#SocialMedia and #PR: body or bling ?


During my holidays I was reading the interesting book ‘Putting the Public back in Public relations’ by Brian Solis and Deirdre Breakenridge.  Although I do not completely agree with them (maybe later more in a separate post), it gave me food for thoughts.

For arguments sake, let’s make a difference between traditional PR and Social PR.  Traditional meaning, all means of communication, except social media.  Social PR = all means of communication including social media.

The last couple of months I’ve been spammed by hundreds of  companies and/or agencies promesing me Social Media Nirvana.  They would train me and help me getting started in Social media.  Hell, they even do it for me. I just needed to sign up with them.

Let’s not be zealous about this.  I do believe in the authenticity of Social Media, but sometimes you need to outsource to keep it manageable. Marc Meyer wrote an interesting post this topic.   Now if I have to outsource, I would turn to my most trusted provider of Communication Services, my PR-agency.

Suppose I was looking for a new PR-agency…. (Not! My PR-agency is doing a wonderful job).  If I was looking for a traditional PR agency, one of the key factors would – and always will – be network.  How big is their network of journalists and analysts.  Do they have and maintain a good personal relation with these journalists or analysts ? Can they build a good personal relationship with the journalists and analysts ?  You want to make sure that any agency you’re going to work with is capable of pitching your message to the right audience (Sorry, Brian, this is one of the points where I disagree with you) and make it stand out !

For most of the agencies I know – and/or worked for – their database with press contacts is their little, precious, lump of gold that needs constant caring. That D-base is the result of years and years of networking and relationship building. This is their moneymaker.  But times are a changing….    If you want to deliver a message today, you need to get engaged in Social Media.   The most trusted source of information are no longer the institutions (read publications, magazines,..), they are people like you and me.   So a good PR-agency adapts, start looking, reaching out and building relationships with influential people in Social Media.  For most of the agencies this means starting all over from scratch… A painstaking and slow job….

My good friend @horationelson don’t believe in little black books anymore – as he tweeted me.  I disagree.  I’m convinced, as a professional communicator, that we need the little black book with relations more than ever; be them journalist or bloggers.  Brian and Deirdre actually encourage this in their book – and here I can only agree with them.

So, PR ladies and gents, what about YOUR Social Media Database ?   Does it exist already ?  Can you promise your clients/prospects the outreach they want ?   Can you pitch their message to the right audience via Social Media ?  In other words, can you put your money where your mouth is ?

Looking around, I see a lot of Social Media on the surface of PR, like a new coat or some extra bling they hang around their shoulders, but the body inside still remains “traditional”.  These are exceptional and exciting times.  We see the fundamentals of PR change right before our eyes.  PR-agencies have to fulfill a role of consultancy and  support to their clients.  I like my PR agency to have a firm body; frivolous business wise, to the point, with great knowledge and expertise and with a huge, qualitative  network.   If I need bling, I’ll turn to an ad-agency

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