With the exception of one brief era, all human communications can be characterised as social media. Epic poetry, fireside storytelling and conversations have dominated our collective history.
The exceptional era has been the industrial age, which introduced mass media (large circulation newspapers and broadcasting). We're now emerging into a post-industrial age in which mass media sits alongside new forms of web-enabled social media.
So to suggest that public relations is returning to a more conversational style involving community building and storytelling is not to predict something new, but rather to describe a return to something more traditional.
This was one of our discussion points from a guest lecture I gave for London Metropolitan University PR students yesterday.