Social search is cool. But what does it mean for traditional PR?

I was reading a very interesting post from Altimeter Group’s Charlene Li about the new developments from Bing and it’s integration with Facebook search. As the web continues to dominate every facet of life, having the knowledge and ability to manipulate social networks to communicate a client’s message is an ongoing debate within the PR community.

I’ve long argued that social media is good for PR because it allows us to bring an element of science to what has traditionally been viewed as a ‘fluffy’ profession. Traditional PR purists would argue that PR is fundamentally about relationships which by their very nature can’t be measured and often hark back to the days when a strategic booze-fuelled lunch with an editor would guarentee a client coverage. While the times have moved on from then, I do think there is a danger that in a world of metrics, we lose sight of the importance of relationships. This is where the social media idealists often clash with the social media sceptics.

Social search, however, changes this by bringing together the best of both worlds. Seeing what friends or colleagues find interesting or helpful will always form the basis of our buying decisions. Being able to transfer that offline relationship online in a way that can be measured has now become the holy grail for the PR community.