PR Roundtable Discussion: The Challenge of Social Media

Last week was a tough week for the public relations community dealing with social media. I even contributed a bit to the fuss, though independently of Chris Anderson or anyone else. It’s really quite easy to flame people and make bold statements like, “PR people, You’re blocked“. It’s quite another to try to facilitate healthy dialog and discussion to try to help the PR industry acclimate to a social media environment and getting bloggers to understand that the buck doesn’t end with us! In fact, both the PR community and the social media community need each other for different reasons.

I decided it would be useful to try to pull together some respected voices on both sides of the game and have a bit of a “roundtable” of discussion. We’ve discussed five questions, and I’ll be sharing their responses to these questions over the next week. I hope you find something useful in the discussion here. If you have anything to contribute, you’re welcome to do so in comments or on your own blog. I usually turn off trackbacks, but for these entries I will turn them on so you can join in the discussion any way you want.

But first, the participants.

Doug Haslam is a public relations professional with Topaz Partners, specializing in technology clients in the Web 2.0, mobile, storage and networking industries. Doug comes to public relations after a decade in broadcast journalism, and has spent his years with Topaz putting to practice his observations on how new media affect branding, reputation and communications.

Marshall Kirkpatrick lives in Portland, Oregon, has written for some of the top blogs on the internet and consults for companies who want to rock online. For more info see marshallk.com

Cathryn Hrudicka started her original company, Cathryn Hrudicka & Associates, working primarily in public relations, marketing, record promotion, arts management and event production in the entertainment industry. She has also worked on projects for technology and other Fortune 500 companies, universities, museums, major nonprofit agencies, trade associations, entrepreneurs, artists, performers and authors. She was recently quoted in Fast Company by Robert Scoble, about her use of social media, including to brand her new company branch, Creative Sage™, offering creative thinking and innovation training and consulting. She is also an executive coach and management consultant, a blogger, journalist, editor and media producer. She is on the planning committee for the San Francisco Social Media Club. See http://www.CreativeSage.com and http://www.CathrynHrudicka.com.

Marc Orchant is an independent consultant working with a number companies in the areas of new media integration, market and community development, and enhancing personal and team productivity. He is the Technology Editor for blognation USA, part of a global network of blogs focusing on emerging trends in technology and mobility. Prior to blognation, Marc wrote blogs on the Weblogs, Inc. and ZDNet networks. He was named a Microsoft MVP (Windows ““ Tablet PC) in 2006 and 2007. Earlier this year, Marc wrote The Unofficial Guide to Microsoft Outlook 2007 for Wiley and Sons, which was published in April 2007.

Brian Solis is Principal of FutureWorks, a PR and Social Media agency in Silicon Valley that “gets it.” Solis also runs the PR2.0 blog. Solis is co-founder of the Social Media Club, is an original member of the Media 2.0 Workgroup, and also is a contributor to the Social Media Collective.

What do you think the biggest challenge is for the Public Relations industry to fully embrace social media?

Marc OrchantMarc Orchant: Pinning down the single biggest challenge is a tough question to answer but I think it essentially comes down to redesigning a game plan that better addresses the scope and scale of the social net compared to the relatively smaller field of play in the mainstream media world. The fact is that there are millions of blogs, discussion forums, wikis, and other conversation spaces available to PR practitioners if they know where to look. This demands a bit of “long tail” thinking on their part and I’m not convinced, based on my personal experience, that they have, as an industry, figured out how to do this well.

Pitches that are broadcast to all possible outlets rarely achieve the desired effects. Most credible bloggers who have established a solid readership have done so not by not cutting and pasting press releases but by offering analysis and opinion. So research needs to be done to craft effective pitches that speak to a blogger and, by extension, to their readers.

The best way to ensure that a client’s story is told well is to get into a 1:1 conversation with the top tier bloggers in a particular product space. But setting up briefings with bloggers is difficult because of scheduling difficulties and the payoff is often difficult to measure because the traffic benefit might not be immediate.

Doug HaslamDoug Haslam: The biggest challenge for PR at this stage is to stop treating social media as an orphan, distinct from the “traditional” media. While pitching blogs may be different from pitching, say, a business weekly, so too is there a difference between pitching one blog vs. another blog, or one weekly vs. another. The larger point is that all pitches need to be properly targeted, and individualized for the recipient. So, those who would treat blogger relations as a separate effort form other media relations are, in my opinion, making a mistake.

This leads back to all the talk about “relationships” and conversations.” This isn’t something new, but the need to pitch bloggers and other social media has brought us back– or should bring us back– from the brink of “spam pitch” hell.

Brian SolisBrian Solis: What if we asked the question this way, “Should the PR industry participate in Social Media at all?” There are several pundits who have flatly said that “PR is too stupid to participate in Social Media” and therefore shouldn’t have a seat at the new marketing table.

After all, Social Media is about people.

In the eyes of many PR is associated with used car and snake oil salesmen or far worse, lazy flacks that have no clue what they’re talking about.

Yes, it’s true many PR people simply don’t or won’t ever get it. The other thing is that, as in any industry, there are also opportunists in PR who simply see Social Media as a new golden ticket and in turn, are selling a new portfolio of services without having a clue as to what Social Media really is and how it works.

The challenge for PR in Social Media isn’t any different than the challenge that already exists for them in traditional PR. For far too long PR has taken comfort in blasting information to the masses in the hopes that something would stick. Until recently, the industry really hasn’t seriously considered requiring people to learn about what it is they represent, why it matters and to whom, how it’s different than anything else out there, where customers go for information, and how it benefits the customers they’re ultimately trying to reach.

The lack of presence or the drive to inject these questions into the PR process and also take the time to answer them genuinely, without marketing hype, is perhaps the greatest inhibitor of PR’s legitimate entrance into Social Media.

Marshall KirkpatrickMarshall Kirkpatrick: For many people the biggest challenge will be getting over their tendency to have only two, often overlapping, modes of communication: being condescending and kissing ass. Engagement with social media, like many things in this world, is all about adding value.

In order to add value, PR people should get in touch with their own personal strengths. Are you particularly good at coming up with helpful metaphors or translating between two different people in a conversation? If so, save me from CEO hot-air. Are you particularly fast at what you do and consistently in the know about breaking news, early? If so, help me be early in the news cycle and get your client’s perspective in before the most competitive writers consider
the topic old news. Can you drink more than a normal person can and still be pleasant in conversation? All of these are ways you can add value to the work lives of writers online. When clients will let you add these different types of value, instead of offering nothing more than “access” (the importance of which is rapidly declining) – then I think things are good.

Cathryn HrudickaCathryn Hrudicka: I find that some of my public relations and marketing colleagues “get it” and some don’t. Some are still debating whether they should be writing blogs, let alone participating in a true conversation (not just posting links and events in a promotional manner) on Twitter, Jaiku, Pownce, Facebook and others. I’ve been making a lot of noise trying to educate them. One key is that we do need more specific case studies using social media examples and hard data to show numerical (or even qualitative) benefit to clients. We’ve been starting to produce such data, but it’s difficult, and a bit slow in coming.

In addition to PR and social media consulting, I also do innovation consulting and training in creative thinking, as well as executive coaching, I see similar barriers to innovation in the PR industry as I find in other industries. Ironically, success can be a barrier to innovation. Some of the “late adopters” are actually very successful in their practices and are unwilling to tamper what’s worked in the past to try anything new or relatively unproven. Since PR pros are under intense time and budget pressures, and they are often working in hierarchical agencies that don’t allow them room to experiment and “fail” on specific pitches, they don’t have as many opportunities to experiment with social media. Younger PR pros need ongoing mentoring, training and coaching, and judging from the programs I see at some traditional PR agencies, they are not getting enough forward-thinking training. It is essential to get the C-level principals at a PR agency into social media first.

I have always been on the edge, in that I built the PR side of my business in a maverick way. My earliest PR pitches were more conversational in style, with outstanding results, so social media conversations with media people were always natural for me. You must know how to craft story angles and what each individual media source really needs from a PR professional; do your research on specific media targets and keep up to date with contacts; and have ongoing conversations with media contacts, so they also get to know you and will come to you when they’re looking for an interview subject or story angle. It is vital to view media people, social or otherwise, as colleagues, not just the targets of a “pitch,” which really seems like an outmoded word to me now.

If you found this article notable and you want to hear what the folks have to say on other topics, make sure you subscribe to the feed or come back tomorrow. The conversation tomorrow will deal with the issue of brand in the internet era.

We Love you Public Relations People – But Do It Our Way!

I just wanted to cap off this very tough week for PR people with a little bit of encouragement. As a blogger, I love you guys because you’re communicators by nature. You are generally effective in evangelizing a brand and keeping people looking forward an not backward.

The biggest thing I can give to PR people today is that you have to engage us. I love evrything that Brian Oberkirch has said. Take his entry. Print it out. Print it out 5 times and tape it to every vantage point of your cubicle that you can. Take a few print outs home and stick them on the refrigerator next to your kids artwork. Do whatever you have to do to remember the points he makes.

It’s important. We’ll still have you if you learn how to engage us. If not… well, career changes are always an option. ;-)

Organic Feed Reading

There is so much information shooting around on these interwebs that sometimes I have a hard time keeping track of all the conversations I want or need to be a part of.

Yes, of course I use Google Alerts to do vanity searches on my name, but I’ve found that in the past three or four months, I’ve got more value out of subscribing to search feeds. Now I search for everything – particularly on Google Blog Search. I’ve put much less focus on subscribing to individual site feeds (though I do that too), and instead search keywords and track them around the blogosphere. Actually, it’s been a fantastic way of keeping track of conversations and making sure I’d know about the conversations I need to be in.

I could see PR folks making use of search feed aggregation more than site feed aggregation. Do you use search feeds? Do you use them a lot? Have they begun to take up a significant portion of your reading patterns?

In case you don’t know how to get search feeds from Google Blog Search, this video demonstrates how.

How To Get an Angry Email From Me

So you know how I keep railing on Public Relations people? Yeah… That. I’ve decided to use one such PR Representative, a Mr. Cory O’Brien, as an object lesson. Though he doesn’t deserve it, I will leave his phone number and email address out.

Hi Site Owner,

My name is Cory O’Brien, and I’m the outreach manager for Guerilla PR. We are currently working with RealNetworks to help promote the release of their new RealPlayer®, and I’d like to send you a copy of the premium version for you to review on Suicide Fan.

Real has added some cool new features to the RealPlayer ([link removed]), and it’s now the perfect way to save, sort, search and share online videos. My favorite feature is the ability to download any non-DRM-protected video in the most popular formats to your hard drive with a single click, enabling you to watch them anywhere, anytime, without the need for an Internet connection.

Imagine this: You’re surfing through YouTube, MetaCafe, or Dailymotion, looking at football highlights, when you finally come across the clip you’ve been searching for. You click the RealPlayer download button that is hovering above the video window, and it instantly saves a copy of that video to your hard drive. Then, with that saved copy, you can easily show your friends, watch it anytime, or even burn it to a disc to watch on your TV. Want to share the video with your friend across the country? Just click the ‘Share Video Link’ button, and they’ll receive a link via email to go check out that very same video.

Though I think that this new player is a useful tool, I would love to know what you think. If you’re interested, please email me back and I’ll provide you with the download codes for a free copy of RealPlayer Plus, which is normally $29.99, and includes advanced features like DVD burning.

In addition, please check out www.guerillapr.com/real where you will find a variety of media that you can use for your post about the RealPlayer. There is a streaming, Flash-based slideshow which can be embedded onto any page, an animated viral video that explains the features, a how-to video narrated by a zombie, and a walk-through video that explains all of the new features.

Again, I would love to have you review the new RealPlayer, so please let me know if you are interested so that I can send you a download code for the Plus version. I look forward to hearing from you, so don’t hesitate to send me any questions, comments, concerns or tips you might have. Thanks!

Respectfully,

Cory O’Brien

Outreach Manager
Guerilla PR, Inc
415.460.****
85 Bolinas Road, Suite #17
Fairfax, CA 94930
*****@guerillapr.com
www.guerillapr.com

So let’s start at the top of this email.

  1. He addressed me as “Site Owner”. Is it difficult to figure out what my name is? I mean, here’s a hint – it’s in my email address.
  2. He referred to a dead podcast I used to do, but is no longer even on the net. Is this so hard to actually take the time to figure out. You make yourself look like a complete idiot.
  3. “Though I think that this new player is a useful tool, I would love to know what you think.” Is that so? Why would I waste my time? Besides, do you really think this is a useful tool or are you just saying that because it’s your job?
  4. “Again, I would love to have you review the new RealPlayer.” Don’t hold your breath, Cory.

Yes, I did respond harshly. I never do, but I’m really sick of PR people who think they are making the world a better place for their clients by pitching bloggers but having no idea what our world is like. I’m even more disappointed that an internet company like Real has engaged this kind of agency. Surely they could get more traction by grabbing Livingston Communications or Topaz Partners to do their PR.

hey smart guy-

Quit spamming people with your PR junk. If you had done your homework, you’d know SF doesn’t exist any longer. It doesn’t take a genius.

Go find out how to pitch your PR more effectively. Come back and talk to me after you’ve done so.

Everything you need to know.

Rant: Silicon Valley Fenetics

Yes, intentionally misspelled. Phonetics.

Phonetics and mashup are all the rage in Silicon Valley web 2.0 start-up naming conventions right now.  When it was Digg, FaceBook and Skype, this was different.  It was cool, fresh and neat.  You could not help but ask yourself, what’s that?!?

Now, it’s not cute anymore (‘sup Pownce and Jaiku!). Instead it signals, “Oh, another 2 dot-bomb.” OK, maybe we’re not there yet, but you get the point.

Branding gurus are charging clients tens, hundreds of thousands for not-so-cheeky plays on phonetics or slamming two words together.  Read TechCrunch, and you’ll find posts littered with examples:

Out of the three of these, there’s only one I like: TasteBook. Why?  Because it tells you or at least gives you an idea of what it does.  TasteBook allows Shazam-Poster-C10097475users to create and order custom hardback cookbooks (“tastebooks”). BTW, that’s what a company name is supposed to do. Tell potential buyers, partners and investors what kind of business it is.

One must wonder how much longer this latest naming fad will continue.  And if you don’t think it’s a fad, how many eGoofy cos and .bombs can you name in five seconds? Pets.com, eHarmony, eLuminant, etc., etc.

P.S. As a result of this rant and as a tribute to Doug Haslam, I’ve decided to rename my PR firm Shazaaamr.

La Regla de Oro de Twitter Marketing

This post is the Spanish-translated version of “The Golden Rule of Twitter Marketing“, published earlier on this blog. It was graciously translated by Twitter friend @cosmic_sailor. Gracias!

Usted conoce Twitter, correcto? Es la red social que trae a personas juntas en una conversación penetrante acerca de cualquier sucede en un momento dado. Como Mensaje Instantáneo o como Blogs. Pero en 140 caracteres o menos. Desde Blackberries y teléfonos celulares a applicaciones de la computadora y la red. Twitter es la manifestación de una nueva tendencia fresca de microcontent.

Yo adoro Twitter. Yo lo he estado utilizando desde febrero y mientras yo no fui el adoptador más temprano, yo fui un adoptador temprano. He visto Twitter surgir como el facto “atrás canal” en conferencias, el catalizador para el meetups improvisado y sí, como un dispositivo del marketing.

Cada vez mas, yo he mirado expendedores saltar en abordar el carro de Twitter, pero yo me pregunto cuántas personas realmente “lo consigue”. Vea, Twitter cultiva transparencia. Las mismas personas que dejan caer pepitas diarias de la penetración profunda en Twitter durante el día, quizan Tweet acerca de tomar sus niños al paseo. Cada vez más, la gente pueden Tweet sobre sus ubicaciones como ellos toman roadtrips con órdenes especiales destinadas para tramar su ubicación en un mapa. Estas mismas personas en el próximo aliento explican por qué es que esta compañía o el político son el trato verdadero.

La energía de Twitter está en la autenticidad y la transparencia. He dicho a menudo que la marca de fábrica no es algo que se puede controlar por las compañías. La marca de fábrica es controlada por los clientes. La confianza es controlada por las compañías. Si los clientes no confían en a compañía, su marca de fábrica es inútil. Si confían en a compañía, esa compañía ha asegurado a vendedor para la vida. La confianza es construida por la autenticidad, por la transparencia. Es la cosa que permite que las compañías funcionen en el siglo XXI.

¿Así que cómo trabaja Twitter para expendedores? Bien, para algunos expendedores, ellos son inconscientes a la transparencia. Por ejemplo usted siempre puede decir quién esta “en la conversación” y así más transparente y confiable, por mirar la proporción de “Seguidores” a “Amigos”. Nunca confíe nadie que tiene un número apreciablemente desproporcionadamente más alto de amigos a seguidores. Los amigos son definidos como personas que usted escucha. Los seguidores son ésos que escuchan a usted. La conversación de un solo sentido es nunca un gran catalizador para la comunicación ni transparencia.

Otros expendedores quizás sigaran mas gente y tendran muchos mas amigos que los siguen, pero si la totalidad de sus Tweets consiste en la promoción de sus productos, usted tiene una calle de sentido único. Otra vez, nunca confía calles de sentido único. Hay dragones en esas colinas.

Yo siempre encuentro obligando tremendamente los productos vía Twitter simplemente por entrar en la conversación con personas. Hay varias gente en Twitter que ha reconocido el poder de Twitter como un medio para la promoción, mas ellos comprometen sus seguidores en la conversación – a veces no relacionado a su producto. El asombrar dinámico aquí es la marca personal.

Cuando un ejemplo, NewMediaJim es un cámara de NBC. El no promueve realmente NBC en lo que él hace, mas todos estan enterados que NBC es su empleador y basado en ese conocimiento, es muy intuitivo leer sus Tweets acerca de sus varias excursiones en su vida de la carrera – entrevistas con gente, manejanadas a bases militares para encontrar con las gente militares que regresan de la guerra, etc. Esto obliga el contenido.

En la otra cara del juego de NBC esta el TodayShow, la fuente oficial de Twitter conectado a la exposición de la mañana de NBC. Aquí está un ejemplo de Twitter que vende ido malo. No hay conversación. No hay apelación de unir en la conversación de opf de comunidad. Es una oficina pública de relaciones que libera los comunicados de prensa sobre Twitter en 140 caracteres o menos.

Si tuve que detallar una Regla de Oro de Twitter, sera:

Píe acerca de otros al menos tanto como usted Pía acerca de usted mismo.

Cerciórese que sus esfuerzos del marketing en Twitter entran en la conversación. Asegure que usted promueva otra persona contento tanto si no más que usted promueve su propio. Cerciórese a personas saben quién usted es. Twitter es personal, así que construye su marca personal. Sólo ayudará su negocio. Confíeme.

The Golden Rule of Twitter Marketing

Para hablantes de español, leer Le Regla de Ora de Twitter Marketing.

You know Twitter, right? It’s the social network that ties people together in a pervasive conversation about whatever is happening at a given moment. Sort of like Instant Message. Sort of like Blogs. But in 140 characters or less. From Blackberries and Cell phones to desktop apps and the web. Twitter is the manifestation of a cool new trend of microcontent.

I love Twitter. I’ve been using it since February and while I was not the earliest adopter, I was an early adopter. I’ve seen Twitter emerge as the de facto “back channel” at conferences, the catalyst for impromptu meetups and yes, as a marketing device.

More and more, I’ve watched marketers jump on board the Twitter bandwagon but I wonder how many people really “get it”. See, Twitter cultivates transparency. The same people who drop daily nuggets of profound insight into Twitter during the day, might Tweet about taking their kids to the mall. Increasingly, folks are Tweeting their locations as they take roadtrips with special commands meant to plot their location on a map. These same people in the next breath are explaining why it is that this company or politician is the real deal.

Twitter’s power is in authenticity and transparency. I’ve often said that brand is not something that can be controlled by companies. Brand is controlled by customers. Trust is controlled by companies. If customers don’t trust a company, their brand is useless. If they do trust a company, that company has secured a marketer for life. Trust is built by authenticity, by transparency. It is the thing that allows companies to function in the 21st century.

So how does Twitter work for marketers? Well, for some marketers, they are oblivious to transparency. For instance, you can always tell who is “in the conversation” and thus more transparent and trustworthy, by looking at the ratio of “Followers” to “Friends”. Never trust anyone who has a significantly disproportionatly higher number of friends to followers. Friends are defined as people who you are listening to. Followers are those that are listening to you. One way conversation is never a great catalyst for communication or transparency.

Other marketers might follow lots of folks and have lots of friends following them, but if the entirety of their Tweets consist of promotion of their products, you have a one way street. Again, never trust one way streets. There’s dragons in those hills.

I always find tremendously compelling products via Twitter simply by engaging in conversation with people. There are a number of folks on Twitter who have recognized the power of Twitter as a medium for promotion, yet they engage their followers in conversation – sometimes unrelated to their product. The amazing dynamic here is personal brand.

As an example, NewMediaJim is an NBC cameraman. He is not really promoting NBC in what he does, yet everyone is accutely aware that NBC is his employer and based on that knowledge, it’s very insightful to read his Tweets about his various excursions into his career life – interviews with folks, drives to military bases to meet with military folks coming back from the war, etc. This is compelling content.

On the flip side of the NBC game is TodayShow, the official Twitter source connected to the NBC morning show. Here is an example of Twitter marketing gone bad. There is no conversation. There is no appeal to join into the community opf conversation. It is a public relations office releasing press releases over Twitter in 140 characters or less.

If I had to detail a Twitter Golden Rule it would:

Tweet about others at least as much as you Tweet about yourself.

Make sure that your marketing efforts on Twitter engage in conversation. Ensure that you are promoting someone else’s content as much if not more than you are promoting your own. Make sure people know who you are. Twitter is personal, so build your personal brand. It will only help your business. Trust me.

Down with the Press Release!!

First of all, thank you, Aaron, for asking me to contribute to Technosailor. It’s great to be here, and also serving a readership that’s not in the insular marketing blogosphere bubble.

The best thing about writing for you (as opposed to communicators) is that you already understand that PR and marketing sucks. I don’t need to argue that point. You know what it’s like to get a ridiculous press release, have a flack ask you to write up their product on the blog, sit through ridiculous ads, or suffer through another BS webinar. You’ve been on the receiving end”¦ and hate it.

The great hope of folks like Shel Israel, Brian Solis, Todd Defren, Kami Huyse, Toby Bloomberg, Chris Heuer and other advanced marketing minds is that social media can correct the wayward ways of this backwards industry. We want to refocus it on the actual community. Marketing and PR should not be about leads, but about serving a community and building good will between an organization and its stakeholders (note this word is not Audience).

Social Media Releases

Let’s start with a simple example.

Nothing stinks more than the inexcusable press release ““ a.k.a. the mindless drivel — that marketing departments use to spam news reporters, bloggers, analysts and their stakeholders. The press release was a mass communication tool, blasted out over a wire mechanism to media outlets. It soon lose it its value to news organizations.

Why? As PR became a popular marketing tool in the 80s and 90s, businesses and organizations filled their news releases with positioning statements, posturing to the media and their target audiences.

News releases are a very self centered activity, and rarely offers actual news, mostly because companies and PR pros don’t understand what media outlets considered news to be, and the news needs of companies’ communities. As a result, press releases usually have no real news value to the media or associated communities. News is something that’s new, and as media are dedicated to business trends or events of significance that their communities care about ““ just like any decent blogger — they ignore news releases.

Though the press release does have some search engine optimization and secondary direct community outreach value, it’s not optimized for ultimate results. Thus the diminished value of news releases.

Enter Social Media Releases

News documents do have value. According to Outsell, Inc. in November 2006, 51% of information technologists (IT) source their news from press releases found on Yahoo or Google News over traditional trade journals (via Brian Solis). To better talk with an organization’s community, releases need to be re-engineered to better serve them.

SMRtemplate Originally created by Todd Defren of SHIFT Media, the social media release combines the best elements of new media and significantly streamlines the valuable elements of the news release. The social media release provides new media community members dynamic information, including a bulleted statements of value, additional sources, multimedia content (podcast, video, graphics, etc.).

Readers are provided social media methods of publishing via network tags ( a la Digg, Reddit, etc.), and can use these elements independently or as a whole, really to their tastes. And media members like them, too.

Why? Much less BS. When executed correctly, bulleted facts replace spin (a possible acronym: stupid PR imitating news). Concise readable documents create multiple paths for community members, bloggers and journalists alike to enage in more information.

Coca-Cola entered by taking an approach other than buying real estate and creating a store. Working with the crayon agency, Coca-Cola opted to break into the 3D metaverse by getting out amongst the population. During the Second Life launch event, one blogger in attendance told crayon agency team member Shel Holz that that the event was like a class in “How to do social media right.” Shel’s very successful blog details the results to date, which have already been significant, in turn validating the experimental social media release.

Other examples:

What It Means

The combination of outbound promotion and social network attraction creates a new dynamic marketing mechanism. This next generation press release is much more valuable to its audiences, is community centric, and enables widespread dissemination. It creates multiple methods of pulling in community members who may be interested in your service, product or ideas.

This does not mean all social media releases will succeed. Here are the facts. Over spun BS won’t work whether its bulleted or parenthetical; social media-enabled or plain text. Find in this October, 2006 Buzz Bin entry on what I believe to be the content benchmarks of a media-attention-worthy news release. But if you’re on either the giving or receiving side of promotion, then the social media release tactic should be considered a better vehicle for organizations to communicate with their communities.

If you’d like to learn more, visit Chris Heuer’s Elements of a Social Media Release.

Marketers Live in Alternate Realities, erm, Second Life

I’m a pretty well known guy. I like that. It’s odd, at times, particularly at conferences or meetups where people I don’t know introduce themselves, “Hey, aren’t you that Technosailor guy?” Despite being known in tech and the social media scene, I never claimed to be PR-oriented, despite Geoff Livingstone calling this blog the top blog of that type in the DC Area. I still give Geoff the business for that. :-)

Unfortunately for Geoff, yet very fortunate to me – in my eyes – I am no rock star in the PR and Marketing communities. I do my own PR. I do my own Marketing. I do okay, but I’m not a rock star. In terms of that industry, I am but a nobody, a peon. I am guessing most everyone else falls into the same category.


Photo by Danilo “Maso” Masotti

I’m guessing that most people also don’t know about or pay attention to Second Life, the alternate reality digital world that marketers have obsessed over for several years now. Second Life is a virtual reality massively multiplayer online role playing game (MMORPG). Users create “avatars” that represent themselves or an alternate reality, purchase land and goods, build things and generally follow whatever path they want that might or might not reflect real lives in “first life”.

Marketers have swooned over this as it allows them to build virtual representations of their companies, events and people. It’s supposedly a great way to market in an alternate life to a subculture that is the Second Life group.

But that’s the kicker. It’s a subculture of reality. Yet hours and hours are spent along with immeasurable dollar values to market in this arena and I question the ROI. I have no issue with a moderate use of Second Life. But if you attend Ad Tech or any of the marketing groups in the DC area, and I venture elsewhere as well, you’ll find that Second Life is the only thing being talked about. Way too much is being invested in this thing.

I’m telling you folks, reality calls!