MENLO PARK, CA: PR is emerging as the favoured keeper of corporate social media responsibilities, with marketing slipping down the ladder, research has shown.

When staffing firm The Creative Group polled more than 400 advertising and marketing executives it found that just over half (51%) felt PR and communications departments were best suited to handle corporate social media channels.

That marked a 12 point rise in two years – a similar study in 2013 reported that 39% thought the PR/communications function should be dealing with this activity.

And while marketing was then roughly at the same level – 35% – a significant gap has subsequently appeared as just 28% now regard it as the best department to oversee social media.

Customer service experienced a similar decline in favour, from 15% to 9%, while 5% continued to prefer business owners and CEOs for the task.

"Social media can affect a company's reputation, so it stands to reason that this channel is tied closely to public relations," said Diane Domeyer, executive director of The Creative Group, in remarks reported by PR Daily.

The channel has of course been the source of numerous PR and marketing disasters since brands started using it and it has become essential to establish procedures and protocols to follow that can be, as one Microsoft executive recently argued, turned into opportunities for showing off superior customer service skills.

This approach helped Chevrolet deal with a developing crisis when a Chevy representative stumbled over his words while presenting the Most Valuable Player award at the end of the 2014 World Series.

His statement that a new truck contained a winning combination of "technology and stuff" quickly became a Twitter meme. But since the automaker had a team in place, it was able to formulate a strategy and upload its own tweet in the right conversation at the right time and so reshape online chatter.

Data sourced from PR Daily; additional content by Warc staff