David Hargreaves

Reflections on the reinvention of the PR industry

The Data Imperative: Will PR Win or Lose the Battle for Data?

pie-chart 

 

It was interesting to see some of the latest findings in a study entitled 2009 Digital Readiness Report, released by iPressroom. It highlights the fact that PR is ‘leading the social media revolution inside an organization’ which is great to hear. It was also interesting to note that PR lags marketing in just two disciplines: email marketing and SEO, but leads in the disciplines of blogging, social networking, social search and micro-blogging. There is a great post on Jason Falls blog discussing the report in more detail.

I am clearly biased but I am passionate about the fact that the discipline of PR, which is routed in influence, should be the rightful owner of social media. In so doing, we can transform PR into a discipline that cuts across all departments within the organization.

However, if we are to succeed, I think there is one big obstacle we need to overcome – how we use data. If you look at the two disciplines where the PR profession is lagging marketing they are the two areas which are also driven by data. If we are to succeed it is imperative that we become masters of data and how we use data to drive campaigns.

There are lots of great companies out there which are helping to provide the industry with the tools we need to put data at the center of what we do. (I particularly liked BuddyMedia who I met last week in New York).

Yesterday I had another reminder. The ad agency of one of our clients made a grab for a part of the tactical execution of the Facebook component of a campaign. The rationale, according to them, was that they hold all the data analytics for the web site so “it makes sense.” The great skill we have as PR professionals is that we understand how to create and drive content that influences and engages people. However, that will only take us so far unless we show how we then turn that engagement into paying customers.

We are making good headway as an industry but the battle over data is still far from won. 

 

*Also posted on Bitemarks

Filed under: Communications, Marketing, North America, Public Relations, Social Media, Technology, Trends, Web Analytics, , , , , , , ,

The Professional’s Dilemma

I am not sure if I am the only one, but I do struggle with what I use various different social networking tools for. Do I accept certain people to be friends on Facebook? Do I Tweet about what I am doing at the weekend when I know that most people who follow me only do so for work-related reasons? Do I accept friends on LinkedIn and if so, why?  I am sure my friends would be thoroughly uninterested in me referencing the latest social media news in my Facebook status.

We all know that work and home lives are converging as work practices become more flexible and as so-called millennials become an ever increasing proportion of the work place population. Consequently, it is only natural that our use of different communications channels becomes increasingly blurred. On top of that, if you look at how leadership philosophy has changed, it is now considered to be just as important for people to know you as a person as it is for you to be able to make the right strategic decisions.

Against this background, I must confess to being somewhat surprised by an article with Jeff Weiner, CEO of LinkedIn in the Sunday Telegraph, in which he blankly refused to answer some fairly straightforward questions such as: what is your favorite holiday destination? favorite car?

I certainly understand the need to keep some elements of professional and home lives separate, but equally it is important to know a bit about the personal story of people behind the business. I think LinkedIn is a great tool and I use it fairly heavily for work. However, it struck me as odd, the CEO of LinkedIn, taking the ‘social’ completely out of the ‘professional social network’. Maybe LinkedIn really is that serious a business? With a valuation of $1bn, it is obviously doing something very right.

Filed under: Communications, Social Media, Technology, Trends, , , , , , ,

So Who Are the Real Experts?

Last week we completed the second of a couple of pitches for social media work where we were pitching against an eclectic mix of agencies; some PR, some digital and some more known for their measurement services. The decision makers were similarly from varying backgrounds. Some were from the web team, others from the PR team and some from the social media team. 

The whole process of putting together the presentation was fascinating because we suspected that the digital agencies would pitch ‘building a shiny object’ on the basis that “if we build it, they will come”; the competing PR agency would pitch engagement with existing audiences in existing channels; and the measurement company would probably do loads of data analysis up front and at the end, but were unsure what they would do in the middle.

What struck me more than anything during the process was that it was a futile exercise arguing the rights and wrongs of the different approaches because a successful campaign will probably comprise all three elements which is why we are seeing so much change in the overall agency landscape right now. Last week saw another raft of announcement as Voce acquired a web firm.

In going through this process, what occurred to me is that there are an awful lot of people claiming to be social media experts (very eloquently argued here by Brian Solis), but the real experts in my mind are the ones that are communications experts who can transcend channels and disciplines. Having a social media expert who understands how to use Twitter or Facebook is a bit like having an expert who understands how to use the telephone (you get my point – it is just a channel). However, a communications expert that understands how to use the power of multiple channels (both old and new) in tandem is really valuable.

And the result of the pitch? I don’t know yet. But it did have me leaving the room thinking…I wonder what background the social media experts were from? Are the real social media experts not the ones who are the real communications experts?

 

*Also on Bitemarks

Filed under: Communications, Public Relations, Social Media, Twitter, , , , , ,

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