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January 22, 2007

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Ryan Holiday

You're definitely right on target.

On the one hand, bloggers are typically ignored by mainstream companies, so a genuine, professional press release gives them that credibility and affirmation they crave. On the other, they're sensitive enough to take spam as an insult.

The key here is to know your audience. Some bloggers want to feel important and get a taste of the real-world. Others want to be coddled, and will only respond to what they think are handwritten emails.

And not to be a kiss-ass, the best way to learn internet strategy is to balance the wisdom of The Long Tail and The Tipping Point.

Ryan

Piers Fawkes

You do start to get these personal emails from pr people. And they do offer things like 'want to interview the ad guy from so and so?' - which is cool, I suppose. The problem is that most of their products are uncool. I don't really care about the Chevy Superbowl Ad that one PR is puinting my way - but then again someone in a niche might do...

Tina Lang-Stuart

One other option for PR people is to also blog, vlog, podcast, etc. to

- become part of the social mediasphere, too
- so that they can bond with other bloggers, vloggers, etc.
- and know how it feels to blog and (possibly) get pinged by PR people

I think it was Shel Holtz who first said that PR can now claim their 15 minutes of fame, too. Look at Steve Rubel. Would a blogger listen to him. You bet! Is he also a PR person. Oh yeah!

So PR people can also become part of the conversation. They need to remain authentic and adhere to the rules of transparency. If they do, who says it can't work?

Todd Defren

There's also a scalability challenge, as you note (subtly) when you suggest that "people doing the cool stuff are busy." The Long Tail of PR creates an exponential amount of work for anyone (in-house or contractor) tasked with tracking, responding, reaching-out, etc. I cover this a bit here, for agency types: http://snipurl.com/18522

As one of the guys who's been promoting the Social Media Release all along, I can tell you that the SMNR is actually, in-part, a response to these Long Tail issues: it is intended to make corporate news (and multimedia content) accessible to everyone, not just journalists and elite bloggers. It also is intended to make each release a "mini-site" (permalinked, comments-enabled) where conversation and reaction can occur. This concept (and other thoughts on what the SMNR should accomplish) are covered here --- http://snipurl.com/14fp9 --- if you have a sec.

Ed Lee

I'm with ToddD - this new iteration of the news release puts the facts in the context of the larger story, picture, industry and issue. In the "Long Tail" of self publishers, people (bloggers, podcasters, anyone with a MySpace/FaceBook account) who come across the piece will be able to judge the story on its merits and with all the salient facts.

As most PRs know, when pitching a story to a reporter, context is king.

Ed
a bonus point is that it ensures the piece is of value whenever it's read; whether it's the day its issued or a year later.

John Berard

Public relations has historically been about exerting control; aided and abetted by uneven distribution channels. Technology has eliminated that advantage, but the urge to control the message remains unchanged.

SMNRs and corporate or agency bloggers are early defensive experiments. We will see what they produce. Closer to the core is your suggestion to evolve from external to internal relations. But in a world where what people will say will be heard, the task is more properly constituent relations.

In this environment where less and less can be managed, everyone with an economic self-interest in a company's products and services needs to be cultivated, rallied and encouraged.

If a company's constituents(its employees, investors, neighbors, partners, customers, representatives and more) share a point-of-view, what they share with others can have positive influence. In this way, every company, product or service is akin to a political candidate and every day in an election day.

Charlie Kondek

Great post, Chris. I think you capture exactly the situation facing PR. I have to say, I'm not a big fan of the social media press release. Our firm has had a lot of success working with bloggers. I've found the best way to communicate with them is through e-mail correspondence and a one-sheet, bulleted-list of marketing points. If they want to read the bullet points, they have them. Otherwise, they are just going to give their honest opinion of what we the PR folks are pushing and be done with it. And many bloggers do use the bullet points, which brings, I think, renewed value to the traditional press release. I have known bloggers to get something, look at it, not know what to write about it, read the one-sheet, and write their post based on that. I have rarely known bloggers that want to go listen to a podcast, MP3, check out a large web site, etc. Brevity is key. I'm sure there are some bloggers who respond well to documents like the social media release, but I think they are in the minority.

Also, I think your point about PR personnel training their clients in this is great. Difficult to arrange, though, because as you said, the client is generally very, very busy - and paying you to do the worrying about media, old and new. I long for opportunities to sit down with a client and just informally click around the blogosphere for 15 minutes to get us both on the same page.

Jim Lyle

The Old Guard/Old Order PR types are being displaced by the digital world, just as their counterparts in all areas of old media (film, newspapers, TV) are slowly being ejected.

You made these points so succinctly in your NATPE keynote address last week. The ICM VP, clearly an old order guy defending Barry Diller-vision television, showed all the same symptoms. His PR guy probably told him to say the DGA, WGA and SAG negotiations are the future world shattering events...ugh.

One question: you mentioned an online TV series invented by two 17 year olds using video game technology. What was it? Codecs?

Thanks again for a transforming speech.

Duane Brown

There are those who practise internal communication and do it well. However, teaching others how to do it is never easy, people are resitant to following certain rules and there are those who are not social and couldn't do the job, hence hiring a PR person to company to do it for you. If PR people can show those who have the chops inside the company to do it, it then only comes down to those people having or more so, making the time to reach out to the community.

Brian Solis

Hey Chris, thanks for covering this.

It’s absolutely all about expanding PR in a “way that both works in a conversational medium and doesn't demean and insult the intelligence of everyone involved.”

In the long tail, you’re right, most of them don't want to hear from a PR person at all. This is PR’s opportunity to stop acting like “PR” and become experts on the products/services they represent (which should be common sense anyway) in order to help companies engage in conversations as well. At this level, the outreach is far too great for any one person.

By sparking conversations using a well constructed, on target SMR, hopefully the first rank of bloggers can help carry the message to then help ignite conversations in the long tail. But, we all need to keep in mind that one umbrella message doesn’t work across the spectrum. It requires individual attention to specifically address the unique needs of different segments.

At the end of the day, I documented the conversations to spotlight why we all need to pay attention to the people formerly known as the audience and how to start transparent, genuine conversations.

p.s. your use of the image is exactly what I was shooting for...

John Bates

"Here's a start at a curriculum for such in-house social media coaching:

Who's influential in our space (and how we know)
What/who influences them
How to get Digged"

I would love to know what tools would you use to do this.
To work out who's influential. Technorati? ice rocket?
Who influences them. Their blogroll? their list of feeds?
Howw do you get Digged. - No idea!

Brian Solis-PR2.0

"but it strikes me that learning and teaching this culture could be a big part of PR 2.0"

That's exactly why I've been pushing this for soooooo long. Perhaps I just need to write a book! In the meantime, I'll just transform the industry one PR person at a time.

Tonja Deegant

Big companies (all sizes, really) are learning how to engage in a conversation online, and public relations is evolving there, as well. As long as you have a good story and a good product, people will hear you out -- and that goes for the PR person as well as the company itself.

"The problem is that the people doing that cool stuff are busy, which is why they pay PR people to do the outreach for them in the first place."

And those people don't always know all of the bloggers in their industry, so research in public relations comes into play. Not all PR people are savvy to bloggers, but there are some of us out there who are paying attention.

Patricia

Some of our authors are fabulous at working their personal and professional contacts to spread the word virally about their books. Most of them, however, would rather chew glass. And if they don't have the right attitude, you're not gonna get the results. Besides, our authors tend to have full-time jobs. They aren't looking to do book publicity in their free time.

Maybe I'm spoiled as a solo publicist 'cause I can focus on a niche of tech books and we don't publish so many that I can't give each one the attention and research it deserves. It does take a tremendous amount of time and focused expertise to find and target suitable bloggers. It also helps to have a genuine interest in whatever you're pitching, so that you're always reading to feed your own curiosity and coming across new targets that way.
The payoff comes when you can engage in a higher-level discussion with a passionate blogger and turn it into an ongoing relationship. It makes the PR process fun in a way it's never been before.

Richard Michie

I'm still new to PR, but I'm old to Direct Marketing where you play the numbers. The best and most satisfying are the Niche numbers, you can be personal, they want the products and they'll tell thier circle of friends, they are great sneezers. Bloggers are the same. People don;t want to feel they've been sold a message, they want to thing that you message just fits right.

If it makes them feel better and justified, then they'll spread it.

Abigail Johnson

Chris,

Most interesting. In developing my own post based on your post, I had lots of reactions -- not least of which is that PR is not about press releases it's about relationships. But, importantly, I also realized the following:

"In some ways, the long tail is taking us back to the fundamentals of human communication: used to be before media and then mass media that the only way to get the word out about anything was word of mouth. And because that was an evolutionary thing and people didn't spend a lot of time trying to hype, more often than not, the true essence of an entity just emerged in the market."

Trisha Parks

With a little hard work and tons of patience, nearly everything is possible that's also because of technology

Josh Bernoff

From a Forrester analyst and blogger writing a book on personal media:

PR people do three things for us: send press releases (mostly useless), and set up appointments between us and their clients at their request (useful), and at our request (extremely useful).

The clients -- that is, product managers, CEOs, head of marketing -- do the talking. This works (if they have anything useful to say). I have no problem with PR people doing the outreach -- it's efficient for both me and the executive.

Substitute blogger for analyst here and you get the idea. The best PR people are those that know WHO to contact for WHICH ideas. Don't waste my time. Follow this and you'll get covered.

Also helps to have a good product.

Tom Foremski

Well said. The problem lies in the terminology that the PR industry is using. It wants to use the blogging platform to distribute press releases but these are not blog posts. And the way it uses "social" is far different from what has been the accepted understanding.

Using a blogging platform is perfect for press releases because Movable Type or Wordpress has all the tools and features built in for discoverability. It has trackback and talkback, it can accumulate information over time, it is a type of free-floating document on the internet.

These days, we don't publish to a web site or sites, we publish to the internet.

Zak Kinion

Watch out for those "perky PR chicks".

That can't be good for her back or neck, laying on the floor like that.

I like the curriculum. It seems to me that this is especially relevant to startup companies releasing their Beta/early final. It seems mysterious to me as to how one gets the first several thousand users. There seems to be a great temptation to abuse sources like digg, suck up to alpha-bloggers, and secretly sell beta invites on ebay from one account to the other to create some kind of extreme demand gimmick.

Jonathan Klein

At the end of the day, the PR industry and PR professionals are no different from our colleagues in sales. When we're "pitching" a story --- via press releases (traditional or social media versions), e-mails, phone calls, etc. --- the more we understand and cater to our customer, the better our chances of sealing the deal. Mass media is still the way most consumers get their information, and traditional press releases will continue to be a tool of PR professionals for the foreseeable future. Another tool, not necessarily better or worse - just different, will be efforts to communicate with the alpha bloggers and other influentials (although the one thing everyone seems to agree with is that any sort of "mass" communications to this audience will usually result in unwanted results).

Every PR campaign is limited by its resources (time and money). Combine traditional media with the Long Tail and what will separate the best PR professionals from their peers is determining how to allocate resources. And these decisions will depend on any number of factors - type of product, time frame, goals, etc. So to talk about the "best way" to do anything is a moot point.

I think Chris's suggested curriculum will serve as a great tool for PR professionals. If they don't know this information already, they are living in the dark ages. And Chris is dead-on in suggesting that a key role of in-house PR pros will be educating employees with this info.

I do think there can be a place for PR professionals who specialize in targeting bloggers and influencers. But I think it would require an extraordinary commitment of at least a single, full-time employee. I can see it taking shape in a couple of ways:

The first way is the Microsoft model. Enable your employees who are not PR professionals with the skills, tools, permission and, most important, time to blog, discuss, debate in a public setting.

I can also see a model where the PR pro becomes a modern, communications-focused Yente --- serving as matchmaker between people within a company and the bloggers and influencers. They would need to spend an equal amount of time: 1) understanding what is happening in their company, and 2) gathering information and educating themselves on key bloggers and influencers within their world. They need to get to know employees well, talk to employees about where they get their industry information (trades, major media, specific authors, blogs, etc.) and know the players internally and externally who are interesting.

In either scenario, the biggest hurdle for most companies will be the willingness to move from PR 1.0 to PR 2.0.

PR 1.0 = Controlling the message
PR 2.0 = Embracing transparency and enabling stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, etc.) to communicate freely and honestly without fear of repercussions

nicole cruz

Social bookmarking would be of help too.

Matias Dutto

I wrote about it at global PR blog week 2004, you can read at:

http://www.globalprblogweek.com/archives/pr_our_role_of_facil.php

and GPRBW 2005:

How to design powerful conversations that open possibilities for action and colaboration with blogs

Good point for start on Social Media its launch real conversations inside the orgnizations.

nurceyiz

Good point for start on Social Media its launch real conversations inside the orgnizations.
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jeri

From a Forrester analyst and blogger writing a book on personal media:

PR people do three things for us: send press releases (mostly useless), and set up appointments between us and their clients at their request (useful), and at

Mesic

I'm still new to PR, but I'm old to Direct Marketing where you play the numbers.

Rudolf

From a Forrester analyst and blogger writing a book on personal media ok

Andrew C

Long tail i thought that was a search type in search engines? Like some one searched for "web sites" thats a short search a long tail would be "white football socks with blue strips" http://www.pagerank.me.uk

Andrew C

Long tail i thought that was a search type in search engines? Like some one searched for "web sites" thats a short search a long tail would be "white football socks with blue strips" http://www.pagerank.me.uk

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Alonzo Mourning

Good point for start on Social Media its launch real conversations inside the orgnizations.

PC

PR 1.0 = Controlling the message
PR 2.0 = Embracing transparency and enabling stakeholders (employees, customers, shareholders, etc.) to communicate freely and honestly without fear of repercussions

Frank

Thank god im no marketing guy, Social Media is, from my sight no PR....

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Tidbits

The Long Tail by Chris Anderson

Notes and sources for the book

FREE was available in all digital forms--ebook, web book, and audiobook--for free shortly after the hardcover was published on July 7th. The ebook and web book were free for a limited time and limited to certain geographic regions as determined by each national publisher; the unabridged MP3 audiobook (get zip file here) will remain free forever, available in all regions.

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