The Social Media Flip Side

If there is one thing I’ve learned as a public relations student, it is that social media is a very valuable tool for public relations practitioners and their clients. People gain followings, get noticed and can even launch their careers through sites like Twitter. But there is a flip side.

I used to think of PR in terms of how many Twitter followers I had, how many people viewed my blog, how many cool PR people I could find on Twitter…you get the idea.

Now I understand that there is another necessary, if slightly less glamorous side to it all. PR veterans probably already understand that, but I would not have learned that lesson had it not been for Allen Hall Public Relations, the student-run public relations agency at the University of Oregon journalism school.

Named for the building that houses the journalism school, Allen Hall PR provides us with real-world experience: clients, team members, meetings, plans, research and business casual. The experience is invaluable, exciting and fun.

I’m an Account Executive on a four-woman team that does PR for the Jordan Schnitzer Museum of Art (JSMA), the art museum located on the UO campus.  It’s always bringing in new exhibits and showcasing different art forms, artists and cultures.

Being a social media lover, I couldn’t wait to help run the museum’s Facebook page and send out tweets about new exhibits.

Not so fast, my friend!

Our work has instead been very research-heavy. We’ve spent lots of time compiling media lists and “affinity lists,” compilations of info for on-campus and community groups that might be interested in each upcoming exhibit. Now, we are preparing to conduct observational assessments of museum visitors: Tracking their visit, what pieces they admire and what they pass over, asking them questions about their experience at the museum. Glamorous? Not exactly. Necessary? Absolutely.

Working at Allen Hall PR has allowed me to understand that there is so much more to PR than Twitter and Facebook. It’s also about researching, understanding your client and its audiences and gathering feedback. One day, you can tweet about all the cool stuff you’re doing, but first, you have to know what people actually care.

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