Ragan Conference – Jen McClure

Jen McClure, Executive Director of the Society for New Communications Research, titled her presentation New Tools, New Rules, New Skills & A New Role for PR. 

Social media tools enable communicators to reach interested audience in a direct way that enables them to engage with them. Communicators can not only reach these audiences, but can listen to the audiences and become an expert resource for them.

As companies come to understand the potential of blogging, the fear of its consequences is abating.

In the “new world of pr,” we have the opportunity to deal with mainstream media analysts in a new way that will build credibility and a positive relationship. By offering genuine insight and content that flows from expertise, communicators can become a sought after and quoted source.

PR professionals must become more technologically savvy. We need to understand the technology and learn how to apply it to our clients’ purposes.

As a first step, all media releases should have an RSS feed.

Rich content (video and audio) blog posts are a cost effective alternative to traditional video news releases.

Social Media Club and Society for New Communications Research are working together on standards for a new media release format which will use RSS and tagging to present information in a way that will give the media what they want in a way they need it.

New rules:

  • The end of spin: Spin gets picked up by the blogosphere and called out as that.
  • Storytelling is replacing spin: It’s more compelling, positive and truthful.
  • We must become “Media Engineers,” because we need to be technologically able to use these tools.
  • Social media has the potential to position public relations practitioners as offering a strategic business service.

New tools are being developed and released. Looking at the future, we must stay on top of these.

To start using social media:

  • Listen and read first. Monitor what is being said. Set up Technorati search feeds. Get a feel for the conversation.
  • Then Engage. Once you are comfortable with the conversation, enter it by commenting on blogs. Be recognized as having a perspective and by being part of the community.
  • Look at what your competitors are doing.
  • Finally, you are ready to launch your own blog or podcast.
  • Remember to monitor and measure reaction to your blog.

Smart companies will proactively establish a blogging policy. They recognize that their employees will be blogging. Rather than ignore this, these companies provide guidance regarding what is proper and appropriate that will help their blogging employees to avoid problems before they occur.

And how about the lawyers? Won’t they object strongly to blogging as an uncontrollable medium? As we have more experience which tells us that the problems are rare, we should be able to make a case for this. Also, start with what’s already in place. Most companies have ethics policies and employment agreements with nondisclosure agreements. This should provide a good starting point. And involve the lawyers early in the process so that they can come to grips with it.