‘Watch out!’ warns social media expert Adam Gray, if you work in PR you must adapt to survive

Adam Gray is a social media expert and author of Brilliant Social Media. Gray has worked on some of the earliest social networks and since 1999, he has been working exclusively in social media.

Gray says that he chose to focus on social media because as a veteran of the traditional marketing and advertising industry, he was increasingly frustrated that response from conventional campaigns was so unpredictable. He adds: “Without doubt, for me, the most inspiring aspect of working in social media is that you can see first-hand if what you are saying and doing is working. In every other branch of communications the action you take is divorced from the result and often you have to infer what’s worked and what hasn’t. In social if you ‘say’ something and it gets comment, likes and retweets then it’s worked … simple.”

Surprisingly, Gray’s first ambition was to play the violin. He says: “I trained as a concert violinist and thought that music would be my life. However, I’ve always had an interest in technology and creativity – so what I have done isn’t a million miles away from those things. And, with the talks that I give sometimes being in front of quite large audiences it reminds me of the buzz I used to get being on stage playing. So, as is often the case with people, the things that I loved when I was young and were such an important part of my life have heavily influenced who I am and what I now do.”

Gray is a great believer in following your passions. He explains: “I would say to anyone starting out to do something that you love. Often when we set-out we do a job that we hate thinking ‘I’ll just do this until …’ but this is a very slippery slope. Do what you love, do it well, work hard at it and success will follow.”

This does not mean to say that there won’t be setbacks on your path to success. Gray himself says that he his career has not always run smooth: “I’ve taken so many wrong turns. Working with the wrong people, the wrong clients, and poor business decisions – too many mistakes to mention. But, the biggest one (and now that I don’t do it any more I’m amazed that I ever did do it), is not having a plan. I’d been told about it hundreds of times and never done it. Then when I really focused on what I wanted to do and where I wanted to be, things started to happen. It’s a lot easier to say ‘no’ to things if you can measure them against your journey to get where you want to be.”

Discussing advice he would like to offer the PR industry, Gray says: “Watch out!” adding: “Every industry goes through massive shake-ups and only those able to adapt to this are able to survive. Now, more than ever, everyone can do their own PR so agencies need to really grasp what value they’re adding. If they think they’re selling press release writing, new feed submission and a press cutting service they’re living on borrowed time. Everyone (not just PR consultants) should be forced to read the book Funky Business to understand how the global village and niche positioning will strengthen their business and their relationships.”

Adam Gray, Social Media expert

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