Just three short years ago, I was a sitting in my senior year Public Relations classes, writing press releases and preparing media kits, imagining what life would be like for a communications student when, as my professors’ would say, social media would not someday become the “future of communications”, but actually transform the communications industry as we know it.
Fast forward three years to the present day, when I’m walking into Public Relations classes at Syracuse University for The Social Commerce Days to talk about my social media background and sharing my expertise on digital marketing. The day has finally come (quite rapidly) when social media rules the world and everyone and anyone wants to know how to use it, analyze it and do it better in both business and for personal use.
While I was sitting on the other side of the table from these students, I realized that they are so aware of social media because of their exposure each day – they are growing up in the digital age. They use it in their personal lives, they use it to find out information about school and extracurricular activities, where they should be socializing and use it to help them market their own student-run companies via participation in PRSSA and The Center for Social Commerce. They were rapidly tweeting away as W2O Group’s Medtronic client, Rob Clark, gave his keynote speech and they reached out to me via LinkedIn immediately after we spoke. The amount of seniors who shared with me that they aspire a career in digital marketing was overwhelming. They understand the impact that social media has on the world today, and it is their knowledge that will keep this ever changing industry moving forward.
After three days of confidently answering student questions and career concerns, I was asked a question that really stumped me. In a discussion about the impact that digital marketing has on the communications industry today, a professor asked how educators are supposed to teach Public Relations, Advertising and Marketing, separately, in different colleges, when they’re all so similar now.
This question really got me thinking because when I was in school, we knew this was coming, but it was still very much different. Now, it is a challenge to understand the difference, because in three short years, the merge has hit heavy and the future of communications is this multi-industry existence, landing us right in the lap of digital marketing.
After thinking about why we should separate Public Relations, Advertising, and Marketing, I came to this conclusion:
We live in a digital age where integrated communication is necessary. Maybe in 10 years, there will be a new “future of communications” path that we are all supposed to learn and follow, but for now, why do we need to keep them separate? I am fortunate that while I studied Public Relations, I was also exposed to Advertising and Marketing because this was the direction the industry was going, allowing me to pursue my career in digital marketing. So to answer the question I say, don’t treat these industries differently because honestly, they are not so different anymore; but at the same time, don’t forget everything we’ve always been taught (I promise this isn’t an oxymoron). What we know now is because of what we once learned and what we will know in the future is because of what we are learning now…and isn’t this really how the “future of communications” becomes that idea that leads to the “future of communications”?