By Kevin O'Keefe

Why are public relations professionals handling social media?

Maybe it’s just me, but it seems totally illogical to have public relations professionals advising you on the use of social media for business development. Seems crazier yet that you would have a public relations professional executing your social media plan.

Using social media for business development is all about networking through the Internet. The same sort of networking lawyers have done for business development for the last 100 years or so. We’re just using a different medium, the Internet.

Business development by a lawyer or a law firm, done via the Internet, is all about relationships. Relationships nurtured through engaging and networking with your target audience.

An audience that’s defined by the type of legal work you are looking to do and who you are looking to do it for. An audience that’s comprised of clients, prospective clients, referral sources, and the influencers of those three (bloggers, reporters, publishers, association leaders, conference coordinators etc.).

Networking is personal in nature. It’s a participation, full contact sport. It’s not a passive activity where someone does the dirty work for you.

You wouldn’t send a PR person to network on your behalf at a cocktail party filled with clients, prospective clients, and association leaders. You also wouldn’t ask a public relations agency to develop a plan for networking at the cocktail party and to coach you in that regard.

Why would you do that when it comes to networking through the Internet? Because you don’t know how to network through the net and chose PR people to help is not a great answer.

I like many PR professionals. Some do a great job. I have hired public relations agencies, but not to do my networking through the net. And not to advise me regarding the use of social media to network through the Internet.

Look at Wikipedia’s definition of ‘business networking.’

Business networking is a marketing method by which business opportunities are created through networks of like-minded business people. There are several prominent business networking organizations that create models of networking activity that, when followed, allow the business person to build new business relationship and generate business opportunities at the same time.

Many business people contend business networking is a more cost-effective method of generating new business than advertising or public relations efforts. This is because business networking is a low-cost activity that involves more personal commitment than company money.

As an example, a business network may agree to meet weekly or monthly with the purpose of exchanging business leads and referrals with fellow members. To complement this activity, members often meet outside this circle, on their own time, and build their own “one-to-one” relationship with the fellow member.

Look at the terms and concepts pulled from this definition.

  • Relationships.
  • More cost effective than public relations.
  • Involves more personal commitment than company money.
  • Build their own “one-to-one” relationship.

I understand how a public relations agency can be used to monitor Internet discussion about your law firm, its lawyers, your target audience, and relevant subjects. But stop there. It makes little sense to to have PR professionals advise you on how to engage in this discussion nor to actually engage your audience on your behalf.

Social media, whether it be via blogging, Twitter, LinkedIn, or Facebook is all about networking to establish and nurture relationships. Relationships that lead to professional and business development success for lawyers.

It makes no sense to me to have public relations professionals handle that networking for you. What do you think?

Kevin O'Keefe
About the Author

Trial lawyer turned legal tech entrepreneur, I am the founder and CEO of LexBlog, a legal blog community of over 30,000 blog publishers, worldwide. LexBlog’s publishing platform is used on a subscription basis by over 18,000 legal professionals, including the largest law firm in each India, China and the United States.

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