The buzz about social media is growing louder in the public relations (PR) industry. PR firms have long turned to traditional media to get the word out about their clients. But as more consumers use social media on a daily basis, more PR professionals are using this format to talk to target audiences. Partners at StevensGouldPincus have been tracking the trend and predict nearly half of the communications efforts by PR firms next year will involve social media.

Consider these numbers.  In 2010, about 30% of PR work will involve social media. By 2011, that figure will jump to 42.0%.  Here’s a list of where PR firms are using social media:

  • Media relations 36%
  • Product marketing 25%
  • Issues advocacy 20%
  • Special events 16%
  • Grassroots advocacy 16%
  • Political campaigning 16%
  • Crisis communications 13%

SGP managing partner Art Stevens says, “If this trend persists, within the next two years social media will replace traditional media as PR/PA’s primary tool for reaching client audiences with news and information.”

For now, most PR firms are using websites, blogs, Facebook and Twitter. To a lesser extent, they turn to MySpace and YouTube. A chief concern, as is common with most marketers, centers on quantifying value. And PR firms say they want to insure the integrity of social media in order to avoid ‘trivializing’ their campaigns.

PR firms are clearly committed to this new form of communication but  future growth may depend on demonstrable ROI  and integrity.

[Source: Social Media  will Overtake Traditional Media as PR tool in Next Two Years.  StevensGouldPincus.com 21 Sept. 2010. Web. 22 Oct. 2010]