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Social Media to Replace Email

On Friday I read a PRSA article asking if email is outdated and while I tried to ignore the premise as being silly, I can’t help but think how short-sighted that is on my part.

Deep down, I guess I know that social networking sites will replacing email as the top communication method, but I’m not quite ready to say email is outdated.

I’m old enough to remember a similar conversations the industry had about 10+ years ago when we wondered if will email would replace fax machines for press release distribution. In case you didn’t notice – it did and quickly.

I don’t think the transition away from email will be so quick. The reason the transition from fax to email was so fast is because it was a better process for everyone. Journalist liked it better and PR folks loved it because it was faster, better and easier. And no more paper cuts.

But, that transition was also eased by the fact that PR folks could still call journalist and ask the famous question, ‘did you get my press release?’ but will we be able to do that with social networks. ‘did you get my tweet?’ Or ‘I’m IMing to followup on my recent post, did you see it?’

While I think there will be more overlap between social networking and email than there was between email and fax machines, make no mistake about it, this latest transition is going to be different, more game-changing and I’m not overstating it when I say the PR industry we know today will be unrecognizable 5 years from now.

This is an evolve-or-be-left-behind moment that the industry hasn’t experienced in my 15+ year career. And clients needs to be part of this evolution.

The way we measure PR needs to change, the way we define PR needs to change, the line between MKT and PR is going to blur more than ever. But that being said, traditional PR tactics can’t be forgotten. Social media tools for today are just another tactic.

The reason I say that this will be more game changing, but will happen slower than the last industry evolution is that I don’t think it will be twitter or facebook that become the next-gen PR platform. I suspect there will be a business equivalent launched in the next 18 months and that it when the real sea-change will begin.

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