By John Fitzpatrick
I recently made a long overdue trip home to Ireland—18 months is a long time to be away from family, but it made it all that more special.
On my return to Dublin, I met my former colleagues from Elevate PR for lunch. Elevate gave me my first taste of PR as an intern—and what a taste it was! I learned a lot when I was there in 2006, however, in looking back, social media was not even a focus of our campaigns. It was only until I moved to the U.S. and began working at SHIFT in 2007 that I really got to dive into social media and understand not only its importance, but its effectiveness. Specifically in the past year, I have really been able to experience social media up close, and while it’s been challenging trying to keep up, it’s been amazing to see its evolution.
A year ago I would have been amazed to see an advertisement that contained a Twitter logo, or to hear Rihanna’s lyrics include the question, “where them bloggers at?” While I’m hesitant to say it, social media is now cool. But as I discussed this with my former Elevate co-workers last week, it became clear that the social media evolution hadn’t become “cool” everywhere just yet. Their clients have not yet reached the point of requesting full-scale social media campaigns, but they’re being proactive by educating themselves. And, just as SHIFT did several years ago, that will make a big difference when the evolution comes.
At SHIFT, our team recently embarked on transitioning a traditional PR client to a social media campaign. Six months in, it has been quite an experience filled with wins, losses and a couple of in-betweens, but it was a learning curve that I won’t forget. Our VP told us that this campaign was a great training course for the future. I think he was right!
As we move into 2010, it will be fascinating to see what lies ahead for social media. We at SHIFT still hear “I know we have a Twitter account, but why? Isn’t it all BS?”—and it’s our job to educate them. Over a year ago, with 150 followers on Twitter, to say I was engaged is an understatement; but fast-forward to the present and with more than 700 followers and successful conversations with reporters and analysts under my belt, I’m seeing traction and rewards in my personal and professional life. Take Facebook for example: we see massive traffic from our fan page to the Slice blog, traffic that simply would not have existed two years ago.
So if I had any advice for people starting out, it would be that while the word is definitely out there that social media is effective and can be an essential part of any marketing/PR initiative, first, you need to believe in it.