On PR and what you ate for lunch

Is Twitter really just a bunch of status updates?

As part of my Masters, Arts—Professional Writing, I’ve enrolled in a semester of PR theory. Last week I sat in the seminar and was pleased as the discussion wound its way to my favourite topic: social media, under the guise of discussing challenges facing individuals in the industry. ‘Keeping up to date with technology’ was one of those challenges identified and there was much nodding and agreement amongst the 30 or so students.

Then the Lecturer asked how many in the room used Twitter.

Only two raised their hands. I was one of them.

Next question … How many used Facebook? I saw a sea of hands in the air.

Having spent time looking at usage stats I wasn’t surprised. Most of the students were early 20s, not the heaviest subset of Twitter users. But what really got me thinking is what happened next.

Sitting beside me was a charming and articulate woman, a corporate lawyer interested in making the switch to PR. I asked her why she didn’t use Twitter. Her answer was simple:

Who wants to know what I had for lunch? I haven’t updated my Facebook status in two years.

She said it as though it was a badge of honour.

So, is being impervious to social media the new black? Is it something to be proud of?

I think not.

There are two inherent truths about Twitter:

People who don’t know much about Twitter think it is a bunch of status updates—to strangers, hence irrelevant and a waste of time.


Most people who explore Twitter on their own often, and quickly, hit a “I don’t get it” wall and walk away for a while, usually back to the familiar and nurturing arms of Aunty Facebook; a place where everything and everyone is familiar, hence relevant.

Thing is, PR to me is very much an art of opportunity. So my surprise was derived from the instant dismissal, the lack of seeing this social media tool as an opportunity; the very lack of seeing it as a “tool”.

The room was full of post-grads eager to carve out careers in PR, yet only one other had invested time in exploring one of the fastest growing tools for networking and sharing on the internet.

A quiet lecture room isn’t the right space to launch into a debate on Twitter benefits, but if I had been able to reply to the corporate lawyer, wannabe PR professional, I would say this:

What if I told you I could grant you access to an association, one that is all about PR, with a side dose of whatever else interests you; anything at all—design, marketing, advertising, maybe law and further subset fields such as  business, tech or fashion, lifestyle, music, food.

And I could give you membership to this association for free.

Well, relatively for free, the cost to you will be the investment of your time.

In this association you will have access to some of the most well-known minds in the PR industry, some of the old-timers as well as the newest shining stars and all the relevant groups of professionals that you’ve heard of in your PR classes, both locally and globally. And, most of these groups and individuals will share with you their daily thoughts, best practices, what they are reading and thinking about, projects they are working on and importantly—job leads.

Better yet,  many will take the time to answer your questions, or at least point you in the direction of a link or group that will provide an answer, and you’ll never feel like some clumsy-cold-caller trying to get the attention of someone who otherwise wouldn’t have the time of day for you, because this association is all about community and networking. You are welcomed because everyone is participating either for altruistic reasons or simply because they all know how important it is to keep an eye on the playing field.

Sound interesting?

Well my friend, that’s Twitter.

You’re right; unless you’re a foodophile nobody on Twitter really is interested in what you ate for lunch.

Save that for your friends on Facebook.

Lucky them.

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