Slacker or Worker: The New Look of PR

I want to take a little bit of a detour from water conservation to talk about social media. I know, I know, this isn’t why you’re reading this blog, BUT, I have found that within our office, it’s become a huge topic of discussion.  I’ve forced myself into the forefront of social media on behalf of the Athens-Clarke County Water Conservation Office, and sometimes I wonder if I’ve jumped in over my head.

What I mean is I’ve had zero professional training.  I’ve taken zero classes on PR, marketing, journalism, or any other subject that would be remotely useful for expanding social media expertise.  And yet, here I am, forcing my way into this foreign world of computers and instant communication.  I’ve dragged my coworkers and bosses with me: better to make a journey like this with a team than to make it alone, I’m thankful for the support Team Water has given me.

But. There’s always a “but,” isn’t there?

Though we’ve taken a huge step forward into the world of technology, we’re still creatures of habit. We still view Facebook as a procrastination tool, as something that is not productive, that doesn’t classify as “work.”  We still feel uncomfortable with Twitter, with the idea that constantly tweeting, retweeting, and reading tweets is actually doing something worth being paid for. Blogging still feels like writing in a journal, not connecting with a public that is genuinely interested in what our office is doing, and why it matters.  Pinterest sounds like another time-waster, not something useful for expanding your brand recognition.  I could go on, but you get the picture.

So what’s the deal? Why am I complaining about sitting on Facebook and getting paid to do it?  Well…because I’m struggling with seeing it as acceptable.

But it is.

It’s very clear that Twitter and Facebook have done lots of work in furthering our conservation message. Those of you that are on Facebook, Twitter, and the blog-o-sphere for fun DO see our conservation messages, our links, our photos, our events, our tweets, and (hopefully), they get you thinking about our water supply.  A huge part of our responsibility as the Water Conservation Office is outreach: getting across the importance of our Athens water, and the wise use of it. How are messages received in today’s world?  Through TweetDeck, your Facebook inbox, and those handy apps on your phone.  That alone, I think, gives me permission to use those tools to speak to you.

 Last “but,” I promise. But what do you think?  Do you think I’m playing around all day?  Do you think this is a valuable endeavor?  Do you benefit from my incessant communication? The most important thing I want to keep in mind during all these outreach efforts is: is this actually working? Are those that I am speaking to actually listening?  If not, how can I change what I’m doing?  I do want to hear from you, my readers.  If I get responses, I’ll formulate a follow-up post with your ideas, thoughts, and I’ll give credit where credit is due.  So please tell me: what do you think?

Annaliese Ashley-Intern

Originally posted on waterconservationstation.blogspot.com, 8/14/12

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2 thoughts on “Slacker or Worker: The New Look of PR

  1. I am able to know what’s going on in real time because of Facebook. I use it to take in information more than I use it to reach out. If it’s not happening on Facebook, it’s not happening. So, I wouldn’t worry too much if people aren’t responding. On the other hand, if I do reach out, I expect someone to be there. If they are not there, I feel that they are either behind the times or they do not care about community. Trying to measuring the ROI of social media is like trying to measure the ROI of a phone line on email address.

    • Thanks for your reply! Annaliese, our wonderful intern, has long left the Water Conservation Office and now we remain to carry on what she started. The questions she posed and the doubt she felt over the value of social media remain in our office. I am really feeling that now. We are transferring our blog posts from blogger to wordpress and I am constantly asking myself why. Is it necessary for us to bring the old posts? Is this an efficient way to spend my time?

      I think your comparison of measuring the ROI of social media to measuring the ROI of a phone line or email address is wonderful and encouraging. One would never dream of not having a phone line or email. I guess in this new technological age, a Facebook page, Twitter, and blog are the equivalents to phone and email. And in the same way an office hires a receptionist to answer a phone or email, we need to assign someone to these new formats. It is not goofing off. It is vital to running an office.

      Your comment is helping me to view the time spent on Facebook and Twitter as appropriate work. Don’t get me wrong – the self-doubt is still there and will probably continue to reappear. But you are pushing me in the direction I need to go. Thanks for taking the time to respond.

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