Turn Social Media Strategy Into a Career

This post also appears on the Elon University PRSSA blog, where I function as the editor and vice president.

Chapter President Lianna Catino and Vice President Carolyn VanBrocklin are in Washington, DC for the 2010 PRSSA National Conference.

By: Carolyn VanBrocklin

Alan Kelly, CEO and founder ofPlaymaker Systems, LLC was the opening session speaker at the PRSSA National Conference 2010.  Kelly, the PRSSA National President from 1980 discussed his views on strategy and its place in the public relations campaign, particularly social media.

Kelly’s speech revolved around the idea that public relations practitioners are playmakers, individuals whose stock in trade is to call, run, decode and counter competitive moves in the marketplace.

This is particularly important when working in social media.  Social media strategists did not have a place in the job market until very recently and now they must be competitive.  Otherwise, such jobs will be outsourced or automated.

To illustrate his point, Kelly gave examples of bland, not engaging tweets from major global companies.  FromCisco to PlayStationToyotato Apple (“iPod nano All About Music”) the social media messages consisted of informational announcements – nothing that draws in the reader.

If this is strategy, Kelly said, he is worried for us.

Influence Strategists

Careers in social media will be safeguarded if professionals embrace strategy.  There are some individuals (think pundits likeStephen Colbert or politicians like Sarah Palin) who are influence strategists, but until recently no one knows how they do it.

A scientific method for strategy

Unlike the sciences, there is no formula, no periodic table of elements in defining public relations strategy, no notation system.

Instead, “we have principles, best practices, laws and rules.” Kelly said.  But this is still not good enough.

Kelly created The Standard Table of Influence Strategies to break down public relations into strategies, the irreducible unit of PR.

“They can be found, they can be defines, organaized, used, called our periodic table of elements,” Kelly said.

The table systemizes communications strategy for influence strategists, those who manage reputation, trust, authenticity, etc. for a company.

This system allows PR practitioners to understand strategies, to use it like a periodic table to break down content.

Within this table there are three modes of operation.  “You’re always going to be assessing, conditioning and engaging,” Kelly said.

A bridge between strategy and tactic

The stratagems outlined in The Standard Table of Influence Strategies are the simplest lowest form of strategy life.  They are the bridge between strategy and tactic.

Overall, Kelly’s main message was that social media interactions must be richer in content.  “If you’re not strategic, you’re about to be out of the job. If you start to think about yourself as a communications strategist in the new media, it’s a great advantage,” he said.

Social media strategists must create discussion, conversation and arguments to engage their audiences.

Follow @elonprssa on Twitter for updates throughout the weekend and check our blog at the end of the day for recaps of the sessions.

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