one doesn’t jump in a car and drive down random streets hoping to get to your destination. Why would you do that without directions and a destination in mind?

Sometimes the boss says Facebook because they saw their kids using it. Is that a compelling reason to spend time and resources? A PR professional knows to ask and counsel. The CIO will instinctively jump to the technical means and maybe consider the ends. He/she may consult IT colleagues about Facebook settings never once considering the PR person who is intimately familiar with using it sitting down the hall.

My observation is that IT and PR departments seem to be competing for some kind of social media glory. It’s really an area that calls for true teamwork and I would suggest that both siblings remember that PR is the content provider/advisor/strategist for new media. IT needs to keep its focus on the effective delivery of the message and innovate resources such as archiving and network access.  By working together, these siblings can achieve so much more. Otherwise it’s just black eyes, split lips and busted egos.

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