To listen to the blogosphere you would think the 30-second TV spot is toast — no longer relevant.  It’s not toast and those spots still work.  Advertising – TV or otherwise still has its place and value in an integrated media marketing strategy.

It’s easy to know what to do with a TV ad.  Advertisers buy a time slot that makes sense for the product or service and put the ad on TV.

What’s not so obvious is what to do with social media.  Once you determine your message, then what?  Tweet it?  Facebook it? Podcast it? Blog it?  And once you do it, have you done “advertising” or “public relations”?

The answers to those questions come somewhat organically, if you look at what you are trying to accomplish.

In this 30-second spot from overseas…

You get a little of both.  The sly advertiser gives you a chuckle and warm fuzzies for the brand as well.  You might go out of your way to watch this spot on YouTube and recommend it to friends.  It’s clearly an ad, but there is a hint of PR in there as well.

Most traditional spots, however don’t have that luxury.  You will not go out of your way to view a YouTube spot for the tried-and-true, “Come on down to Joes’ dealership and look at our rock bottom prices.” ad.  You just won’t.

But Joe can get your attention using social media if he’s smart enough to look at some long-term goals.

Let’s say Joe realizes times are tough and he wants to help – but he also wants to get credit for helping, so people will like and trust Joe and come see his rock bottom prices.

What can Joe do?  He can easily create (or have created) a video, using a $150 flip-cam on how to do routine maintenance on your car — change your oil, spark plugs, headlight bulbs etc.  Or he can do a blog with digital photos showing step-by-step instructions.  If Joe is a Toyota Dealer he could write about what he’s doing to handle accelerator problems, he might even go on camera to explain.  If nothing else he can post links to these services and messages that other people are generating. (Note: many local dealers have done this.)

Once the message is created, he tweets the link, posts it on his website and Facebook Fan page and does anything else possible to make people find it.  He might even assign a mechanic to answer questions from customers, making it a “conversation.”

The idea, as PR expert Marsha Friedman writes, is to emerge as a thought leader.

People will come to know Joe as a dealer who provides valuable information they need in a pinch.  They will see him as the guy who told it straight when things got tough with his cars.  Over time, Joe will be seen not just as the “price” guy, but the go-to guy.  Maybe Joe could even trade some of that positive PR or “PR equity” as we call it at Entwine, for slightly higher prices and margins.

Wouldn’t it be great if people thought, “His prices may be a bit higher but the peace of mind is worth it.”

That’s Social PR.