Is social media a requirement for a PR professional? What an interesting question.  The fact is, as a PR student, I have never even thought about it.  I have been so focused on learning the ins and outs of Twitter and keeping my LinkedIn profile up-to-date.  I spend my free time scouring blogs (especially ones with social media tips), searching for  cool widgets, checking my favorite RSS feeds and creating my own Delicious page. Everywhere I turn, it’s drilled in my head that I must be a social media guru in order to be a PR professional and compete in the job market.  But is it an actual requirement? Well, maybe it is not a requirement, but why wouldn’t you?

I recently read a blog debate on Social Media Today where two PR professionals spoke their sides on whether every PR professional should be on Twitter, LinkedIn and other social media outlets.  One of the bloggers said no, he did not think it was a requirement.  He claimed that social media does not work for everyone, and nothing can replace real relationships.  He also claims that you shouldn’t be apart of social media just to “be apart of it.” The other blogger claimed that yes, social media is a requirement because in order to understand how it works you need to actively use it yourself.  Also, she says it  is the newest and most most effective tool in the field of communications.

If you want to be technical, I might agree with the first blogger that “you are not doomed if you do not use social media.”  There are plenty of examples of PR professionals and organizations who do not use it.  Yet I do think if you are not actively apart of social media, such as blogs and Twitter, you are miles behind.  Part of being a PR professional is to be aware of new trends and tools that can be effective, not only for the organization you work for, but for your personal use as well.  That is what being a PR professional is all about–staying ahead of the game.

Secondly, why would you not choose to use such incredibly effective communication tools?  As a student, I realize in order to be a value to any organization I need to be aware and fully competent of every possible communication tool out there.  Being an avid seeker of PR jobs and internships, almost all listing include social media background as requirements.

I think the main question is not asking if social media is a requirement, but asking why not take advantage of it? It helps the PR field in the most valuable and core areas:

  • Increasing transparency
  • Ensuring the flow of communication
  • Networking
  • Keeping up on news and trends of the industry

Sure, some may be able to get by without it.  However, by not actively using one of the newest and most effective communication tools out there, what does that say about you as a PR professional?