Social Media Takes Center Stage – Advanced PR Forum in Los Angeles

Bulldog Advanced PR 3/2/07 - Artistic
Bulldog Reporter, Advanced PR Forum, Olympic Collection, Los Angeles

It’s amazing how much difference a few months makes.

This past Friday in Los Angeles, I participated in a panel discussing the “Brave New World of Social Media,” along with Jen McClure of the Society of New Communications Research and Eric Schwartzman of iPressroom.

This is the second time in the past six months that I discussed Social Media at a Bulldog Reporter event, each with a radically different outcome. You can read about my last experience here.

The last time I spoke in San Francisco, I found that most of the audience was completely unaware of tagging, flickr, Technorati, basic HTML, and the term social media in general.

Whereas in Los Angeles, the crowd – as a whole – was much more familiar with these tools simply because over time, they have been subjected to them as consumers, not so much as producers.

Some blog. More read them and also listen to podcasts. Several participate in social networks. Most have posted comments. Over half of the audience use Wikis. Many have used HTML limited to the confines of beautifying their Craigslist ads. While still basic, it served as a much more balanced foundation of where to start the discussion.

In fact, I had recommended to Bulldog that they create a breakout conference in the near future, which basically is a Social Media bootcamp to help communications professionals learn without publicly humiliating themselves or the companies they represent.

While the Los Angeles group was ready to engage, there was still much ground to cover – much more than we could possibly squeeze into an hour. However, their questions were many, and all related to how to participate, ethics of participation, and how to convince their bosses and clients to let them engage on behalf of their brands.

Interesting discussion indeed, and it could have continued if it wasn’t cut by the lunch bell. (Just a side note here, if anyone participated in this conference and you still have questions, please email me here.

My charter was to help explain Social Media as it pertains to the democratization of information and the tools that help people engage in conversations.

NOTE: I was not there to help people jump in and make a mockery out of, or exploit, the dynamic of Social Media.

I am one of the very few ambassadors who represent social media as a marketing professional, but also wish to protect it from the wide-eyed, motivated gold diggers looking to cash in.

In my presentation, I let PR people know that they are not invited to the party, because the industry thinks that they’re too stupid to participate. And, with very good reason. Yes, PR, as a whole, is too stupid to engage at this level, and more importantly, at any level that requires believable engagement.

Afterall we are spin doctors. We don’t get it. We can’t write. We like adjectives. We are simply spammers of information and not at all able to speak to influencers (or the people formerly known as the audience) because we’re too dumb to understand what we’re talking about and why it’s important. And, we try to always control the message.

All this because as an industry, we have not done a good job of PR for PR.

I was there to encourage the select few to participate without an agenda to help change this dreadful perception. I asked them to either engage as a person with passions, hobbies, and ideas and when ready, participate at a professional level because they are experts with valid ideas, questions, and perspective to contribute to their field.

Both activities will provide participants with the experience necessary to understand the infrastructure of social media and the respect required to remain in the dialogue. And more importantly, if you don’t have the expertise to contribute from a professional standpoint then don’t bother. And I’m not talking about PR, I’m speaking with reference to your understanding of the product and market related to the company you represent.

Either change professions or go back and learn so that you can not only participate in the social world of media, but also provide a more valuable and effective set of services and strategies to your company.

This is all about making professionals more successful in traditional public relations and in the brave new world of Social Media. They are both necessary and distinct in the strategies and tactics that drive each towards success.

At the end of the day, this is all about shifting from monologue to dialogue, and this powerful shift will take no prisoners but will yield many casualties.

This is about people, on both sides of the conversation – not audiences.

  • Do not market to audiences or targets, engage in conversations
  • Read
  • Know what the hell you’re talking about
  • Participate
  • Contribute
  • Be a resource, not a sales person
  • Become part of the community
  • Listen
  • Learn
  • Respect the communities you engage in and they will respect you

Afterall, transparent participation is one form of marketing – if it’s truly genuine. Direct PR and marketing will only continue to be shut out from the conversation Take the time to listen and learn in order to participate because only you can determine whether you rise or fall in this new age of communications.

To view my presentation from the event, click “download” below or email for a copy.

Download

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Resources: Social Media Club, Social Media Collective, Society of New Communications Research

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  • philgomes

    Good to finally meet you!

  • GregPC

    Good post. I’ve been attending various social media events and whatnot here in the Boston-area and have seen that same evolution taking place. But like you I’ve also seen a certain ham-handedness that isn’t going to help the perception of PR.

  • Julie

    Phenomenal PPT presentation. Very clear, great tutorial for those of us on the agency side, not to mention on the client side. Wish I could have heard the presentation in person.

  • Barbara Rozgonyi

    Thanks for recapping your presentation on this post – and for linking to the slides. You make some simple, yet powerful points like markets are conversations – participation is marketing.
    Barbara Rozgonyi

  • Brian Solis

    Phil, great to meet you finally too!

    Greg, yes you’re right. I think it was a post from the PRSA Boston blog that sparked the PR2.0 is not Web 2.0 post. But I can’t remember at the moment.

    Julie, thank you very much. The Q&A after the preso was even more informative and interesting.

    Barbara, I appreciate it. Thank you!

  • Shane Quigley

    Why can’t the rest of the PR industry listen to you. Great comments and insight. Do you think Social Media is something PR agencies should pick up by themselves or should the SEO community be involved?

    I would be grateful to hear your views on my article here: PR is dead, long live SEO!

  • Brian Solis

    Shane, amen! The industry seems to be covering their ears chanting, “la la la la la.”

    They don’t want to hear it, yet the want to believe that they old ways are fine as is.

    It’s clear to me that Social Media will force a new breed of marketing professionals that will engage with PR and SEO.

    I’m only calling all of this out to help the industry wake up – or at the very least, inspire the promising stars to rise up and succeed on their own.

    You’re article right on. Most companies think that because their releases show up in Google or Yahoo, that their SEO is effective. But it’s not about finding your company online when you search by company name, it’s about showing up at the top of the list when searching other key words.

    I honestly believe that most PR doesn’t truly understand SEO and most SEO’ers don’t understand markets, pain points, and benefits in order to accurately construct a compelling press release (but then again, most PR pros don’t either.) Perhaps the two should work together…

ABOUT ME

Brian Solis is a digital analyst, anthropologist, and also a futurist. In his work at Altimeter Group, Solis studies the effects of disruptive technology on business and society. He is an avid keynote speaker and award-winning author who is globally recognized as one of the most prominent thought leaders in digital transformation.

His most recent book, What's the Future of Business: Changing the Way Businesses Create Experiences (WTF), explores the landscape of connected consumerism and how business and customer relationships unfold in four distinct moments of truth. His previous book, The End of Business as Usual, explores the emergence of Generation-C, a new generation of customers and employees and how businesses must adapt to reach them. In 2009, Solis released Engage, which is regarded as the industry reference guide for businesses to market, sell and service in the social web.

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