Community management doesn't get the credit it deserves. Too often, it is left to junior staff, with little guidance or appreciation of how important the task is. We consider it the pivotal point of engagement: where the community manager becomes a voice for the brand and to some extent, the guardian of reputation.
Public relations agencies have a natural affinity in this space. It is after all about creating earned media through different social networks. However, the key challenge for PR lies in a lack of understanding around the technologies they are using. This can be as simple as knowing how to optimizing user-experiences, or as detrimental as trying to hide or cover up mistakes and negative comments.
Another challenge is that, for the most part, PR agencies are new to "digital" — whereas any digital agency worth its weight is filled to the brim with employees who spent their youth, adolescence, and adulthood inside forums and online communities.
Where PR trumps everyone else, however, is that it truly understands stories. Whether for news, articles, video, or infographics, PR agencies have teams of people who know to create and distribute compelling stories. It doesn’t take much to transfer these skills to writing content calendars that blow the competition away.
In addition, when it comes to managing online communities around a crisis, PR agencies again have years of experience that enables them to understand the best decisions to make around key messages and positioning, and the foresight to anticipate much larger issues and implications.
It is important to note, though, that community management is just a foundation for social CRM. This is a rich new space for all brands, especially those in the service industries. And while community management may be a new space for many PR agencies in Asia, I'm focused on developing comprehensive customer programs that are about engagement, commerce, and service.