Targetting a transient audience

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Peter Himler, Steve Rubel and Rob KeyThis morning, I sat in on a session (conveniently held at Fleishman-Hillard) called “What PR Pros Need to Know About Social Media” organized by the Publicity Club of New York and PRSA-NY. Peter Himler moderated a discussion between social media heavyweights, Steve Rubel and Rob Key. Attendees were treated to a bit of a reality check as I like to call it. Steve and Rob discussed how the PR industry is at a critical point of transition. There are significant ramifications for communicators that fail to embrace change.

The world and influence of media is changing. People seek information in new ways and in niche spaces. Steve gave some great advice, suggesting that the most important thing is to understand the trends and what they mean to your business. Rob proposed that online destinations and digital hot spots change regularly. It’s kind of like a “rave“; here one day, there the next.

The new media audience is transient. People go with the flow, especially when they align themselves with a specific community. Word-of-mouth marketing has become a major mobilizer for trend-setters and followers.

I won’t give a full review of the event since Peter has done a great job with his Digital PR Musings post. There are a few concepts that emerged from the conversation that I want to share:

  • Reverberation – Steve used this word to describe the goal of online communication. I love it.
  • Collaboration – Rob must have mentioned collaboration at least 20 times. It is key to social media success.
  • Co-creation – Pretty similar to collaboration, but Steve used it in the context of content and perspective. Control no longer exists. Organizations need to learn how to collaborate and co-create with their publics.
  • Integrity – The nature of social media means that the conversation is wide open. Participants need to develop a thick skin in order to survive. Steve talked about surviving the Edelman-WalMart flogs blogstorm. I can’t imagine what it must have been like for someone so savvy and obviously in the know to see that happen within his firm. It’s a lesson for all social media practitioners and PR professionals.
  • Feed the Ego – When people are reaching out to bloggers with information of interest, you have to clearly identify what’s in it for the blogger. What motivates him or her to keep writing? Why should they care about you or your client? If they “cover” it, what’s it going to do for them?
  • Strategy – Rob mentioned that when he speaks at conferences, he often asks how many people have a social media strategy and the response is always sparse. Few professionals have really figured out how to do it, or have taken the time to realize it’s a different world.

    Finally, I am always amazed at how much information Steve can process. Apparently he is up at 4 a.m. everyday. He has usually updated his blog before I’m on my way to work. He also mentioned that he receives more than 120 pitches daily and only about 2% are any good. As a PR and social media pro, I think he finds it astounding that there is so much crap bombarding him. It really put him on the receiving end. Granted social media pitches are entirely different and new to many. It’s time to get with the program if you haven’t already.

    [tags] social media, public relations, prsa, publicity club, steverubel, robert key[/tags]

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        4 Comments on “Targetting a transient audience”

        • 9 December, 2006, 22:46

          Reverberation… sounds interesting. Like sound reverberating around an enclosed space, you want to find the relevant conversations (enclosed spaces) and keep your message continually moving (reverberating) to all corners of the room.

          Is that what he was getting at?

        • 10 December, 2006, 14:09

          That is exactly it, Neil. As a music guy, it struck a chord with me. Another term in music I’d use in an analogy is sustain – “sustained reverberation”. We want to ensure that the message resonates and continues to break through the noise over as long a period as possible.

        • 10 December, 2006, 22:20

          I had an opportunity to attend this event as well. Social Media is rapidly expanding and you are correct, if you are not with the program it is to your best interest to get with the Social Media program ASAP.

        • 28 December, 2006, 9:20

          David –thanks for sharing your thoughts on the event; this type of discussion is beneficial to small agency pr pros, like myself, who wouldn’t otherwise be able learn and participate in forums hosted by the bigger agencies.

          I found your thoughts on strategy most relevant. When my clients seek counsel on the pro/cons of blogging, podcasting or any of the new social media tools it always seems to boil down to strategy. It seems to me the first question when discussing these tools with a clients should be “what is the business trying to achieve?”. From there, it become easy to line up a social media strategy that has the business objectives at its core. From my limited experience, there doesn’t seem to be much of that sort of dialogue going on between the social media working groups and the client; it’s nice to see Rubel and others touch on that.

          Secondly, I wanted to say I enjoyed your podcast with Paull Young over at Forward. I’ve just come on board as a contributor to Forward and I’ve listened to all Paull’s interviews. And I’ve got to say yours one of the most motivating discussion in terms of young pr pros and new social media tools. Thanks for taking the time to do that.


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