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Recruiting for PR 2.0

Recruiting for PR 2.0

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Published by Simon Collister
Paper presented at EUPRERA Congress 2012, Istanbul, Turkey, 22nd-25th Septemeber, 2012
Paper presented at EUPRERA Congress 2012, Istanbul, Turkey, 22nd-25th Septemeber, 2012

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Categories:Types, Research
Published by: Simon Collister on Dec 18, 2012
Copyright:Attribution Non-commercial


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Recruiting for PR 2.0Sarah Williams, Jennifer Challenor and Simon Collister
Manchester Metropolitan University, English Mutual and London College of Communicationsarah.williams@mmu.ac.uk , Jen_chal@hotmail.com; s.collister@lcc.arts.ac.uk  Paper presented at EUPREA Congress 2012, Istanbul, Turkey, September 20th-22
The PR consultant of today faces a communications landscape almost unrecognisable compared to that of 20 years ago. While both veterans and novices need to develop and maintain a newand evolving toolkit, the rise of social media has made some of the fundamental skills of the PR profession more valuable than ever (Bhurji, in CIPR, 2012)
The media industry is experiencing an era of rapid change, and this has had a rippling effect onthe PR industry within the UK in recent years.Solis and Breakenridge (2009) suggest that PR practitioners need to radically change theirpractice, the traditional methods of PR practice, if they are to survive within the evolvingindustry. Putting the public back into public relations has become a common phrase.Conversation with audiences is now the primary aim and so the focus seems to be shifting awayfrom broadcasting messages to engaging audiences. This could be said to be changing thetrajectory of the PR industry in general in that there would now appear to be an increasing focus
on direct engagement with people as „people‟, not as pre
-defined audiences or stakeholdergroups in ways which require unprecedented levels of honesty, transparency and trust. Thischange in focus prioritises social capital over other forms of capital, such as economical, andrequires a relationships oriented approach based on informal, social connections rather thanformal, professional ones. This approach is broadly the opposite of the mass media/mass market
„churnalism‟ which has been characteristic o
f the industry in the most part.This shift in focus from broadcast to conversation, from control to engagement, has left some
 practitioners fearful that they are being „left behind‟, and arguments, such as those advanced by
Solis, add fuel to this fire.The challenge for Heads of PR, agencies and in house teams is how to ensure that PR adapts tothe changing environment in a way which not only builds on traditional practice but alsoencourages new and innovative PR practices to emerge. How PR rises to this challenge will becrucial to the continued success and development of the profession. Questions that this researchconsiders include: is having an established experienced team enough? How are practitioners
tackling the transition from old PR practice to new? Do the changes to the industry in the past
few years represent a linear transition or rather a radical break that can be „managed‟ on their 
terms but which is forcing them to adapt rapidly and in an uncontrolled fashion? Is it sufficient tobe familiar with social media and are practitioners sufficiently competent to engage?The research aims to identify how the phenomenon of social media is impacting the practice of public relations. The paper considers the views of eight senior practitioners to investigate bothhow social media is perceived by practitioners and how it is used, and how far practitioners agreewith the idea that there is no room for traditional PR practice in the industry anymore and the,rather alarmist, notion advanced by Soli
s and others that practitioners who don‟t adapt will be
forced out.
Literature Review
In the main the literature written in the area of social media in public relations is functional andpractitioner focused. While there are more conceptual approaches to the analysis and applicationof social media, this paper will consider only those texts which purport to offer advice on socialmedia management to practitioners, since this was the starting point for the research.Solis asserts that the PR industry is in a state of flux and needs to embrace the consumerrevolution (2012). He argues that
utting the public back into public relations‟ is crucial and
traditional PR practitioners need to adapt and change quickly to digital media if their careers areto survive.While
change in the industry is widely accepted, not everyone shares Solis‟ views that the sector 
is experiencing such a radical shake up.According to Holmes (2009) those who have been practising PR properly for the past ten years
that is, „public relations driven by integrity, authenticity, engagement, [and] conversation‟
- areprobably still practising it the right way. Whilst change is clearly recognized [at a practicallevel], taking a strategic approach to planning which is based on integrity, engagement andconversation remains fundamental to practice. Holmes suggests that tactically, the traditionalprocess of PR applies to the majority of new media and has not been lost. According to Holmes,

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