If you’ve read this blog for a while, you know that I believe that social media is a game changer for public relations.
It forces public relations people to come out from behind the curtain. No longer can we be the "unnamed source" who talks "on background."
We now are in a world in which the traditional news cycle has been replaced by a constant flow of breaking news and immediate commentary. We must start to monitor conversations well before we ever wish to enter them in order to find where people are talking, listen to what they are talking about, identify the new influencers, and understand their point of view.
And then, when we have done this, we join the conversations where they are occurring. This helps us to build credibility and trust among those who are already engaged in the issues of importance to us.
And all of that occurs before the words "corporate blog" are ever spoken.
Social media demands transparency and authenticity. That means that we must be front and centre as individuals when we are playing the role of spokesperson for our organization. If you want an example of what I’m talking about, take a look at RichardatDell . Richard Binhammer has been one of Dell’s most high profile people in the blogosphere since mid-2006. He is part of the conversation through his personal blog , direct outreach to bloggers , Twitter and real world presentations . And he does this with transparency and authenticity. The corporate spokesperson becomes a real person – and our trust increases because of this.
And that’s the template for the new PR practitioner.
And I’m not alone in my view. It was encouraging to read other industry leaders underline the importance of social media during a recent roundtable discussion organized by PR Week (April 14, 2008, p.12). A couple of statements that caught my attention:
"Traditional PR is getting completely redefined. I won’t say it’s dying, but I think people need to get with what’s on the cutting edge, in terms of building communities and starting conversations – as opposed to that traditional one-way dialogue." Karen Kahn, Vice President, Global Communications, Sun Microsystems.
"The bigger evolution in our job is not learning about social media and digital. It’s about changing from a [text] storyteller to a visual storyteller. I think as PR pros we always related to the written word, and these new Web 2.0 applications relate to being more visual…" Luca Penati, Managing Director of the global tech practice, Ogilvy PR.
Things to think about when you’re planning your own career and growth path.
UPDATE: Shel Israel posted this video interview with Richard Binhammer on Global Neighbourhoods TV shortly after I posted. It’s worth looking at for an illustration of the "up front" PR person. There’s very little (if any) "corporate speak" on Richard’s side. Just a PR person speaking in plain language about what he believes about his company.