Hey PR students: social media leads path of communication; but traditional media still along for the ride

As a current communications student or recent grad, you’re probably quite familiar with what social media is all about and how it can be used from a marketing / PR perspective. You more than likely have had access to a computer and the internet since you were practically still in diapers, and though you may not feel like it, you’re fairly tech-savvy, if not a complete computer whiz.

You’re already ten steps ahead of your predecessors to begin with, and still eagerly learning all that there is to know about social media – as you should. Being on the leading edge of social media will give you a clear advantage in today’s communications job market. So it makes sense that you put a lot of your focus on the latest ways to be heard (and listen in).

The number of tools and ways you can use social media in your communications strategies is truly endless. These great tools, many of which are free to use, are more accessible then ever, and their popularity and usage continues to grow. Take a look at this great diagram built by PR guru Brian Solis, known as the Conversation Prism.

It’s mind boggling to think of just how many different social media tools there really are out there. As detailed as the Prism is, however, even it will likely become partially out of date before you know it. The social media landscape is forever changing, and new ideas on how to navigate it are coming to fruition every day.

So, what about traditional media?

Now that we’ve established just how important social media is, and will continue to be, let’s get to the point of this article. As much as we advance in our ability to harness the power of social media, we must be very careful not to completely stuff our traditional media skills in the closet.

Knowing how to take advantage of traditional media has and always will be an important part of any good communicator’s skill set. Newspaper, radio, and TV are here to stay, and we should be continuing to use them in our marketing / PR activities, indefinitely. How and why we use them may be changing, but their importance remains.

There are a million reasons why you should still be using traditional media sources to reach those who matter to you, and I could go on and on. I will only highlight one reason though, and that is this:

Tying your messages in social media to their traditional media counterparts creates a well rounded marketing / PR strategy and is a formula for success.

What I mean by that is this: imagine you’re considering purchasing a Dell Computer. You research a bit by reading forums and online reviews, and maybe checking out the Dell website and blog. You have read many good things, but a couple of negative forum comments are hindering your decision. A few days later you’re reading the morning paper and what do you see but a review on the latest Dell model from a respected tech writer. Granted the review was positive, are you more likely to go out and buy the computer now then you were before? I know I would be.

That’s only scratching the surface on why traditional communication methods are still useful, but on its own should be enough to keep you from completely neglecting them.