Here are all of the posts tagged ‘PR’.
In terms of stepping-up to the plate and tackling social media head-on, it’s fair to say, the PR industry has broadly lagged behind the wider digital, marketing and advertising sectors. Robin, our MD, sits on the IAB‘s social media council which has been in place for almost two years, and even the old-school IPA launched IPA Social six months ago.
The PR industry’s tardyness in waking up to social media is something Robin talked about last year and I addressed again my inaugural blog post when I joined We Are Social.
So I’m really pleased to be able to say that it seems the alarm clock has gone off for the industry, with its leading trade body, the Chartered Institute of Public Relations (CIPR), setting up an Advisory Panel to deal with social media and it’s impact on the PR industry.
I’m even more pleased to be able to say I’ve been asked to sit on the panel, along with a host of other luminaries, including:
- Daljit Bhurji, MD, Diffusion (@Daljit_Bhurji)
- Mark Borkowski, MD, Borkowski (@MarkBorkowski)
- Rob Brown, MD, Staniforth (@robbrown)
- Stuart Bruce, MD, Wolfstar (@stuartbruce)
- Dominic Burch, head of corporate comms, Asda (@dom_asdaPR)
- Gemma Griffiths, client director, Racepoint (@GemGriff)
- Katy Howell, MD, Immediate Future (@katyhowell)
- Marshall Manson, director of digital strategy, Edelman (@marshallmanson)
- Becky McMichael, head of corporate & technology, Ruder Finn (@bmcmichael)
- Danny Rogers, editor, PRWeek (@dannyrogers2001)
- Julio Romo, PR and communications consultant, Twofourseven (@twofourseven)
- Philip Sheldrake, partner, Influence Crowd (@sheldrake)
- Stephen Waddington, MD, Speed Communications (@wadds)
- Robin Wilson, director digital PR & social media, McCann Erickson (@robin1966)
I think it’s fair to say that the CIPR has gathered together some of the PR industry’s leading thinkers on social media and I definitely look forward to working with friends, ex-colleagues and new contacts to help address and shape the Institute’s policy guidance, education and training.
While the announcement has been largely well-received on Twitter a few leading PR bloggers have offered up more contextual opinions, with one PR academic suggesting that while overall the panel is a step in the right direction, ultimately it’s, “too little, and… rather too late”. Industry trade magazine, PR Week, has also covered the announcement.
As someone that has been pushing the CIPR towards greater engagement with online and social media since 2006, I say, better late than never.
When it comes to tackling some of the wider challenges social media has brought to the industry, such as the oft-debated issue of social media measurement or of ethical best practice, we’re looking forward to sharing our specialist expertise.
So this week’s edition of PR Week has hit desks and if you haven’t read it yet then you will have missed the news that I’ve joined We Are Social. The news is awesome for a couple of reasons, both personal and professional.
First the professional: I’ve been watching We Are Social grow over the past year and a bit and have been impressed by both the clients they’re working with and the work they’re doing. Seriously. Now I’m on the inside I continue to be blown away by the briefs that come through the door and the work that goes out.
That may sound overly sycophantic but it’s a genuine response. The work that’s being planned and delivered at We Are Social is the kind that you don’t believe exists working on the PR agency side. Clearly brands and organisations want to understand social media and its impact on their reputation. But it seems they aren’t turning to their PR agency to deliver this work, instead seeking out a team of people that live and breathe social media every day. Which on reflection, is no surprise
On a personal level I’m really happy to be planning and delivering real, juicy, smart, social media campaigns, rather than bolting on digital tactics which was often the case when working to a PR brief.
Add to that the fact that I’m tasked with growing the public sector, NGO and not-for-profit work that We Are Social does means I’m working with sectors with which I have a deep personal affinity (in case you aren’t overly familiar with my LinkedIn profile I started out in PR working for NGOs). Moreover, social media comes to the fore when empowering organisations and individuals to deliver issues-based campaigns and citizen engagement.
So that’s the news. I’ve joined We Are Social. I’m excited. You can see it in my tweets. I’m going to Twestival. I’ve started blogging again. I am, as Manuel Castells might say, back in the space of flows.
In a world where media is global, social, ubiquitous and cheap. In a world of media where the former audience are now increasingly full participants. In that world, media is less and less often about crafting a single message to be consumed by individuals and is more and more often a way of creating an environment for convening and supporting groups. And the choice we face, and I mean anybody who has a message they want to have heard anywhere in the world, isn’t whether that’s the media environment we want to operate in – that’s the media environment we’ve got. The question we all face now is how do we make the best use of this medium, even though it means changing the way we’ve always done it.
Photo by Bash
Vero herself led an open discussion on “PR agencies want your soul”. Most of us there were on both sides at once – being bloggers ourselves while also working with bloggers on behalf of our clients. Some of the stories that came out were amusing and horrifying at the same time – PRs using Facebook to stalk bloggers they wanted to get in touch with – and some good discussion from what to do if you’re a blogger who received a bad pitch; do you ignore, name & shame in public, or email back and tell them how to do it right? Kerry Gaffney covers it in a lot more detail.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a social media gathering if there wasn’t a lot of discussion of Twitter. Kai Turner‘s talk on the genesis of Smack My Tweet Up, the anonymous Twitter Valentine-sending app designed as a bit of fun, was an eye opener. It took only 48 hours from idea to going live, and got several thousand hits by word of mouth alone. I liked both the idea and the turnaround, showing how easy it is to develop quick, fun and useful apps in social media; just like how conversations can be spontaneous, bright ideas can be turned into functioning social applications in the blink of an eye.
One good question asked was how Smack My Tweet Up prevented misuse (but as it was taken in good faith they only had one complaint, this wasn’t a major issue) – and this was a theme that wove throughout the entire day. Perhaps as a sign of the way the social media space has matured there was no worrying or fretting about the lack of control over social media, but a lot of positive discussion on how to make the most of the debate and conversation out there.
Joanna Geary and Lucia Adams discussed the ethics and judgement involved in moderating a liveblog, as they did for The Times during the G20 summit, giving us an insight into how moderation is as every bit an art form as creating content. When there is more than one user submission every second, what do you include and what do you filter to prevent overloading your readers with information? Managing criticism and dissent on your own site while also representing a diversity of views fairly is hard enough when you have time to think about it, let alone in real-time. It also serves a reminder that moderators and community managers are human, not robots, and their judgements need to be treated in that context.
Getting a feel for what a community’s needs are is important, as Lauren Fisher pointed out in a cerebral discussion of Habermas’ public sphere and how it applies to social media. We discussed what happens when those in power or the mainstream media act against the norms of the social media sphere and the backlashes that can result (such as the Brian Cowen nude portraits controversy) and whether social media is a representative reflection of the public sphere in wider society (Answer: probably, and it’s gettting better as social media moves beyond early adopters).
Finally, there was a talk & session on trolls and griefing given by none other than myself, on what happens when someone turns up to the party with the intent of causing mayhem, and how we need to plan and adapt in future.
It was a great afternoon – although some have lamented the low attendance rate and the fact not everyone seemed keen to present (Kat Neville and Michael Litman provide arguments for each side, and Neil Crosby has a good suggestion on microtalks). The fact that only 56% of people who bought tickets turned up is a real shame, but even though not every slot was filled with a speaker, I have to say I was spoilt for choice for a lot of events. I missed some things I regret not seeing, including James Whatley on being the voice of a brand and keeping human, and the guys behind Social Innovation Camp talking about their work.
In short, the day rocked. For more SMC stuff be sure to check out the #smclondon tag on Flickr, Twitter, Qik and Slideshare. Big thanks go to Vero and all the volunteers who helped make it such an engaging and informative day and I look forward to the next one!
Photo: Phil Sheard
Last Tuesday NMK ran a debate entitled “What Happens to Online PR” – it was packed full of the great and good of ‘Online PR’ and, aside from the debate, it was a great to have a chance to catch-up with everyone.
The evening has already been covered in depth by Roger Warner, Jed Hallam, Jo-Rosie Haffenden, Drew Benvie, Sarah Beavis, Lloyd Gofton and the organiser Ian Delaney, but the point I made in my intervention on the night seems to have been lost.
Much to my delight, the PR industry seems to be taking a very myopic view of the current state of play (as evidenced by PR Week’s coverage of the event). It fails to realise that there is a great game afoot, one that involves all of the advertising and marketing industry, that will be merciless on those that fail to adapt.
Above the line, digital, PR, direct marketing and even media agencies are converging towards the same place, and due to the rise of digital, the battle has been raging for a few years now. Up until recently, the PR industry has been relatively immune from its effects. This will not continue. Agencies of all colours are realising what the future will bring, and are making plans to adapt.
However, just as over the last ten years digital agencies stole a march on above the line agencies by building bigger, better and more motivated specialist teams, thereby innovating faster and developing a critical mass of best practise that accelerated the gap between them and their offline competitors, so conversation agencies will do the same to PR agencies (and, I have to say, to the digital and other agencies also trying to catch-up).
To use ourselves as an example, who else has a team of twelve entirely focused on innovative, creative and effective social media marketing and communications? Each day and each new hire widens the gap between us and those in pursuit.
To quote from Roger Warner’s write-up of the evening:
The people who will write the book are those who make the first convincing moves and are happy to invest and invent. We’ll be delivering best practises in beta mode whilst Big PR is watching on the sidelines.
Update: PR Week finally wakes up:
PR agencies are facing up to a growing threat from the advertising sector after the car giant this week picked MindShare to handle [...] digital PR and social media strategy.
‘The advertising industry is focusing its guns on PR budget, so our industry is def-initely at a crossroads,’ said Katy Howell, MD at Immediate Future. ‘We must step up, educate our clients and widen our reach to include marketing and digital departments.
‘If we do not, there is every likelihood that the PR industry will not exist in five years. We will become a commodity within the bigger, more powerful, media and advertising organisations.’
Update 2: Brian Solis has some further thoughts:
By now, many organizations realize that the success of their brands will be determined online. Yet other than this almost universal consensus, little else about digital has been decided. Its scope is constantly expanding and its growth potential has every marketing discipline jumping to adopt some part of digital as its own turf. “There is all kinds of competition popping up [for digital] and it’s putting a squeeze on communications professionals,” says Brian Solis, founder and president of FutureWorks, a digital PR agency. PR, ad, and direct marketing agencies are all looking to carve a niche in digital as their conventional channels become increasingly irrelevant. With traditional ad revenues decreasing in value and news outlets shuttering, the most viable avenue for future revenue is digital. But the race to capitalize on digital has pitted many of these agencies against each other, especially as the boundaries between marketing, advertising, and PR blur online.
Digital advertising and social media are quickly converging and, while PR is reaping the rewards inside this new space, how long will it be before others muscle in? Already, Beattie McGuinness Bungay, DDB and VCCP are among UK agencies fine-tuning PR and social media offerings and others will quickly follow.
When someone demands to know how we are going to replace newspapers, they are really demanding to be told that we are not living through a revolution. They are demanding to be told that old systems won’t break before new systems are in place. They are demanding to be told that ancient social bargains aren’t in peril, that core institutions will be spared, that new methods of spreading information will improve previous practice rather than upending it. They are demanding to be lied to.
The quote above is from Clay Shirky’s recent essay “Newspapers and Thinking the Unthinkable”, which takes an uncompromising look at the future of newspapers and journalism. With things getting to crisis point for newspapers in the US and in the UK, Dirk Singer has helpfully put together a timely report on the future of print and what it means for brands:
Dirk’s view is an accurate reflection of the current reality (even if obviously pitched from on offline PR perspective), especially on slide 21 where he says:
Online exposure is not second best
online outperforms print on reach and credibility
However, as Clay postulates, newspapers as we currently understand them may not exist on or offline in just a few years from now. And by then, social media will be even more pervasive.
The smart brands are preparing themselves for that future by learning about and experimenting in social media right here in the present.
Following on from Mark Cridge’s comments in New Media Age last week, Joseph Jaffe has an inspired rant in this week’s Adweek:
Exactly where and when did the digital space earn the stripes and credentials to tackle the high roads of authenticity, transparency or peer-to-peer collaboration (just to name a few of conversational marketing’s core tenets)?
The PR business is really no better and no worse than the digital one when it comes to social credentials. With its claim of being champions of “earned media,” it tacked the word “relations” onto blogger, lumped it together with “media relations” and “journalist relations,” and somehow went unchallenged.
Whereas the digital space has very little claim to the “physical” world and hasn’t proven itself in the virtual space, the PR industry resides more comfortably in the physical world, with a superficial grasp of the digital space and an anemic understanding of the virtual one.
I’ve seen client after client duped into charging a digital or PR agency with-arguably-the most transformational opportunity we’ve been given in our professional lifetimes and the result is almost always a shambolic disappointment. From Sony or Wal-Mart’s fake blogs to the recent Skittles.com mess, the culprits are almost always digital or PR agencies.
There’s an acute and fundamental flaw in equating “social” with “digital” or “social” with “earned media.”
So what’s the solution?
If you’re reading this, you already know the answer…
Update: In response to the comments below, the title of this post is taken straight from the title of Joseph’s article on Adweek, and it’s pretty clear he’s not questioning the ownership of social media as a whole, but rather what sort of agency is best placed to help brands deal with it.
As reported by today’s Guardian, amidst the grim news from Group M that the UK’s total advertising spend is set to fall by nearly 6% in 2009, there are some figures that stand out.
Digital spending is likely to grow by 4% and public relations by 2%. Not massive growth, but a lot better than the 9% decrease predicted for traditional media spending.
This is some consolation for those of us that believe that social media is causing a fundamental change in the way that companies communicate with their customers and prospects, as it seems that the people who hold the budgets think the same, and despite the economic climate are juggling their budgets to reflect it.