I Belong in PR

At about the same time as the office started buzzing about “The Louise Marsland event on PR trends”, I got some valuable advice from Van Baard. Van has been around so her advice would be pretty valuable. She said to me “Get involved in traditional media. Understand traditional media. Do not isolate yourself within the silo that is Social Media or Digital because you will always approach it from a marketer’s perspective.”

Confusing much? Let’s take a step back. I have been in Marketing for close on 12 years now. Consumer marketing. Brand marketing. Sponsorship marketing. Face-to-face marketing. Most recently, Social Media marketing. And it is from this stepping stone that I managed to embark on my newest adventure. Social and Digital Communications. My home is no longer a studio at a Marketing agency but a neat and structured space in a global, traditionally “PR” firm.

So back to my conversation with Van…it struck a nerve. I realized that in order to be successful at Social Media/ Digital communications, I REALLY needed to entrench myself in the big, bad world of media, editors, journalists, press-releases and communication teams.

Hence, when “The Louise Marsland event” was discussed in hallways and boardrooms, I decided to start delving into who and what Louise Marsland was.

So I followed her on Twitter. Aside from the general research I had conducted into the profile of the Fleishman Insights session speaker, her Twitter persona really hit home. Here’s a loud and proud Mummy who loves baking cupcakes, adores her child and has pink hair (I was to later find out it was a wig).

Excitement was inevitable and as I took responsibility for driving the Twitter content around the event and then went on to delve even further into the content of the talk, I realized that this session might just be the turning point in my career and the most pivotal information I could ever absorb.

I wasn’t wrong!

From the moment I met Louise, I was taken by her exuberance, forth-coming nature and sheer happy aura. I greeted her quite seriously (trying to be all professional like…and my boss was right there) and she threw her hands out and exclaimed “I LOVE your hair! I love your shoes!”  I instantly knew…that this was going to be an easy evolution from Marketing junkie to PR guru.

The morning was quite warm, quite lovely and the venue was outstanding. The Clico Hotel in Rosebank put out a wonderful spread and while savoring the delights, I was quite absorbed in my task of Tweeting from the company account.

Louise sat down and started chatting. Not about the event. Not about the industry. But about kids, Despicable Me II. Cupcakes and the terrible twos. And we connected on more than funky fashion. Motherhood. Now that this vibrant personality and accomplished individual became more approachable and more “real” I was ready to take it all in.

And we began!

Multi-tasking Tweeting like a maniac, RTing and absorbing the wealth of information Louise had to offer, I was astounded at what my ultimate take-out was.

I expected to learn more about media. More about communications. How publications work. What makes editors tick. And yes, all that came through. BUT, my BIGGEST take-out of the entire session…in 1 line was simply this;

“Social Media belongs under the communications umbrella. PR agencies should be the custodians of Social Media and not Marketers.”

Now obviously, many different individuals would’ve taken many different messages out from the session.

  • The traditional media fundi would’ve been surprised to find that digital and social media have become inextricably intertwined parts of the media machine
  • For those that have denied the magnitude of Twitter, Louise would have driven home the fact that Twitter is probably the single most valuable platform for media
  • Those who have been sending Press releases would’ve got the reality check that the press DON’T WANT press releases. They want digitally marketable content. They want links which increase their SEO
  • Those who write content for Social & Digital would have smiled as Louise marked content curation as the most viable relationship driver between communications agencies and the media
  • Those who hate writing would’ve loved Louise’s call for more video, pictures and sharaeble content

And all of these tit-bits of information on how to build relationships with editors, how to deliver content, how to bridge the digital gap etc. really helped me understand more the world of media and communications.

Still, one thing stood out for me more than anything. Social Media and Digital comms should sit within communication platforms and not marketing.

Thus, Kailash Chetty, Social Media fundi should sit in a Communications agency as I do and not Marketing as I have.

I am most definitely at the right place, at the right time…doing the right thing.

Thank you Louise Marsland!


Written by Kailash Chetty