Public Relations Leads Social Media Engagement at Most Organizations

Public relations professionals are taking the lead in managing the organization’s use of social media communications channels, and social media skills are nearly as important as traditional media relations skills when searching for and hiring public relations professionals, according to a new study. 

The 2009 Digital Readiness Report, a study conducted by Eric Schwartzman with the support of online newsroom provider iPressroomKorn/Ferry International, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Trendstream, also identifies which new media and social media communications skills are most important to today’s hiring decision makers. 

“The most commonly asked question at my social media workshops is ‘Which new or social media communications channels are most important?’” says iPressroom founder Eric Schwartzman. “With more organizations realizing that there are tangible benefits to be gained from this type of engagement with their audiences, the importance of hiring individuals with advanced new media and social communications skills is increasing.” 

Among the key insights from the study are: 

· When searching for prospective new hires, social media communications skills are nearly as important as traditional media relations skills. 

· Public relations leads marketing in the management and oversight of all social media communications channels within organizations. 

· Marketing leads public relations in the management and oversight of bulk email communications and search engine optimization. 

· Social networking, blogging and micro-blogging skills are the three most important social media communications skills for job candidates to have, according to public relations and marketing hiring decision makers. 

· Most organizations are considering hiring social media specialists. 

The 2009 Digital Readiness Report, “Essential Online Public Relations and Marketing Skills.” is available for download free at (registration is required).

 Social Media Skills Influence Hiring Decisions 

Schwartzman says the survey data also suggest that public relations and marketing professionals without new media and social media communications skills cannot, and will not, satisfy the requirements of today’s hiring decision makers. To help professionals master these skills, Schwartzman and PRSA have added Social Media PR Boot Camps in four additional markets in 2009: Los Angeles (Aug 26 – 27), San Francisco (Sept. 24 – 25),Chicago (Oct. 15-16) and New York on (Dec. 3 – 4). 

“To circumvent the risk of obsolescence, communications professionals are seeking out new media and social media training oppor­tunities that allow them to rapidly update their traditional public relations and communications skills-sets,” he says. “The demand for this type of knowledge is huge.” 

The research also suggest a potential gap in online communications strategy at most organizations, since the channels with the greatest reach and adoption levels — email and search engine optimization — do not appear to be the most important channels in practice. 

In addition, organizations do not appear to be as intent on leveraging the trust advantage of their own websites over social networking services to promote their company line. Instead, organizations say they’re more focused on getting the word out than on using new media and social media channels to attract visitors to their own, destination websites. 

About iPressroom 

Online newsroom software as a service (SaaS) provider iPressroom ( was founded by social media strategist Eric Schwartzman, who also produces the award-winning PR podcast On the Record.Online (, about how technology is changing the way organizations communicate, and how people consume media and information. Based in Los Angeles, the company supports the rapid deployment of online newsrooms for businesses, nonprofits and government agencies.