I had an interesting discussion this week with the MD of a very successful PR agency about the significant differences in either interest in or approach to social media from PR consultants. It was both refreshing and inspiring to speak to someone with an obviously strong belief in the power of social media and a genuine interest in the field. But her experiences seemed to mirror my own, those being that in the world of PR, people either ‘get’ or ‘don’t get’ digital media. I’ve also discussed this with a few communications professionals on Twitter, and it is echoed by many that PRs need to start taking personal responsibility for their own digital media knowledge.
This has prompted me to put some serious thought to the role of social/digital media director and, more specifically, the increasingly multi-faceted approach that it necessitates. In order for the PR industry to evolve to a place where the space is filled with competent social media marketers, it is the knowledge and skills of these ‘thought leaders’ and early adopters of the many emerging new channels and tools that will drive it. A digital/social media director must therefore start to take on a role that is as much about encouraging and training colleagues as it is about servicing client requirements. The position is not only strategic and tactically client-facing, but part teacher, part motivator, part role model, part leader. It we can achieve this, our consultants win, our agencies win and PR in general wins.
So with this in mind, I’ve come up with five key responsibilities that I believe a digital/social media director’s role should encompass aside from the every day creative and practical skills of client work.
1 Inspire – demonstrate how and why social media works internally, and make it look fun and meaningful. Be passionate about the subject.
2 Include – involve others as much as possible. Enlist input from other agency people in whatever you do to build strong and consistent messaging. Get people writing blogs, coming up with client ideas and contributing to build their confidence and interest.
3 Motivate and reward – the job can be lonely if the social media director is the only one with the interest. Find the other social media advocates within the agency, encourage them, involve them and then champion them.
4 Focus – there’s a lot to learn in the field of digital marketing. It’s not rocket science, but blinding people with too much technical detail about (for example) SEO or mobile devices too quickly will only put them off. Drip feed information so that they build up knowledge and skill organically.
5 Integrate – ensure that the agency as a whole, both as individuals and as a company, is using social media effectively and that everyone knows how and why.
I’m sure there are other elements as well. I’d love your input to what you feel is shaping the role of social/digital media director in 2010, so please leave a comment below.
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