This week I was a panel speaker at a seminar on PR & Media in a New Media World hosted by Mile High Social Media Club. The panel guests also included Elaine Ellis of Metzger Associates and Jason Kintzler founder and CEO of PitchEngine. The seminar was attended by mostly PR professionals and bloggers who submitted questions for the panel to answer.

I was honestly surprised to hear the public relation field is working to figure out the purpose and uses for social media just as media outlets are doing. What didn't surprise me is how differently everyone thinks of social media. Which in itself is what social media is because social media is whatever you want it to be. The one clear belief I have is that social media is to be used with a plan, strategy and goal. Even if you use social media to connect with friends or family or to make friends, that should be your only purpose on that social media platform. For example I have a Facebook page that I have to keep in touch with friends and family. I am very selective on who I accept as as a friend. Twitter I use to relate my job in the newsroom and to share news with those who interact with me. These are truly separate uses of the platforms, i.e. my strategies.

One question we were asked was, is it traditional media and social media, or just media? My answer: media. For me media is the tool that is used as the news conduit. Whether that is through a social media platform or a written article or live newscast it is all media. I also don't think that if traditional media outlets view social media platforms as completely separate and different from themselves, social media platforms may never be truly embraced and used.

This is why I liked this morning while viewing all of the Twitter chatter on the seminar, #MHSMC, I saw that @Tajmo proposed that we just use a new term: Social Relations. For me, this encompasses what social media is and does in all ways that is is used. I use it to further my relations with my friends and family. I use it to create relations with community members who could watch CBS4 News or log onto Whatever your business is, if you are able to create a relationship with someone who never or rarely uses your product, that person may soon try you out.

Another question we were asked is what is the value of the traditional press release? I was the only one of the panelists who said, yes there is still value in the traditional press release. Why? I am an anomaly in the news business. Very few others work the way I do in social media. I may prefer to be pitched stories via social media platforms, but my coworkers who are still figuring out social media, still expect the traditional press release. The newsroom still receives faxed press releases. It's true!

When I joined CBS4 News in 2000 we received hundreds a faxes every day that were filed in daily/monthly folders for planning purposes. Now those files sit primarily empty, as we now receive hundreds a emails that are filed in our computer system. In a world where we still have folders and faxes, the traditional press release still has value. Yes, this will change to social media pitches as it did from faxes to emails, but it has not changed yet.

I learned a lot during the seminar and hope those who attended took away some insights and talking points as well.