Social Media Tug of War – PR vs Marketing [STATS]

Social Media Tug of War – PR vs Marketing [STATS]

Online marketing tactics have been all the rage for quite some time now and the surge of social media has boosted its priority even further among many companies. But when it comes to implementing a social media campaign, who gets to sit in the driver’s seat – PR or marketing?

In the most recent Forrester Research Interactive Marketing Forecast, social media marketing is predicted to grow at an annual rate of 34 percent through 2014. This is faster than any other form of online marketing and actually doubles the average growth rate for all online mediums.

New research from AMI Partners shows that around 70 percent of SMBs actively use social media sites like Twitter, Facebook, YouTube and LinkedIn to promote their companies with 61 percent of medium sized businesses maintaining that social media is a strategically important element to the success of their business.

So, with social media clearly still on the rise and infiltrating company business practices more and more, again, I ask, who takes control of social media efforts – PR or marketing?

Well, according to the sixth Communication and Public Relations GAP study, over a quarter of companies put PR in charge of 81 to 100 percent of social media budgets instead of marketing. PR was given strategic control of social media campaigns for nearly 25 percent of respondents, compared to only nine percent who gave control to marketing. What’s more, just over one-fourth of respondents said marketing has no budgetary control at all and approximately 22 percent said marketing had no strategic control.

In PR Week Lab’s recent virtual event, I attended a session by John Bell of Ogilvy PR and Scott Monty of Ford Motor Company in which they asked attendees who leads their social media programs within their organizations. The results showed PR taking the lead over marketing yet again. The poll found about 35 percent of companies entrusted their social media campaigns to communications and PR departments whereas only around 20 percent allowed marketing teams to run their social media programs.

Why is this? Isn’t social media another online marketing tool?

In Shel Holtz’s recent article, he notes some good reasoning on the subject from Jerry Swerling, who brings across three main points:

  • Social media require a non-commercial approach
  • Social media use dialogue to interact, not monologue
  • Social media are free form, not controlled

These characteristics are ingrained in PR and communications, whereas marketing is a more controlled environment that may not be as able to adapt. PR professionals are naturals at conversation and relationship building, which is what social media is all about. And companies are clearly recognizing this by handing PR the reins.

Who do you trust with your company’s social media efforts?


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