Bulldog Reporter, Advanced PR Forum, Olympic Collection, Los Angeles
It's amazing how much difference a few months makes.
This past Friday in Los Angeles, I participated in a panel discussing the "Brave New World of Social Media," along with Jen McClure of the Society of New Communications Research and Eric Schwartzman of iPressroom.
This is the second time in the past six months that I discussed Social Media at a Bulldog Reporter event, each with a radically different outcome. You can read about my last experience here.
The last time I spoke in San Francisco, I found that most of the audience was completely unaware of tagging, flickr, Technorati, basic HTML, and the term social media in general.
Whereas in Los Angeles, the crowd - as a whole - was much more familiar with these tools simply because over time, they have been subjected to them as consumers, not so much as producers.
Some blog. More read them and also listen to podcasts. Several participate in social networks. Most have posted comments. Over half of the audience use Wikis. Many have used HTML limited to the confines of beautifying their Craigslist ads. While still basic, it served as a much more balanced foundation of where to start the discussion.
In fact, I had recommended to Bulldog that they create a breakout conference in the near future, which basically is a Social Media bootcamp to help communications professionals learn without publicly humiliating themselves or the companies they represent.
While the Los Angeles group was ready to engage, there was still much ground to cover - much more than we could possibly squeeze into an hour. However, their questions were many, and all related to how to participate, ethics of participation, and how to convince their bosses and clients to let them engage on behalf of their brands.
Interesting discussion indeed, and it could have continued if it wasn't cut by the lunch bell. (Just a side note here, if anyone participated in this conference and you still have questions, please email me here.
My charter was to help explain Social Media as it pertains to the democratization of information and the tools that help people engage in conversations.
NOTE: I was not there to help people jump in and make a mockery out of, or exploit, the dynamic of Social Media.
I am one of the very few ambassadors who represent social media as a marketing professional, but also wish to protect it from the wide-eyed, motivated gold diggers looking to cash in.
In my presentation, I let PR people know that they are not invited to the party, because the industry thinks that they're too stupid to participate. And, with very good reason. Yes, PR, as a whole, is too stupid to engage at this level, and more importantly, at any level that requires believable engagement.
Afterall we are spin doctors. We don't get it. We can't write. We like adjectives. We are simply spammers of information and not at all able to speak to influencers (or the people formerly known as the audience) because we're too dumb to understand what we're talking about and why it's important. And, we try to always control the message.
All this because as an industry, we have not done a good job of PR for PR.
I was there to encourage the select few to participate without an agenda to help change this dreadful perception. I asked them to either engage as a person with passions, hobbies, and ideas and when ready, participate at a professional level because they are experts with valid ideas, questions, and perspective to contribute to their field.
Both activities will provide participants with the experience necessary to understand the infrastructure of social media and the respect required to remain in the dialogue. And more importantly, if you don't have the expertise to contribute from a professional standpoint then don't bother. And I'm not talking about PR, I'm speaking with reference to your understanding of the product and market related to the company you represent.
Either change professions or go back and learn so that you can not only participate in the social world of media, but also provide a more valuable and effective set of services and strategies to your company.
This is all about making professionals more successful in traditional public relations and in the brave new world of Social Media. They are both necessary and distinct in the strategies and tactics that drive each towards success.
At the end of the day, this is all about shifting from monologue to dialogue, and this powerful shift will take no prisoners but will yield many casualties.
This is about people, on both sides of the conversation - not audiences.
- Do not market to audiences or targets, engage in conversations
- Know what the hell you're talking about
- Be a resource, not a sales person
- Become part of the community
- Respect the communities you engage in and they will respect you
To view my presentation from the event, click "download" below or email for a copy.
Resources: Social Media Club, Social Media Collective, Society of New Communications Research
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