The Changing PR Landscape (PRSA teleseminar reactions)

Once again I had the pleasure of sitting on one of Peter Himler‘s legendary panels. Today I joined Peter, Adam Christensen (manager of social media communications at IBM), Stacy DeBroff (CEO of MomsCentral) and Max Kalehoff (VP marketing at Clickable) for The Changed PR Landscape: What Works, What Doesn’t.

It’s amazing how insufficient 60 minutes seems when you’re discussing the most significant evolution the public relations industry has ever seen. There is so much to talk about. Topics during the session ranged from:

  • companies managing their viral and Google footprints
  • how much time an organization should devote to managing social media initiatives, 
  • leveraging employees as online ambassadors and corporate representatives
  • using social media to collaborate, inspire and motivate action, and
  • the role of search in communications.

We really only scratched the surface. The first half was an opportunity for each speaker to talk about what they do and comment on where PR is headed. The second half opened lines to listeners to ask some really great questions.

  • A team of county public affairs professionals from North Carolina asked how they could capitalize on social media at the local government level and they were directed to Personal Democracy Forum.
  • A PR consultant cited an encounter with a client disappointed that her work landed an article on a Wall Street Journal blog, but not in the print edition. I argued that there is great value in this since that content will remain accessible for a longer period of time than an article in the print edition that may appear online, but may only be accessible to subscribers. Reader commentary and reactions to the blog could improve credibility of that coverage. Stacy also suggested that a placement like that can be linked to from other sites and used in ongoing PR initiatives.

Determining value and quantifying ROI is a major hot button for many PR professionals. Why should they integrate social media? What does success look like? We talked about quality vs. quantity of coverage as a major point of distinction in social media. Digital communications allows you to pinpoint the audience and reach those that genuinely care or affected by your offering. You can also measure direct response as a result of social media.

So many topics. So little time.

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3 Comments on “The Changing PR Landscape (PRSA teleseminar reactions)”

  • 13 January, 2009, 18:07

    Dave, nice recap. It was nice to participate on the panel with you.

    The ROI question always seems to come up front and center. And that makes sense… anything unfamiliar needs to be prodded at a bit to make sure people get comfortable with it. Ultimately though, I hope it goes away. People don’t ask about the ROI of email any longer. I hope we get there with social media too. Heaven knows people can waste as much time with pointless email as they do with pointless facebook apps.

    One of the challenges is that ROI is so different for each company. Every company has a different business model, corporate culture and business objectives. So ROI SHOULD be different for every company. I think the phrase you state, “what does success look like” is probably the one least asked. Because ROI should be defined based on what success you are trying to achieve. And while benchmarking another company might be helpful, it should only be a starting point. What we do at IBM might be intellectually interesting or even somewhat helpful. But in reality, it isn’t until people start discussing the unique qualities of their own business that ROI can even be thought about being measured.

    Anyhow… I could go on and on. Anyhow, thanks for the recap of the call.

  • 14 January, 2009, 18:55

    We also need to consider what the “I” in “ROI” means – is it Investment (time/money) or Influence? Social media is cheaper than traditional media, though many of us find it a time consuming – that’s a given. Instead, we need to measure how our social media efforts give us more influence. And as the example above mentioned the WSJ blog mention vs. the print edition – the blog link will have more influence over time than something in print.

  • 24 January, 2009, 10:24

    Last fall there was an excellent article in Brandweek that argued ROI was becoming ROE (return on engagement). I think this is more significant for organizations that strive to measure results online. I can see return on influence being a good way for bloggers seeking ways to validate the reach and impact of their property as an advertising channel for organizations seeking niche entry points to an audience or interested market.

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