The headline of Julia Hood's Feb. 16 column in PRWeek, "Don't get Pinterest yet? It's OK
caused me to twinge slightly. Not because I'm some social media snob
who thinks that every PR pro must be an expert on every social network
and emerging technology.
Rather because it strikes me as odd that an editor at a
publication that is supposed to champion the value and work of the PR
industry would seemingly be communicating that it's perfectly fine for
PR pros not to "get" a social platform that's very much starting to
Before I dive in, let me add some more context to Hood's column. She writes, rather humbly, that she first learned of Pinterest from a conversation with Dade Hayes, an SVP at Rubenstein Communications after PRWeek launched its Tumblr
a few weeks back. That conversation got her researching Pinterest where
she learned what many PR pros already know: Pinterest is for real. It's
not going anywhere soon. And we better get to understanding it—fast—as
our clients and employers will surely be keen to know its benefits to
Hood goes on to say that in the digital age, PR pros feel
"extraordinary pressure to stay on top of the news, so that we can
deliver the best solutions to our companies and clients." I certainly
While I appreciate her point of view that it's sometimes
best to see how new technologies and communications tactics play out
(certainly true in the digital age), I'm not sure it's best for the PR
industry to tell the business community that it's "OK" if we don't get
Pinterest yet (or other emerging social networks).
After all, companies often turn to PR professionals and
agencies for guidance on how to effectively use emerging social networks
and technologies. Do we really want to say to them, "Well, it's OK that
you don't understand it yet because neither do we."
Ultimately, PR pros don't need to be experts on every
emerging technology and platform. Very few are. But we do need to be
aware of the technology that will impact our clients' businesses, and we
absolutely should serve as a guide for them for what lies ahead in the
consumer and B-to-B comms and reputation management space. That is our
job as PR pros and counselors to their business.
So no, it is not "OK" to not "get" Pinterest yet. That ship
has sailed. It is now our job to help our clients get its value if,
indeed, it will serve some use to their business. What is OK, though, is
to have a healthy perspective on when it is best to devote time and
resources to learning about a new technology versus when it is best to
hold back and fully assess the market. In that regard, Hood's final
point is spot on:
"There are benefits to seeing things play out—and seeing the
mistakes that others make by jumping into waters they don't fully
Keith Trivitt is the associate director of public relations for the Public Relations Society of America. A version of this post first appeared on PRbreakfastclub.com.