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#SMTPowerTalk Recap: The Human Factor in PR & Marketing

Yesterday we held the first of a monthly planned series of Power Talks taking place on the Social Media Today Page at Google+, and it rewarded us with some incredible insights. I hosted the session, which included guests Alex Coté and Steve Martin.

We intuitively all know we live in a period of constant disruption. We see it in the way we react to big brand advertising. It becomes obvious in the way marketing practices require adjustment. We notice it in the way selling is evolving. It makes itself felt in shorter and shorter cycles between product upgrades.

What we don’t usually see, however, is the reason behind all of this. We ascribe changes in big brand advertising to the tough economy and evolving marketing techniques to the constant need for change and short product cycles to bored consumers. But the underlying thread uniting all these usually eludes us because we’re too close to it.

Social media is changing everything. Consumers are now empowered, knowledgeable, mobile and vocal and every one of them matters equally. This has a level playing field in the balance of power between a company and its customer base. A single bad experience has the potential to derail an entire product line. “I am the CMO and I work at the Support Desk,” says Alex Coté, Cofounder and CMO of social contacts management app, Cloze and Circulate for companies. Alex’s point (and it is a valid one) is that the CMO (i.e. the people running the show) needs to know what’s happening on the ground, he needs to have a direct appreciation of his customers and their views and he needs to be amongst the people he leads. “We eat our own dog food, using the products we sell to manage our own lives,” says Alex who stresses that what is essentially a product that started with an algorithm, actually began by “putting people first”.

A similar sense of disruption is felt by the PR industry. Steve Martin is a Social Media Today contributor and PR expert and his very first assessment of Google+ resulted in a piece that practically wrote off the network. The comments there made Steve take another look and come back with a rebuttal to his first piece and an apology. What is key here is that just like Alex, Steve practices what he preaches: “The PR industry needs to stop being in broadcast mode and actually listen and respond.”

This is a very human reaction. As Steve pointed out during yesterday's #SMTPowerTalk Hangout-On-Air, the PR industry is, generally, reluctant to embrace social media because “we live in the age of authenticity. There is no spin any more. That’s not cut it.” The age of authenticity requires the listen and respond approach that helps establish a real dialogue and a human connection. Steve and Alex, as PR and Tech Industry insiders are at the very front of a wave the effects of which we all feel. The session was full of valuable insights and takeaways. Enjoy it.

Social Media Today Power Talk:   

We have two fantastic guests lined up for next month: marketing insiders who are both Social Media Today contributors (which is all the spoliers I am willing to give away at the moment). 

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Join The Conversation

  • David Amerland's picture
    Feb 28 Posted 3 years ago David Amerland

    Paula, thank you for your comment and I am really glad the PowerTalk session resonated. I am sorry I am only just getting to this now. It has been a really hectic month and I must learn to get my emails and social media engagement under tighter control. You are right in that communication has become faster but speed in communication and the need to react faster has always challenged us. Historically when the Telegraph became popular critics lamented the "loss of truth and spread of rumour" that it would herald as it was so much faster than the staid, studied approach of newspaper reporting. 

    All of what we see now is symptomatic. The underlying thread is connectivity. We are, for the first time in history, becoming knowledgeable, vocal and mobile as consumers. We have come out of our formerly siloed positions of the past and we can see how the values and views of each align with the others. That has created a fluidity in the market place and a shift in consumer personas (if we call it that). Companies on the other hand are moving slower. Their marketing still uses marketing personas that barely represent the audience they are supposedly targeting. At the same time we expect companies to tell us who they are, what their values are. Why we should buy from them beyond the simplicity of they have things they want to sell. 

    This makes for a radically different approach to marketing that is reflected in the changing ways SEO and social media marketing work. Everything we do in terms of social and SEO to try and understand the dynamics is very much a "blind men touching an elephapnt" approach. We each see parts of the picture. 

  • Tom Haarlander's picture
    Feb 18 Posted 3 years ago Tom Haarlander

    I love the qoute about "knowing whats happening on the ground."  Companies with CMO's like that are going to win and the companies that refuse to put their ears to the ground are going to continue to lose big time.  

  • Paula Allen's picture
    Feb 14 Posted 3 years ago Paula Allen


    In a nutshell, what would you say then is that "underlying thread" causing all of this rapid change? Isn't it just the fact that communication has become instantaneous, and therefore reactions and adjustments necessarily speed up, too? On a practical level, it's Internet technology as well as all the advanced data collection and analysis possible today. Would you agree, or is there a philosophical change at work, too?

    By the way, I agree that the speakers you chose were phenomenal, truly "at the very front of a wave the effects of which we all feel." I learned so much and enjoyed the first #SMTPowerTalk immensely! Since our readers include lots of small and startup business marketers who could benefit from Steve's and Alex's experience, I wrote up a summary for the Bruce Clay, Inc. blog (read it here, if you like:

  • David Amerland's picture
    Feb 13 Posted 3 years ago David Amerland

    Randy thank you for adding this comment here and indeed, it is exactly as simple (or as difficult) as that. Great point. 

  • Randy Milanovic's picture
    Feb 13 Posted 3 years ago Randy Milanovic

    "Be real. It's as simple as that. Authenticity is the cornerstone of social media. People are becoming very aware about who really cares about their business and their customers, and who doesn't. Show people you care and they will reward you with their loyalty." Penned by my colleague Mark Lynch. 

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