Social Media Crossing from Personal to Business

At the May 21 IABC Cleveland luncheon, Christina Klenotic, who gets paid to worry about such things, revealed that journalists Google, Facebook and Twitter-search the PR people who call them for placements.

Citing personal experience and data from the Society for New Communications Research, the Dix and Eaton vice president certainly surprised me when she said that nearly half of media members reportedly used social media tools. Klenotic also said that a USA Today reporter “friended” her on Facebook right before she was due to meet him in person.

O’Dwyer’s Kevin McCauley blogged about the Wall Street Journal new guidelines on social media on Monday.

I’m very new to this universe, having been a “reader” and occasional commenter on other people’s blogs, Yahoo! message boards, MyRagan, and a few others. I started a Twitter account today, in fact, after about two weeks of using Facebook. Luddite? No, just a bit concerned about blurring the lines between public and private.

Klenotic uses these tools for work, so I guess I’m not surprised by her decision to share the social media space with friends, family, and whomever. But it’s hard for me to avoid jumping to conclusions about the willful intersection of one’s personal life with the world of work. There is a pattern emerging, here, and it’s not limited to social media’s move from self-indulgent claptrap to essential business tool.

The sphere of the public, especially the state, is reaching more deeply than ever into the private sphere — perhaps that’s desirable, perhaps not; this is not a political blog, so let’s please not go there. I will keep my Facebook profile to friends and family, and maintain my LinkedIn profile for business purposes, along with this blog and my Twitter account.

Somehow, I just can’t get past my aversion to sharing truly personal information with people I don’t know personally. Besides, no one really wants to know anyway, do they?

P.s., Klenotic and Eaton Corporation’s Hillary Spittle will continue the social media discussion at the new Greenhouse Tavern, on E. 4th St. in Cleveland May 28 at 5:30 p.m.


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3 Responses to “Social Media Crossing from Personal to Business”

  1. Chuck Hemann says:

    Sean – interesting post, and thanks for the mention of D&E. I think what you’ve hit on, the blurring of public and private, is one of the most critical issues facing social media. I’ve jumped head first into Twitter, LinkedIn, Facebook and other social networking outlets for one simple reason: I learn more from them than I could possibly learn on my own. I don’t have a lot of time to scour the Web for best practices, new research, thoughts on PR/social media/IR, but because I’ve joined a community of folks with similar interests we all can share information and become that much smarter as a profession. That’s the true value of social media…at least to me.

    By the way, people do want to know what you are doing/know. I guarantee it.

  2. Sean, thanks for the shout out. When it comes to social media, the line between personal and professional use continues to shrink, particularly when you consider that such a big part of media relations is building relationships. Many still use Facebook for personal use only, but since anyone can follow you on Twitter unless you block them or keep your tweets private, a lot of professionals are using the medium to build credibility as thought leaders.

  3. Sean says:

    Christina and Chuck – thanks for your thoughtful comments.

    My misgivings are rooted less in the tools than in their disposition. What does it mean to society when there is little practical difference between one’s personal life and one’s professional…?

    I agree that in media relations (in fact, in any Public Relations context) that relationships are critical. Heretofore, there’s been an individual symmetry to that relationship process — by mutual agreement, both parties agree to relate. The basis for that relationship may be asymmetrical, in that our organization (or client) needs more from the media than vice versa.

    Does the media member friending you represent a relationship, or a transaction? In the commercial sense, I see the objective and the need. It’s making that media member equivalent to a family member or a friend that I find uncomfortable (at least right now…).

    Twitter is an interesting phenomenon. I need to think about it a bit more and figure out how to use it effectively!

    Thanks again for joining the conversation.