Things I'd like to discuss on the For Immediate Release podcast

FIRShel Holtz has asked me to co-host the For Immediate Release podcast with him tomorrow. Regular co-host Neville Hobson is busy attending Twestival in the U.K. and Shel needs a foil for the day. And that’s me.

Shel has asked me to suggest some topics for discussion on the episode. Here are a few ideas I’ve developed. What do you think of them?

One area I’d like to highlight in the discussion is Canada’s experience of being close neighbours with the United States and the opportunities and challenges that social media present for us to see ourselves while being part of the larger global community. One aspect of this is what I call the “Content Creation Gap.”

What do I mean by a content creation gap? Well simply put, the Forrester Social Technographics data shows that U.S. Internet users are more likely to engage in active social media content creation – authoring, critiquing and collecting – than are Canadians.

To understand the potential significance of this, consider that search engine algorithms already reward the most popular links. A U.S. population ten times Canada’s population is more likley to click on U.S.-relevant pages, driving them higher on future search results for the same term.than links relevant to other countries. Add to this that we are less likely than Americans to produce as much content on a per capital basis and it seems to me, there is potential for it to become harder for us to see ourselves reflected in the increasing flow of social media content.

Another aspect of living close to the U.S. and being so similar to Americans is the profound impact it has on the composition of our business community. As Chair of the Canadian Council of Public Relations Firms, I see that Canadian public relations firms are most directly affected by the consolidation of accounts into global relationships, most often anchored in the United States. This is a different approach to a topic I’ve heard addressed at both this year’s PRSA Counselors Academy conference and the IABC World Conference – how the (mostly-U.S.-based) PR industry can ensure that its strategies and programs are sensitive to the unique cultures and contexts of every country in which they are rolled out.

Another topic I’d like to discuss would be the importance of public relations practitioners grounding their approach to social media in sociology and anthropology as well as technology. Yes, the technology is important. But more important than the shiny new objects is what people want to do with them and how they interact and form communities of interest. This continues to be public relations strong suit, if we keep our focus on it.

What do you think of these topics? Are there related topics that I should add?

Are there other things you’d like me to discuss?

'Twas the night before the Big Pitch

Christmas in September

Christmas in September

All the plans have been hatched. The presentations prepared. The rehearsals held.

Now all we have to do is get through one more sleep to see if we’ve been very, very good or …

One of the realities of a consultant’s life is the new business pitch.

We have a really big one coming up tomorrow morning – at 8AM.

I know that many agency folk don’t like being asked for creative as part of the pitch process. I take a different approach. As long as the potential client restricts the pitch to a short list of agencies they have pre-screened, I’m keen for my team to give it our very best. How else can the potential client get a sense of our creativity and how we think? How else can they get a good sense of whether we’ll be a match for them?

As I see it, the creative pitch ensures that clients know what they are getting. In Thornley Fallis’ case, a team with a definite perspective on best practices and the standards that are established by the transparency that social media has thrust upon every organization. We’re prepared to work hard, but we won’t compromise our principles. And we get a chance to convey this when we present to potential clients.

This approach means that Thornley Fallis isn’t the right agency for every client. But for those who want advisors who will tell truth regardless of whether it’s comfortable or convenient, we fit right in.

So, tomorrow’s a big pitch day. And we really want a chance to work with this client. We’ve done everything we possibly could to prepare. So, I’m happy.

This is the way I like to feel the night before a high stakes competition. Whether we win or lose, we’ve done everything we could to prepare.