Why PR Needs to Wake-Up

4 03 2010

The bulk of the PR profession needs a wake up call and fast.   We have seen what is happening to print media at a regional level in the UK and US and the UK national newspaper heartland will be the next sector to feel the squeeze.  Never mind the quality of the Sunday papers, feel the width.  Not as bulky as they used to be are they?

Broadcast media is changing too, with event TV dominating schedules and more traditional content being driven by on-demand services.  The cosy relationships where PR people sit between journalists and clients trafficking ‘news’ just isn’t enough any more.

So here are five things every PR person should be thinking about.

1. Earned Media 

Media coverage achieved for clients in the digital world falls into three categories; bought, earned and owned.  ‘Bought media’ was always and is still the province of the advertising business.  ‘Earned media’ is the heartland of PR.  At one level this is just the online version of editorial but it is richer and deeper than that.  We should be collaborating to create content that will earn coverage.  Audio interviews, creative videos posted on YouTube and disseminated across the web as well as words and pictures are the collateral we must use.

 2. Owned Media 

We can create our own spaces on-line that have the capacity to become channels in their own right.  I firmly believe that PR people should blog but the concept of ‘owned media’ can extend much further.  Relevant content brings people to you.  The PR and corporate communications team at ASDA know this.  They have 18 million shoppers, mostly mums and they have used that weight to engage with the major parties during the coming general election and will be using their ‘owned’ channels to host political debate.

3. Reputation Online

“Google is not a search engine. Google is a reputation-management system. And that’s one of the most powerful reasons so many CEOs have become more transparent: Online, your rep is quantifiable, findable, and totally unavoidable. In other words, radical transparency is a double-edged sword, but once you know the new rules, you can use it to control your image in ways you never could before.”  These words were written by Clive Thompson in Wired almost three years ago. PR has always been about reputation management  and arguably a key determinant of reputation is the content on page one of a Google Search. Search therefore is very important to PR.

4. PR & SEO 

If you’re not sure what SEO is you may be in the wrong job.  The most important tool that search engine optimisation specialists have at their disposal is now the ‘press release’. They may in many cases be badly written, off message and even inaccurate but the SEO companies are all using them, with embedded links.   This is a serious threat to the PR industry as it stands.  If we don’t educate ourselves about the value of good editorial and link strategies as part of PR, we’ll be left behind.  Whatever you think about the idea of ‘social media releases’ when you send out content to the media you should embed links. 

5. Evaluation     

We’ve always claimed we don’t like rate card equivalent and then used it any way.  Well now is our chance.  So much of what is online can be measured, sorted and analysed and we need to know how to do this.  Every PR person should have a least a working knowledge of web analytics and should be able to manage tools for analysing conversations on-line.

All of these areas are natural extensions of traditional PR but that doesn’t mean we own them.  We need to stake our claim …or others will.





Strategic Social Media. Manchester

2 12 2009

I am currently at the Strategic Social Media Conference in Manchester. I gave the opening presentation and have been tweeting for most of the day using the hashtag #stratsm but I’ve been missing a trick.  I have an iPod touch with me and I could have been live blogging using the WordPress app on the touch.

Well I am now.  Robin Wilson of my alma mater McCann Manchester is now on stage talking about evaluation. I know Robin a bit but I’ve never seen him speak before.  He’s good and generous with his knowledge.

Evaluation is a major topic in social media marketing.  There are a myriad of free tools like HowSociable, Icerocket and Board Tracker; all using key word searches.  The really powerful tools however are paid for – Radian 6 and Andiamo are just two of the many Robin mentioned.

It’s been a good conference. Martin Thomas co-author of Crowdsurfing was a highlight for me but the live feedback for all of the sessions has been good;  Alex Aitken, Mark Hanson, Sarah Hartley, Ann Longley, Simon Collister, Sarah Lundy, Craig Elder and of course Robin have all provided great insight. 

Don’t Panic Events ran the UK’s first ever social media coverage in 2005 so no surprise that they know how to get it right.  By the way Robin is still speaking but my battery is running low.





Upcoming Events

8 09 2009

This blog is a companion to my book ‘Public Relations and the Social Web’ , so if you are reading this you probably have some interest in the subject and might like to know about some events that I will be speaking at in the next few weeks. 

On the 16 September I will be talking about ‘The Cutting Edge of Digital PR’  at the Chartered Institute of Public Relations(CIPR) in London. It is a freshly squeezed breakfast briefing. 

Then on 6 October I will be running a session on Social Media in Leeds for the CIPR Northern Conference.  The one day conference has a great line up Alistair Campbell, former press secretary to Tony Blair, topping the bill.  Also in the line up are Yasmin Diamond, Director of Communication at the Home Office; Heather McGregor, Columnist for the Financial Times. 

There will also be masterclasses from Stuart Bruce, MD of Wolfstar; Sarah Knight, Engagement and PR Director at BJL; the eponymous Andy Green of Green Communications; Paul Willis, Director of the Centre for Public Relations Studies at Leeds Business School (LMU) and Robin Wilson Director of Digital PR and Social Media at McCann Erickson; plus more besides.

Then on the 30 October I will be speaking at the International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Summit at Merchant Taylors Hall, Threadneedle Street, London.





Link Building the New Cross Promotion

26 03 2009

For twenty years or more the marketing industry has been obsessed with the idea of integration.  The nature of the internet is such that if we don’t integrate our online communications may for ever languish in some digital backwater.  

The idea of a link or hyperlink is central to the concept of the world wide web.  If we want to increase traffic to our online content then we need to find ways of creating links that will take people to it.  You need to understand how links work and build linking strategies into your digital PR programmes.  You can if you choose, work with specialists in this area, but if budgets don’t allow there are some basics that you can learn and should implement. 

Unless you have used a search engine, following a link is one of the most common ways to find new content on the web.  A link suggests authority not just in the Technorati sense but in the literal sense.  If a site you trust offers to lead you somewhere for more information you are more likely to have a look.   Link building is about quantity, but for this reason it is also clearly about quality.  Links also elevate your Google rankings. Search engines give sites with good genuine links a higher ranking. 

In many senses the social web is about community and by having links to other places you are playing your part in the community. Effective and appropriate linking can make you part of a powerful network.





Follow Friday Five #4

13 03 2009

Here are five blogs that you might want to start following this Friday. With four consecutive posts I can safely claim this as a regular feature.  The idea is borrowed from the twitter concept of  Follow Friday with a faint whiff of Ian Dale’s Daley Dozen but with a lower blog count. 

Here are the latest five that you might want to dip into or add to your RSS reader …on a Friday.  As ever it is a spectrum that covers PR, a bit of politics, some media and other stuff to.  Here’s the smorgasbord for this Friday…

1.  Alastair Campbell.org   Love him or loathe him, and for me it’s neither, you can not deny his iconic status.  He’s a journalist, he know’s a great deal and this blog is a great read.  He’s a spin doctor who has reinvented himself as a social web aficionado. Log on and have a look.

2. Stephen Newton’s diary of sorts… One of the first ever Manchester bloggers and the voice or reason.  Stephen tackles big subjects and always has a great angle.  I liked the Cadburys eyebrow ad…he didn’t. One of my top picks since way back when.

3. MAD or Media Arts and Disruption. (Disclosure: it’s from TBWA\ and I work for the group but I’m not involved with the blog) If you work in advertising or marketing, MAD is a must add to your RSS. Great work.

4. PR nowandthen The work of Katie Moffatt or Katie Rocket as she is known in some social media circles. She is self effacing but really gets it all, far more than most.  How many people do you know from the North of England that are currently at the SXSW Interactive Festival in Austin Texas?

5. Sarah Hartley – The Hartley 2.0 blog, not as essential as H2O  the personal blog of journalist Sarah Hartley who is the head digital honcho at the Manchester Evening News. She blogs for them and also on food hence her social media moniker ‘Foodie Sarah’.

Enjoy. It’s all good.  
 





Labour Draper is at it Again

11 03 2009

Derek Draper has recently returned to the Labour fold to champion their social media offensive after many years of absence.  He is a  spin doctor of the old school who seems incapable of ditching the smoke and mirrors.  He has been building a following  on twitter but his account was suspended yesterday as a result of unusual activity, which usually means you have been breaking twitter rules in terms of the number of people that you are trying to follow. In effect spamming.

He however appears to be suggesting that it didn’t happen, and points the finger at political bloggers Ian Dale and Guido “they are saying that my account is supended, which it isn’t.”  Well it may not be now but it was.  Now that he is back in twitter fold it would be interesting to see how many people the spinmeister is following who are not following him back.  What would be a reasonable figure, 20, 50, 100 or even 500? As of this moment @DerekDraper is following 1551 who are not following him. Smells of spam to me. What all politicos need to realise when they are operating in the social web is that it is all in public.  Put away the mirrors and spare us the smoke.





The Third Wave of Digital Influence

23 02 2009

A fierce debate is playing out as to what skills are best suited to the conditions created by a digital world to which everybody has access.   The era of single message mass marketing is coming to an end. In a presentation to 250 marketing and advertising executives in New York in late 2007,  Facebook founder and CEO Mark Zuckerberg said “for the last hundred years media has been pushed out to people, but now marketers are going to be a part of the conversation and they’re going to do this by using the social graph in the same way our users do.”

I believe that we have now entered a third phase since the inception of digital marketing.  The first phase was a technical one, the second was built around design and creativity and this third phase is characterised by the democratisation of content.   In the nineties when businesses first launched commercial web sites you hade to be a programmer or coder to build a website.  The industry was wholly reliant on technicians.  Specialist agencies sprang up and clients were in their thrall and people had to place their trust entirely in the hands of digital specialists.  Over time coding became more commoditised and new programmes allowed the less technical to do more and more.  The creative and design community started to be able to exert more of an influence.  The look and feel as well as the functionality of a website becomes more important.  In this second phase designers and creatives gained pre-eminence in the field of digital marketing. 

The third wave of digital communications is characterised by user generated content and templated designs that can be adapted and customised  (like the Wordpress template for this blog)  and are now widely available. More importantly much of what we see on screen is originated in a space beyond the control of clients or agencies.  Content comes from lots of different places the skills that are important to the marketing function are not hard technical skills, nor are they predominantly aesthetic but they are the softer management skills of diplomacy and influence. In short these are the skills that PR people have always used in their interactions with traditional media.








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