Social Media Has Changed PR Forever

This Wednesday night, I will be participating as a panelist for “Making A Connection: The Business of Social Networking” event which the NY-metro chapter of Woman In Sports & Events is hosting at the New York Times. The event will explore what exactly is social networking? How does it all work and who is using it an why?

My fellow panelists are Terry Dry, President of Fanscape, Inc.; Sandra Fathi, President and Founder of Affect Strategies and Kerry Stranman, Group Strategy Director of Strawberry FrogShaun Koiner, Integrated Marketing Manager, Social Media for SI Digital will moderate.

Two years ago, I would have collapsed from laughter if you told me that I would be considered as a panelist for such an event.  At that stage, I was just beginning to understand how the social media landscape worked as I watched younger staff engage in the process.  Now, as I myself have put my big toe into the social media pool, I have realized that in order to continue to succeed in this profession, I would need to swim in its waters. 

We are in a new age that is constantly changing.  When I was an assistant publicity director at Yonkers Raceway in 1985 I remembered what a big deal it was when we got our first fax machine. Imagine, being able to fax a press release directly to the news and sports desks.  I used to type out press kits for our big races on an electric typewriter, inputting bios for 25 horses and drivers at a time.

A couple of years later, it was a big deal when John Totaro, my boss at Lapin East/West and I put together a conference call with George Foreman to promote his fight with Gerry Cooney.  We had over 40 boxing reporters on the call and the lines were all open.  That was a major deal then, but something that is totally ho-hum now.

Fax machines, the first hand-grenade style mobile phones, conference calls, etc. were all tools that we as public relations professionals adapted to and used to enhance the way we communicated to media.

As technology gave birth to social media, the tools of our trade changed forever.  What I will discuss at the W.I.S.E. event is how these tools are being applied on an everyday basis and how, as the head of a public relations agency, I have now adopted them into my practice.  In fact, in most cases, social media platforms are the major component of the public relations strategy we develop for clients.

The ability to reach and engage with the end consumer directly through social media has altered the media relations business.  It is still important to sell a story or a segment through to an editor or producer at a key media outlet.  However, creating content for clients that can be repurposed on various platforms on the web are just as important.

We are now all swimmers in the ocean of social media.  Those that refuse to get their toes wet will get lost in the waves. Those that do will stay afloat. 

Tom Cosentino


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