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#PRin2012: Social Validation Becomes the ‘Holy Grail’

Editor’s note: This is the sixth in a series of 12 guest posts from industry executives predicting key trends that will impact the public relations industry in 2012. Hosted under the hashtag #PRin2012, the series began Dec. 19, 2011, with a compilation post previewing all 12 predictions.

Anyone keeping tabs on the booming social TV / second-screen revolution wherein TV viewers receive program-related content and conversation via mobile apps like GetGlue, IntoNow, Miso and my favorite, Umami (a Flatiron client), will be familiar with the now-regular reports touting the week’s “most social TV programs.” Companies like Trendrr, BlueFin Labs and Social Guide are crunching Twitter and Facebook’s data streams to determine which shows generate the most buzz. (Recent winners included “WWE Raw” on cable and “The X Factor” on broadcast.)

In predicting where the PR industry may be headed, I’m beginning to believe that a campaign’s ability to produce buzz in social or shared media is a valid, if not Holy Grail barometer, of one’s success plying the “earned, owned and paid” media spheres. Six months ago I said as much in a blog post that revisited the oft-quoted Forrester Research infographic showing the new “interactive marketing paradigm.”

There are now a myriad of apps, channels, platforms and devices on which our clients’ messages might reside and spread. The new paradigm for success will track our ability to create original content that’s sufficiently compelling to spur shared, aggregated or curated conversations. The new currency of success will take the form of tweets, retweets, likes and favorites on Facebook, Twitter and Google+, and eventually will play out in an entirely new ecosystem of personal social media aggregators like Storify,, Tumblr,, Flipboard, Storyful, Google Currents, Pulse, Zite, Livestand and Instagram, among others.

In spite of all the changes and challenges we’re witnessing in the PR industry, a core (and bankable) competency still involves building a positive client-branded presence in the media — one that enhances business and reputation. Buzz in the social spheres, however, will be a desired and essential bi-product of this effort, wherein digital denizens gladly share our clients’ messages with their friends, family, fans and followers across a growing multitude of channels.

Peter Himler (@PeterHimler) is the founding principal of New York-based Flatiron Communications.

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Peter Himler

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