I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about the rising importance of digital media in the last few weeks.

What used to be something I took an interest in during my spare time is now a central part of my job, day-in and day-out. In truth, new media is not particularly “new,” but it has evolved quickly in recent years. Fortunately, I’m comfortable with technology and have been able to learn new technologies and be an early adopter, as appropriate, for my clients/employers.

I’m very proud to say that I took my first (and only) HTML class in 1994, developed my first client website in 1998 and started this blog in 2004. I even met my son’s father on a listserv in 1997 — long before online dating was trendy! Digital and social technologies became a part of both my personal and work life when the domain was reserved for self-proclaimed geeks. Today, digital technologies are more than mainstream, they are a way of life. There are endless platforms available for promoting brands and engaging audience. As a result, virtually everyone in the PR, communications, marketing and advertising industry seems to be in catch-up mode, clamoring to prove their expertise in the space.

Earlier this month at the PR News Digital PR Summit, I had the good fortune of presenting on a panel about Creating a Digital Dream Team (scroll through PR News TV at PR News Online for an interview by me on the subject). During Q&A, I was asked what kind of expertise I look for when I am hiring someone for a digital media role. My answer was direct and, to my entertainment, widely Tweeted: “I’d be skeptical of people who bill themselves as ‘gurus’ or ‘experts’ in #SM. We’re all making it up as we go.”

Ultimately, expertise in the digital space is not about knowing the trendy new platforms nor even about successfully executing one or two campaigns. When I evaluate whether people can be successful in the digital space, I want to know they will begin with a clear strategy (what are we trying to accomplish?) and are willing to invest the time to develop meaningful relationships with the audiences they are trying to engage. I want to know that they will fully integrate digital and social strategies into their overall plans, not see digital or social platforms as separate programs. The ability to understand the value of integration is what matters most to me.

Diving deeper into the subject of integration, I recently published “Integrating Social Media into PR Plans: What You Need to Know” in the PRSA Strategist.

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