CIPR and a positive way forward for social media?

SimonGeneral

So David Brain has had an unexpected opportunity to chat face to face with Colin Farrington, CIPR director-general. And the conversation has thrown up a challenge – what does the UK social media community want CIPR to do to promote these new communications channels?

The issue of CIPR, blogging and Colin Farrington’s view on it has received much attention among the UK social media community over the past few weeks. It was covered in For Immediate Release #175 and by bloggers including David Brain, Stuart Bruce and Simon Collister (as well as here).

In his post following his face to face with Colin, David lays down the challenge for the social media community to come up with some constructive suggestions for the CIPR.

So here are my initial thoughts on this:

Own the space

CIPR needs to take an aggressively positive stance on social media. There are many professions vying for credibility in this space, and as a respected body the institute can articulate the valid credentials for our profession.

It’s easy for anyone to get into social media, but the professionals who are seen to understand the strategic, tactical and operational use of these new channels will be those who can benefit most commercially from them.

That’s not to say a debate isn’t healthy – but a corporate stance is needed from the CIPR on social media to give a firm indication of its position – otherwise the messages on behalf of the UK PR community will continue to be mixed.

Create appropriate professional standards
The profession needs standards that respected practictioners can work to. I wholeheartedly endorse Stuart Bruce’s proposal that these standards are reached in a way appropriate to the community. He suggests using a wiki, rather than the standards being devised by committee (the usual route).

The idea is great as it acknowledges that social media is different, and will get more buy-in from practictioners in the space than the traditional top-down edicts (even when they are consulted on).

Look for linkages with “traditional” PR
The real value of social media will be when it becomes integrated into the everyday marketing and PR mix. Showing how this can be done will increase awareness and understanding among those who aren’t actively engaged in social media now.

Colin’s letter talks about the older members of CIPR – as the proponents of these exciting new communications tools, I think we can gain acceptance by showing how social media can be used as part of a broader mix of tools – after all that’s how it will be used in mainstream PR, certainly in the short and medium term.

These are very much my initial thoughts on this – hopefully a positive discussion will emerge in the social media community over the next few days, and a constructive way forward may emerge from the negativity of recent events.