Saturday, February 28, 2009

No Social Media Strategy Hurts Your Competitive Edge

K.D. Paine's The Measurement Standard is a must read for any PR Pro.  An entry from earlier this month identifies the six critical consequences individuals (and arguably companies) face by NOT participating in social media. With continuous talk about metrics and what companies and individuals stand to gain by implementing strategic social media tactics, K.D.'s post demonstrates (in a more detailed way) the dangers of inaction. Summarizing her six critical consequences of not participating:
  1. Loss of business intelligence
  2. Low or no market situational awareness
  3. Loss of or failure to establish personal brand or company brand awareness and voice
  4. No interaction means no credibility (or allies) when you may need it the most (think crisis communications)
  5. Loss of competitive advantage (slow response times/information blackout)
  6. Becoming obsolete
What are some of the other consequences of failing to consider and implement social media strategies (personally or for corporations)?

Monday, February 23, 2009

Update: Getting It (Now Part Deux)

Last November I posted a link to ZDNet's Jennifer Leggio's survey for internal MARCOMM folks to find out how satisfied internal people were their agency's ability to recommend, implement, sustain and measure social media campaigns.  Last Thursday, Jennifer posted the answers to her survey.  There are some VERY interesting findings in terms of how internal communicators view their agencies as well as some excellent insights into which PR agencies "get social media" and which ones need improvement.  Most notably, I agree with findings that solid traditional PR strategies and tactics are needed (gotta have a strong foundation) in addition to understanding social media and digital strategy. Check out Jennifer's survey results here.

In an effort to really measure PR Pros knowledge (or lack thereof) in social media, Jennifer along with Nicole Jordan have developed a second survey for PR Pros to really see what agencies/individuals are doing in the social media space, training, as well as understanding of business objectives and goals.  You can take the survey here.  It is 37 questions and it is open until March 31, 2009. Jennifer promises to post results to see if there truly is a disconnect between some of the responses received by internal corporate communicators and PR Pros/Agencies working in this space.

Come on PR Pros! Time to show what we know and what we're doing!  Take the survey!!!

Monday, February 16, 2009

PR's Evolving Role

I love Twitter.  I follow so many interesting PR Pros, Web/Graphic Designers, Public Affairs Officers, Social Media Gurus, Journalists, Political Strategists and Goverati types that use and love all different types of communication methods.  What strikes me as odd is that there seems to be a reoccurring topic that is the subject of blog and twitter posts: What PR is and what is isn't.

Don't get me wrong, anyone who's read anything on this blog knows that I have my views too. But lately, it seems the definition of PR is getting narrower - a definition that consists of pure media relations/outreach, writing of thought leadership pieces, market and competitive research, case studies and the occasional trade show or event planning support. 

I have said and believe that media relations will always be the staple of public relations (it's essentially the bread and butter of any agency with a PR department), but what I am consistently amazed at and wonder about is why PR is talked about as separate from the emerging social media and digital strategy methods that companies are demanding.  Is it because the perception is that many PR Pros lack the necessary skills to effectively understand, recommend and implement digital and social media strategies to clients?  Is it because traditional forms of the media (print and arguably some broadcast) are dying and therefore traditional PR tactics are too? Have we as an industry self-segmented (segregated) itself from the digital and social changes that have taken place in today's media? Or is the rise of new media tactics/strategy a market challenge to the traditional PR business practice and model?

Obviously it's probably a combination of these things plus many more aspects I failed to identify. In an industry where niches and specialization are praised for experience and the building of sustainable relationships (think about agencies specific practice units e.g. Health Care, Technology, Corporate, etc.), how are digital and social media strategies being integrated into current PR business models? Moreover, what input or influence do PR practitioners have on the planning, implementation, measurement and promotion of these strategies?

I increasingly read case studies where the lines between a good marketing and PR campaign are often blurred (and rightly so) because of the different channels used to execute the strategy. My sense is good communication campaigns are becoming a lot like the model used (NOT LIKE) multichannel marketing. It takes more than one media vehicle to communicate to a target audience.

What's your take on the ever evolving definition of PR? What skills and abilities do PR Pros need in today's market? Moreover, what role should PR Pros play in the recommendation and execution of digital and social media strategy?

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Don't Be A Source - Be A RESOURCE

I participated in journchat last night (#journchat for those searching Twitter).  There was an interesting discussion about media relations and I shared my professional opinion:

PR approach: don't be a "source." Strive to be a RESOURCE for media and customers. Not about just getting publicly noticed #journchat.

This got a great response from those attending #journchat (You are all awesome!) and I got a couple of DMs asking me what did I mean by "resource." Here are my thoughts FWIW:
  • Being a resource means never trolling for ink. It means that as nice as it would be to be mentioned in print, it's not necessary (and statistically improbable) for a journalist to mention you every time you talk to them. Encourage your clients to agree to do informational/background interviews and give quality information and insight. At the end of the day, the story may not be about you, but if you help members of the media get a better understanding of an issue or a specific product or service, they remember and will return to you to help them with future stories.
  • What else you got? Quotes and insight are great but let's all remember that the media is facing tough times and newsrooms don't have the resources they once had.  Video, pictures, diagrams, interactive Web sites, UX sites, Q&As, backgrounders, social media sites, etc. Develop content that helps makes the media stories meaningful while still engaging your core stakeholders and customers. Don't just speak and expect that's enough to keep the media or their readership/listeners/participants engaged.
  • One size does not fit all.  Media kits are great for a snapshot/overview, but like pitches, information and content needs to be tailored to specific audiences.  For example, if you are working with a trade editor that has a detailed technical knowledge of semiconductors, make sure you have an appropriate SME that can address technical questions (without revealing proprietary information or trade secrets). Again don't expect a cover story. Work to educate the media and other stakeholders at the appropriate levels of interest and engagement. At the end of the day it's about relationships.
  • Media relations is a two-way street (push and pull). Media aren't mind readers. Soft soundings are more crucial now more than ever. Clients want to know if their info is interesting before they spend money to develop expensive digital strategies to support their services and products. Media don't want to sift through boring company information that just fills space. By becoming a trusted resource over time, clients remain top of mind and PR professionals serve a valuable function to both parties, demonstrating integrity while managing reasonable media relations return on results for clients.
I welcome your comments and feedback.