Mesh Day Two: Steve Rubel

The second day of Mesh opened with an interactive session with Steve Rubel, the A list PR blogger.

Highlights:

  • “On the name of his blog, Micropersuasion, It’s no longer about the largest number of eyeballs. It’s about one person with a voice who can be influential. It’s about one voice and one person being just as persuasive as anybody.”
  • “Public relations has to mean literally what the word says, how to relate to the public. We’ve been dealing for years with the media. … Now it’s totally different. The public relations professional needs to know how to deal with people – as people.”
  • “We have to understand the motivations of the bloggers we deal with. Bloggers have a lot of different motivation. You have to think about how I can help this blogger to succeed and at the same time help me to succeed.”
  • “It’s about befriending a community. It’s about working with a community to further their goals and to further your own. … That’s the new model: Further the conversation.”
    The Edelman Trust barometer this year showed a shift in trust: “A person like myself or a peer is the most trusted person. People want to have a news means to connect and interact with each other.”
  • What’s working? “Advertising is still working. It’s adapting. … Word of Mouth has always worked. PR is working. … Marketing isn’t dying. PR isn’t dying. They’re just spreading out and adapting.”
  • On credibility: “The community will tell us who’s credible and who’s not. … The community does a wonderful job of checking what people are writing.”
  • “Who you should be talking to is a bigger question than who you should believe. There’s a tendency to go to the bigger blogs. … It’s not a numbers game. … You find a small section of an audience that’s interested in a specific thing and you develop a deep relationship with them.”
  • Who will pay for that? “I’ve seen some companies begin to set up budgets for community marketing.” Examples: Microsoft and Lego “Companies will see others do that and then ask themselves why they don’t do that.”
  • Campaigns are moving away from impressions and GRPs to be measured by “How many links did we get? How many conversations did we generate?”
  • “Companies will have to get their minds wrapped around that narrow is good. Niche vs. Reach.”
    About the Edelman Walmart controversy and the crossover of PR from media relations to blogger relations: “We learned from that. There are some things that are going to work and others that won’t. The important thing is to remain transparent and ethical.”
  • Re: MySpace and other social networking sites: “Look for where the relevant community is hanging out. … Whatever you do with social networks needs to be done on the terms of the community. … You need to do it politely and by fitting in.”
  • On Strumpette, the PR gossip blog: “I realize that I sit in the public. And with that, you’ve got to take your lumps.”
  • Pay for Play in the Blogosphere: “I’d advise you not to go there. Unless the rest of the world changes overnight, don’t do it. And the way to know what the world considers acceptable is to read blogs.”
  • On measuring success: “Touch points with influentials. How many times did we generate a conversation with people who are considered influentials. Also look at web traffic. Look at Links.”
  • Several questioners argued that character blogs have a place as an entertainment device. Rubel took an uncompromising position against character blogs.
  • “Character blogs are an example of blogs done wrong. Characters aren’t people. … It’s all fake. … Blogging is about real people, authenticity and conversation. It’s about the people who make the product, not the characters who are used in advertising the product. … If Mickey Mouse were really blogging, he’d be telling us how much he’s sweating in the costume and how long it has been since he went to the bathroom.”
  • “A character blog is a controlled message. It’s putting up a big shield, a barrier between you and the consumer. And consumers see that as the company saying, ‘I don’t want to get down and dirty and be honest with you.’”
  • Where is this going three years from now: “It’s headed toward a shift with advertising dollars coming out of unidirectional and going into two-way media. In three years there will be metrics … and new budgets for generating conversations.”
  • Advice to corporate executives: “Know where your people hang out. … Develop the infrastructure to have conversations. … Engage the audience in dialogue. … Empower the audience. What do they want to achieve and then help them do it.”