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It all began with Ben Garrett’s innocent posting on PRSA’s ComPRehension blog
“Status Update: Millennial Staffers Can Update Your Social Media Plans” in which he recommended we tap into new professional’s experiences and skills in the social media arena. The innocent turned a little ugly with the use of phrases that sound a bit demeaning to younger professionals, and perhaps because the role suggested was just another version of “serve the coffee” rather than “help us learn.”

This post spread on Twitter – much like the wild fires in CA.

Then back to the blog – where comments and replies fanned the fires.

And generated of course a number of blog posting like this from Maddie Grant which offers a very case study of the scenerio and Lauren Fernandez’s which offers a reply from a young professional with valuable insight and good suggestions.

The point here isn’t to rehash Ben’s posting but to point out the lessons learned and the opportunities afforded to organizations when we open the doors – and windows and all other portals – for conversation.

First the challenge. Rarely does an expressed opinion have no detractors. It becomes for all of us a challenge to balance the opportunity to nurture discussion – which leads to new thinking, new solutions, new opportunities – without letting the discussion undo the good. Remember the line of advice given to married couples: never go to bed angry?

Now the opportunity. When we open all the portals, welcome discourse, we draw others in – we demonstrate that we have a community that cares. Vibrant discourse can yield new ways of thinking and new solutions. It can even yield knowledge creation.

In this case, Ben’s blog posting did just that. It’s provided a case study on social media for all PR professionals, generated interest in their blog (of course we’ll have to wait and see how much), drew in new people.

This is a whole new area for many which is precisely why PRSA Maryland’s annual conference on Oct 6 is focused on the new and traditional media. One session by Weber Shandwick’s Bill Atkinson “Defending Corporate Reputation in the Age of Social Media” covers the new crisis pr while David Warchawski will help us decipher the role of the new tools in our PR strategy.

What’s your take on social media tools – challenge or opportunity?

–Industry News