Sunday, August 10, 2008

A Call for Generalists

There is an adage in business that the specialist prevails over the generalist. It’s why so many public relations consultancies segment their staff by practice group (i.e. we have market experts) and/or job function – we will call in our social media expert.

We’ve taken quite a different approach at Strategic Communications Group (Strategic) by requiring our team of professionals to bring a broad-base set of market knowledge, skills and experience to their clients. They represent companies in different, yet related technology and healthcare markets. And they must be proficient in strategy, client service and the full range of public relations tactics.

Yes…it is more challenging to recruit and train generalists. Yet, the value they are able to deliver by offering an integrated approach to public relations and social media makes the effort well worthwhile.

The “specialist versus generalist” issue was top-of-mind this evening as I read an informative post from Jonny Bentwood, an analyst relations professional with PR shop Edelman. He listed the number of industry analysts who are now conducting research and interacting with companies via Twitter, a highly popular microblogging platform.

This is a great example of the intersection of traditional PR and social media, and why it is critical for public relations professionals to be engaged in all facets of communications. Strategic has experienced this first hand in our work on BT Americas “Secure Thinking” twitter community. Followers include journalists, analysts, customers and prospects.

My take: in public relations it is the generalist who typically carries the day.

1 comment:

Chris Parente said...

Excellent post Marc -- although not surprising I agree!

One more point I'd make -- your Twitter example shows that new tools that increase access to media and analysts (IF used correctly of course) are more de-stabilizing to the narrow specialist than to the generalist.