For the last 17 years I have worked with PR people and in the last two years I have worked with some incredibly talented Social Media experts. What I am about to say will no doubt upset many people but I can honestly say that it has been easier to teach Social Media to my PR team than it has been to teach PR to the Social Media pro’s, no matter their experience and background.Is Social Media harder than PR?

There, I’ve said it.

This is my first-hand experience. An opinion based on working on a variety of campaigns in different industry sectors with a team consisting of PR professionals and Social Media experts.

PR takes years to master as you can’t quickly teach strategy and theory on the job. Social Media on the other hand can be taught relatively quickly, how to set up a Twitter account, Facebook page etc., and my agency has worked with Social Media people who are clearly brilliant at using all the key platforms but don’t understand how to use these for Public Relations purposes.

The traditional Press Release is working harder than ever and the PR skills required to generate releases are the backbone of content strategy. Think about Social Media – years ago, we were including client’s straplines and catchphrases into our releases and today they’re used as #hashtags. Think about SEO – we included key phrases in our releases; these are the words customers use to find you online. Think about customer segmentation – we’ve always written different styles of releases for separate audiences, the same as using different online platforms.

The two have merged. PR and Social go hand in hand and many PR agencies have been integrating Social PR into their work for years without realising it. I believe that to fully understand the power of Social Media, you need to be a PR pro first, not the other way around.

I know it’s far more complicated than this but I wanted to get my thoughts out there as it’s been on my mind since I recruited my first in-house Social Media Manager six months ago and the debate started then in my office.

Written by Aneela Rose.