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Are PR Week's Power 50 Influential Online?

Power RangersIn July, PR Week published its annual PR Power List (subscription required), recognizing the public relations and corporate communications professionals its staff deems the 50 most powerful in the industry.

These are individuals who have the “ability to produce an effect with one’s actions and to induce third parties to act in response to them.”

2011 PR Power List & Social Media

Social media has transformed the way that we communicate and do business. Therefore, in 2008, we were a bit surprised that none of the Power List influentials were on Twitter, and that in 2010 less than half of them were.

In the past year, however, these industry influentials have made some social strides online, but there is still a ways to go. For example, there are more people actively using Twitter effectively (up 14 percent from 2010), on LinkedIn (up six percent from 2010) and blogging (up 16 percent from 2010).

Note: This year, PR Week increased its list to 50 individuals from 25; therefore, some of these improvements may be the result of a larger sample size.

A breakdown of social activity is below.*

  • Nineteen of the Power 50 do not have Twitter profiles. Note: An additional 11 individuals may or may not have a profile; PR 20/20 couldn’t confirm their identities.  
  • Eleven individuals have Twitter accounts and use them effectively, meaning that they share interesting, relevant information and engage with their followers. 
  • Nine people have identifiable Twitter accounts, but do not use them as effectively as possible, meaning that they post infrequently, lack a bio or photo, or are overly self promotional.
  • Thirty-three individuals have LinkedIn profiles.
  • Eighteen contribute to either a corporate or personal blog.

In evaluating social activity, we also discovered a core group of individuals at the lower end of the list who demonstrated effective social media use. In fact, out of the eleven individuals using Twitter effectively, seven of these ranked #44 or below. In addition, nine out of the eleven were new to the list in 2011. This could indicate that social media participation will play a larger role in the future when determining a person’s influence level.

In addition, on the 2011 list, Twitter’s vice president of communications joined executives from Facebook and Google (both of whom were also included on the 2010 list), demonstrating the power of these online giants themselves.

The Role of Social Media in Public Relations

As we explained last year, we’re not questioning whether the non-active individuals are powerful—we know they are.

However, with the steady growth of social networks, and the abundance of industry conversations taking place on these channels, we believe social media is a valid and important channel for sharing opinions and ideas, which will continue to gain influence in the future and enable individuals to achieve power in new ways. 

Therefore, the inactives in the Power 50 miss opportunities to share their expertise, learn from others, exchange resources, discuss the future of the industry, and expand the services they offer their clients/companies.

What do you think: Is social media participation important for executives to gain and maintain influence? How do you measure power in the PR industry? Share your thoughts below.

* In July 2011, we conducted name searches on Google, Twitter and LinkedIn of the winners. If you think we missed you, please let us know below in the comments or connect with us on Twitter @pr2020.

Tracy DiMarino is a consultant at PR 20/20, a Cleveland-based inbound marketing agency and PR firm. Follow Tracy on Twitter @TracyDiMarino.

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Image Credit: Alvaro Felipe

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