// what do you think?


PR and Social Media: The Power of Answering Questions

There’s a lot of power in asking questions. The Socratic Method first brought to life the power of asking illuminating questions but the power behind asking questions is readily used in the fields of psychiatry, journalism, teaching and consulting, just to name a few. But sometimes I think the power of answering questions is highly underrated.

No one knows everything. But being the person who knows how to find the answers is probably the most powerful position in the Information Age. Isn’t that really the power of search? In a recent study, one in three execs say they’re often unable to find the right people to provide them information. This is the executives running companies. How do you think customers feel?

I think most people will agree that, to date, the PR industry has done a better job of leading in social media than the advertising industry has. But why? Advertisers are smart, they’re great story tellers like the people in PR (you can argue who’s better I’m staying out of that one). But yet PR (for the most part) has jumped feet first into social media (okay, maybe they put their toe in the water first but they’re in now). Advertising has just barely started.

Now I know some of you are (not wrongly) thinking that the ad model doesn’t lend it self to social media the way PR does. PR budgets are based on headcount and ad budgets are based on media buys. While that’s mostly true, PR agencies and ad agencies are far more flexible and diverse than that these days. Saying that ad agencies only do ads is like saying PR agencies only do press releases.

But here’s where I think PR has a distinct advantage over advertising:

PR people are used to answering questions. It’s that simple. If you know how to find answers for a reporter or an other influencer then you know how to find answers for bloggers and people on Facebook and Twitter.

This isn’t as easy as it sounds. Traditional corporate structures don’t facilitate this kind of cross silo knowledge sharing. People have developed unofficial processes for getting this kind of work done.  The most effective work you can do in social media is to discover these processes and then formalize them.

Photo credit by Balakov

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About Tac

Social media anthropologist. Communications strategist. Business model junkie. Chief blogger here at New Comm Biz.

  • http://twitter.com/RealTweeter Lacy Kemp

    Brilliant post, Tac! Agree that PR is leading because they’re used to answering questions, and it also comes down to 1-way vs. 2-way communication. PR understands the value of conversation in a way that advertising has typically lacked. Thanks again, for another great post!

    Pete Voss

  • http://topsy.com/www.newcommbiz.com/pr-and-social-media-the-power-of-answering-questions/?utm_source=pingback&utm_campaign=L2 Tweets that mention PR and Social Media: The Power of Answering Questions | New Comm Biz — Topsy.com

    [...] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Tac Anderson, Craig M. Jamieson, AllThingsM, Medias Sociaux, New Comm Biz and others. New Comm Biz said: PR and Social Media: The Power of Answering Questions: There’s a lot of power in asking questions. The Socratic … http://bit.ly/epT8LF [...]

  • http://www.sharelomer.com SharelOmer

    Great post,
    Thank you for reminding us “one in three execs say they’re often unable to find the right people to provide them information” .. so true its funny…

    To know how to answer questions is really hard… i guess you need first to know how to ask the right questions….

    How do you see PR for an SMB who focus on social media marketing… the conversation there is still considered PR?

  • http://www.jeremymeyers.com/ Jeremy Meyers

    I’m totally gonna call you Lacy now, PV.

  • http://www.jeremymeyers.com/ Jeremy Meyers

    If only some PR firm would develop an awesome proprietary solution for aligning business structure with social goals.

  • http://www.mitash.com/blog/ Raj - SEO Australia

    At first I thought that you were trying to support one side of the marketing(PR) and later realized that you are telling the facts about PR/social media/advertising marketing platforms! And there is another fact that many people don’t the difference between advertising and public relations even :) .

  • http://www.marknathwani.com/ Mark - Life Coach

    I would say a good PR are those who build relationships with the communities they serve and with the help of Social media businesses have given consumers a great voice, and everyone need to respect it and listen to it.

  • http://www.newcommbiz.com/social-media-center-of-excellence-or-cool-kid-clubhouse/ Social Media Center of Excellence Or Cool Kid Clubhouse? | New Comm Biz

    [...] is tough because large organizations support their large structure by creating silos. Being able to work across silos is a very valuable skill set for those running social [...]

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