[KD Paine contemplating the measure of a conversation. Photo by Shel]
Yesterday, I wrote about the difficulties of measuring a conversation, thus creating a measurement issue for PR people who use social media, a practice to which I think they have no choice in embracing.
My pal KD Paine the measurement maven, has done a good job of refuting some of the issues I raised yesterday. Years ago she and I had a chasm of philosophical differences between us. Now, it's just a few silly feet of cyberspace. We both understand that the entire communications industry is in a transformational phase, and that professional PR people need to adapt to the challenge for change and the clients they serve need to understand that the rules have changed to adapt into the Conversational Era that is replacing the Broadcast Era.
From my perspective--that of a recovering publicist turned social media champion--the smart PR people should embrace this new direction as a Golden Era.
There are many reasons why. Here are a few:
The most successful PR folk have never just smiled and dialed, have never just used a blanket pitch to extol virtues of a client. Instead, they have read editors before they called them, have found reasons to have conversations with their industry analysts when they were not pitching, have worked hard to become sources of information, rather than mere conduits of it. The best PR people have traditionally been unsung industry experts. They have been able to educate their clients on why some people prefer competitors about subtle but perhaps significant changes in the marketplace and perhaps what should be done about it.
2. You can now join the conversation as yourself
During my lengthy tenure as a PR practitioner, I sometimes found it difficult to remain the voice behind the ear of the actual spokesperson. I often knew as much as the spokesperson, better understood the needs of the person being presented too and felt I could add more value to hat was happening in the room than being the person delegated to carrying the paper press kits of that era.
Now, some of the best--and most popular--blogs are written by communications industry professionals. PR people pervade many Twitter neighborhoods. Their are many of them to be found at Facebook, even YouTube and Flickr.
PR people now are allowed to have their own voice. Speak from their personal perspective. They can talk with passion about their clients, so long as they are transparent about their perspective. Through conversations they can build actual relationships with people that make a difference--BEFORE there is a need to pitch.
It makes it much easier to have the conversation, my friend Shel Holtz talked about yesterday--the one that moves the needle for your client, the one that keeps you retained and compensated.
3. Social Media provides an infinity of potential PR "hits."
In days of traditional media, each PR client had a small cluster of relevant newspapers, broadcast, influencers to pitch and visit. Now we are the media. Each of us, through social media, can influence a market and very often one of us does.
Jessica Gottlieb didn't like an ad series produced by Motrin. Christine Lu felt the same way about a Pepsi ad. Both stopped campaigns with a few tweets. Every day, people on Twitter influence what others buy, watch, listen to; where they travel to; what they wear or drive; who they vote for and what they encourage their kids to do via social media.
A PR person can join these conversations and influence how the relationships people have with clients. The need to reach audiences through mass media intermediaries seems to diminish every day. And the ability to serve as a catalyst between client and customer grows strong by inverse proportion.
The key to these three points is that you need to be a good conversationalist. You need to listen well and you need to find interesting and useful tidbits to bring to social media other than "NuCo announces yet another widget to add to your blog."
If you have the misfortune to be a PR pro and be a crappy conversationalist. If that's the case, then you will probably do crappy work in social media or for that matter any other channel you choose to use.