In a recent Advertising Age post, the current trend of agencies creating social media units was questioned. The notion that social media is a distinct discipline outside the traditional realm of corporate communications and deserves its own business model is one that deserves discussion. 

This is similar to the late 1990s when people began to believe that the Internet was its own business model. As we saw then, this is a fallacy. The fact is that the Internet facilitates business. Social media facilitates corporate communication. It's not the only way to communicate with the public, just another way. 

So why do some agencies believe differently? Why are they dedicating entire business units to a single line of communication? It seems absurd, as marketing and communications are holistic disciplines that rely on the interdependence between discrete channels. To segregate one channel from the rest is to isolate and diminish not only that one channel, but the entire operation. 

Social media initiatives need to be integrated into an overall strategy for comprehensive public relations campaigns. Yes, they are an important piece of the puzzle, but in actuality, not any more important than the other pieces. 

As the post author states, creating a separate division for social media tells your clients that the rest of your organization is behind the times. Recognizing the contribution that social media can make to a PR strategy and incorporating it into the campaign makes more sense than turning it loose on its own.