Let’s look at the evidence.
Survey after survey over the last 6 months points to a profession that is seeing an ever greater share of its roles and responsibilities devoted to social and digital media management. The CIPR’s recent State of the Profession report pointed to a continuing rise of converging responsibility for this area (60pc in 2013/14 compared to 51pc in the prior period).
Other research points to the fact that digital, social and online comms are seen as the tasks that have grown most in importance in the past two years. They are also the ones that are seen as being most likely to continue to grow in importance over the next two years.
More evidence comes in the shape of market demand for relevant PR skills. A recent Mynewsdesk survey indicated that social media and digital skills are considered more important than media relations to PR buyers.
And yet, in spite of this, there is a widespread perception that there is a gap between current and required skills adoption. Another recent survey showed that the social media and digital skills gap was the area that PR practitioners were most motivated to address in the next 12 months.
So. There is no denying the need for social media training from PR professionals. The next question logical question is – where can you find the right kind of training?
Choice isn’t the issue. There are a plethora of 3rd party training companies and so called social media “gurus” available to meet demand. However, social media and digital trainers who can supply genuine expertise and experience relevant to the needs of the modern day PR practitioner are thinner on the ground.
The CIPR provides a wide variety of options to meet the social media skills development needs of any PR professional.
For example, the CIPR offers three levels of one day social media training workshop – beginner, intermediate and advanced. These courses have been developed over the last four years to address the fact that there is a very wide spectrum of experience and exposure to social media – and there are clearly sector-specific considerations that need to be taken into account. An in-house professional working for a government department will by default have needs that differ from a PR agency exec working on behalf of technology clients. Someone who has never used a Twitter account will have very different needs to a PR Director who is already managing social media activity on behalf of clients – but wants to understand how to develop a more strategic approach to social media planning and execution in the context of a broader communications remit. Each level of workshop is thus designed to cater for all types of role, experience, seniority and sector.
All of the CIPR’s Social Media trainers are highly experienced PR professionals in their own right who also have deep domain expertise in social and digital media. They are also active PR practitioners who not only understand the latest theories and developments, but are practically deploying them on behalf of organisations of all shapes, sizes and sector – day in, day out. One of the differentiating factors for the CIPR’s social media workshops is the emphasis on practical demonstration and examples.
The CIPR also offers regular one hour webinars devoted to specific social media related topics such as the latest developments on platforms such as Twitter or Facebook. These are a great way to keep up to speed on the ever changing world of social media as well as providing a taster of what the more in-depth one day workshops can offer.
In short, continuous learning is here to stay. Anyone who is serious about future proofing their career should at the very least evaluate their current social and digital skills development needs and seek to plug the gaps with appropriate support and training. A small amount of time perusing the CIPR’s social media and digital training resources may well be one of the most valuable career investments you can make today.