PR overloads Twitter?

There’s undoubtedly been a tipping point in the take up of new/social media by PR practitioners this year – and it’s all thanks to Twitter.  Nearly all the PR folk that I speak with are finally recognising the need to get involved – which has its amusing moments as some seem to now think they are early adopters and experts in running online PR campaigns for clients and don’t realise some of us have been around the arena for a few years.

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But I wonder if this enthusiasm is set for a set-back again thanks to Twitter – which is now regularly reporting it is over capacity.  Has PR overloaded Twitter – is this a symbol of all the communication clutter that the industry has subjected journalists to over recent years?

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

13 thoughts on “PR overloads Twitter?”

  1. Very good question. I’d agree that PR has overloaded Twitter and PR is overloading on Twitter.

    Most of the PR people I know using Twitter could just use RSS feeds to get the same info they get now from publications. And, they are also following lots of other PR people…

    PR people following other PR people, how is that helpful?

  2. Tony “PR people following other PR people, how is that helpful?”

    It is helpful in exactly the way that you – and I – find it helpful to follow Heather!!!! Follow the right people and you learn things (and hopefully some people learn something from you….)

  3. Good point by you Philip. I should clarify. I do get the professional development part of PR following PR, but where I struggle is that too many PR people (in my experience) are simply tweeting ‘my client is in this article’ and other mundane entries that do not add much value.

    Maybe I’m just not following the right people yet. I’m happy I found this blog. I think this is a good start.

    Thanks for calling out my first entry. It did need challenging.

  4. Interesting post Heather. I am not sure whether PR professionals are breaking Twitter. As a regular PR user of this platform I know it is used by many but I am not sure we can attribute our friend the ‘Fail Whale’ to us PR users.

    Twitter has gone mainstream and more and more people are using it – all of us have noticed that. Hopefully, this wider usage by PR professionals will result in best practice being shared more often and the standards of online PR becoming better. The burning question I have for 2009 is what is the next big channel? Is DOPPLR going to be it and secure critical mass for itself? Surely, only time will tell.

  5. Tony – what I have found most interesting about PR practitioners and Twitter is the rapid uptake among those who haven’t engaged with other tools, hence I’m not surprised that they are using it when RSS would do the job as well. My experience is that those PRs who are newish to social media readily understood and signed up for Google Alerts and also joined Facebook. But they didn’t sign up for Google Reader or Bloglines accounts, start blogging etc.

    I’m not really sure why they’ve taken to Twitter except that they can see media using it and it has a relatively low barrier to entry. I don’t mind PRs using to link to their work – but it would be good to see some value added rather than just a Tweet flag.

    In terms of following PR people, I’m largely with Philip, although I dislike the bitchiness and cliques that have formed in Twittosphere (as with PR blogging) and also the self-importance that is often evident, as per the ghost-Twitting issue over the past week or so.

    I’m also not a fan of the rubbish that many PRs are Tweeting in the Facebook manner of what they are doing at this moment. I feel if your profession is in social media, then you should have a professional and a personal persona – being open about both, but using them for relevant purposes.

    Chris – I agree that the fail whale can’t really be the consequence of the PR world getting into Twitter – but I’m less hopeful that “wider usage by PR professionals will result in best practice being shared more often and the standards of online PR becoming better”.

    Regarding new tools, I’m more interested in some of the wider issues in relation to the challenges for PR and their organisations in managing and engaging via social media. I think we’ll see more full time social media people within PR teams, increasing questions over proving its validity, emergence of more mediating and filtering tools, a continuing cat and mouse game over “purists” and the commercial world in social media, etc, etc etc.

  6. Thanks for the reply Heather. I do agree that PR has blindly jumped in to Twitter headfirst (okay you didn’t really say that) and you also hit on my original point which is PR people using twitter to let people know that ‘just got into office’ and ‘going to pitch InformationWeek for RSA briefing’ is not overly helpful.

    This is just my opinion, but PR people should be familiar with social networking to properly guide clients. They should be using Twitter to help with their day to day job (tracking and talking with reports and learning what other PR folks are using Twitter for etc.) Where I’m worried is that all the PR folks that are just pimping client news and coverage makes us all look bad.

  7. Barbara. After a semester, my PR students reckon Twitter is for Twits, and can’t believe the time some (PR) people are spending on it. I detect a swing against social media.

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