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Study: New PR Hires Must Blog, Tweet, Use SocNets

In what marks a dramatic shift away from the mainstream-media approach to public relations, PR hiring managers in the US now say it is nearly as important for prospective hires to have social media savvy as it is for them to have traditional media-relations skills, according to a survey by iPressroom (via MarketingCharts).

The results of the study highlight the growing importance of social media in the PR profession and - with support from Korn/Ferry International, the Public Relations Society of America (PRSA) and Trendstream - were compiled into the "2009 Digital Readiness Report."

Top Social Media Wish-List

Social networking, blogging and tweeting are the top-three most important social media communications skills for job candidates to have, according to the PR and marketing decision makers surveyed. Moreover, most organizations surveyed are considering hiring social media specialists.

Findings from the study:

  • Among those responsible for hiring PR and marketing employees, 82% of respondents say mainstream media relations expertise is either important or very important, while more than 80% say knowledge of social networks is either important or very important.

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  • Nearly 77% say knowledge of blogging, podcasting and RSS is either important or very important, while almost 72% say an understanding of micro-blogging services such as Twitter are either important or very important.
  • Other new media communications skills that hiring decision makers find important or very important are SEO (62%), email outreach (56%), web content management (52%) and social bookmarking (51%).
  • Media relations is the #1 desired skill for PR hiring managers in government and corporations, while social media skills are most important for those hiring into agencies, non-profits and academic institutions.

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PR Takes Charge of Social Media

These social media skills will likely increase in importance as PR professionals continue to take the lead in managing most organizations’ social media communications channels, iPressroom said.

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In contrast, the marketing function within most organizations usually has management and oversight responsibility for bulk email communications and SEO.

The research also suggests a potential gap in online communications strategy at most organizations, since the channels with the greatest reach and adoption levels - email and search engine optimization - do not appear to be the most important channels in practice.In addition, organizations do not appear to be as intent on leveraging the trust advantage of their own websites over social networking services to promote their company line. Instead, organizations say they're more focused on getting the word out than on using new media and social media channels to attract visitors to their own destination websites, the report said.

About the study: The survey was undertaken to help public relations, corporate communications and marketing professionals better understand and appreciate how organizations are integrating online communications into their business practices. It was conducted online via self-completion questionnaires, which were designed to provide quantitative data that allows the statistical comparison of trends and attitudes among key segments.

Respondents were recruited through iPressroom, Korn/Ferry International and PRSA. They were profiled and questioned on their involvement in job hiring to ensure that the sample captured a large proportion of decision makers in regards to recruitment. Over the course of a 6-week period during spring 2009, 278 public relations, marketing and HR professionals were surveyed.

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