The new PR?

John Bell kicked off the PR track at NewComm Forum with a session on Creating a complete corporate social media strategy.

What’s changing in our lives? The explosive growth of social media. That’s obvious. But more importantly, we expect to be heard.

Social media competes for our attention and trust with traditional media. And it often wins.

We’re in a new age in which the public trusts less in traditional media. Marketers must listen as much as they talk. Better things will happen through openness and transparency. The consumer is in charge. And we need to put out information that will enable the consumer to make up her own mind.

This is the future of public relations. Conversation. Search. Microcasting. Syndication. Online media. Social networks. Public relations practitioners should include all of these in their corporate strategies.

Digital influence is an organzied way of planning and deploying programs in this new world. It is not about manipulation, nor about delivering messages. It is about openly and honestly engaging with users and participating in the conversation.

Public relations programs must focus on Search results. The public uses search to find things and navigate the Web. So, we must be concerned with the content about our clients that the Search engines will generate. We should generate content that will meet consumer interests. And we should be concerned about whether this content is optimized for search engines.

Bell and his team have developed a very organized approach to developing social media strategies. Unfortunately, I missed a good portion of it. When I get my DVD drive (which I left in my room), I’ll upload his slides which were distributed on a conference CD so that you can link to them.

UPDATE: Download John Bell’s presentation here.