I attended the PRSA T3 event in New York this week on Sept 11th… a day of sad memories. I’m surprised that the event was scheduled on such an important day for New York and for those of us who have been so personally affected from the terrorist attack on New York and our country. And this decision from a group of public relations professionals…

OK, I did really enjoy the event. The folks who organized the event should take a bow. It was first class in every way. It was stacked with excellent content and superb speakers. The day started off with Paul Gillin, the author of “The New Influencers” and was quickly followed up with Peter Shankman of Help a Reporter Out (HARO). Talk about world-class and a wonderful user presentation from George Wright of Blendtec (www.willitblend.com) on how to use viral marketing to spread the word with no budget using out of the box thinking.

I thought Peter did an excellent job at putting social media in its correct context. He said that “there is no such thing as social media. There is life”. Social media is but an extension of life. If you would not do something in real life, then why would you do it online? For example, I doubt you would “poke” your partners or customers. So, why do it online?

This perspective brings to the surface one of the biggest objections I often hear about. It directly raises the issue of the seriousness of social media a tool for marketers. The first mainstream phase of social media solutions that have received the greatest market awareness (MySpace and Facebook) have shown the possibilities of “fun”, but never have connected to businesses and marketers, except for the most horizontal business products such as Coke and Pepsi. It all validates Peter Shankman’s perspective that there really is no such thing as social media. There is only life.

There is life though for marketers, who are able to learn from MySpace and Facebook and make it better resemble life. I think of these products as a second generation match.com. That by the way is the origin of Facebook… looking to meet girls at Harvard. It certainly was not a world where a vertically oriented marketer could find comfort. It still isn’t.

By the way, if you a marketer with PR responsibilities make sure you look at Help a Reporter Out (www.haro.com). It is a great resource for locating authors looking for sources to complete their stories. And it’s all free.