As a member of the Public Relations Society of America’s National Capitol Chapter, I love taking advantage of any networking opportunity. The public relations professionals one can meet in Washington, DC are phenomenal. I decided to attend a joint networking luncheon with PRSA and IAPC a few weeks ago. While I looked for opportunities to meet new people, I was fortunate to have the chance to meet Steve Rubel, Senior Vice President and Director of Insights for Edelman Digital.

I followed Rubel’s Twitter feed for a while and I’m always investigating the new trends with public relations. Edelman is at the forefront of social media for their clients through Edelman Digital, an endeavor that gives their clients the best new avenues to disseminate their messages. Rubel’s job is to truly be a curator for new ideas. He endlessly reseraches the cutting-edge ways to connect to audiences. At the time of the luncheon, he previewed Google Wave (and I’m still incredibly jealous).

Rubel provided many best practices, and I will hopefully write a post soon to explain all of these nuggets of wisdom. However, there were two pieces of advice that stood out in my mind. First, he said that public relations professionals need to switch their thinking from a “campaign driven” mindset to an “always on” mentality. Campaigns are finite. They have a beginning, middle, and end, much like a novel. With a 24-hour news cycle and the interconnectivity of social media, Rubel believes that the days of a finite campaign will be obsolete.

The other point that struck a cord was to “monitor the trends, not necessarily the technology.” I feel that public relations, in an attempt to harness these new tools, easily relegate social media to the checklist of public relations campaigns to-do. Do we have a Facebook cause page? Check. Twitter account to broadcast our information? Check.

The true reason to have these tools is to promote communication among your audience. I also applauded his point that Twitter is a great tool for customer service. Take Comcast for example; they have @ComcastSteve and @ComcastBonnie along with a few other employees specifically stationed at their computers to provide immediate advice. Best Buy recently taught their employees how to use Twitter and allow them to tweet with their specific hashtag. Then, @BestBuy aggregates all the tweets from employees and displays the best ones. After simply walking through a Best Buy a few weekends ago, I saw 4 or 5 people use the service, and when asked, liked that they could get their answers on a wider scale.

So, fellow social media public relations junkies, what do you think? Does public relations focus more on trends than technology, or vice versa? What are the newest trends that we should be watching for? My eyes are peeled.

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