I finally have a new career.
Same PR business, same clients…but my toolbox is brand new and full of social media strategies. Even better, my clients are stepping up and are willing to try them.
I studied Web 2.0 for four years, engaged in a forced reorganization of my brain cells. I’m so glad it finally paid off. I’m no longer forced to focus only on news releases, public events, media training, and story pitching. Now I roll up my sleeves and teach clients how to communicate directly with their customers, via social media. This is as good as it gets, and it didn’t come easy.
The arguments were fierce.
1. "We’ll lose control of our message."
Did you ever really have control? Your news releases, news conferences and community events were either read or witnessed by only a handful of people. The reporter wrote your story.
Also, if you aren’t currently talking with your customers online, you have already lost control. Anyone can say anything they want about you and you won’t even know.
2. "Our industry has regulations that limit this kind of communication. Or…we have a profession that will lose credibility if we blog, twitter, etc."
Top government agencies, publicly traded companies, businesses that normally cloak themselves from the light of day…they’ve gone online. My friend’s son has a new job…he blogs for an attorney.
3. "We need to be able to measure our communications."
Yes you can! Social media will overwhelm you with details: Numbers, activity tracking, interest tracking, unique visitors, partial but not final clicks, audience reaction, and regular feedback to help you sharpen your message. In the past, our measurement depended on traditional media via circulation, subscribers or ratings. Social media measurement is to business what DNA testing is to the criminal justice system.
4. "We could hurt our reputation. Employees could offend our customers with photos and even offensive posts."
Yes and yes. But measure this risk against not using social media. Your competition is or soon will be. Meanwhile, you will be perceived as hunkered-down and non-transparent. Write a social media policy and open your doors to the world.
My new PR mantras:
1. BLOG. Companies that blog have far better marketing results. Blogging increases Web traffic by 55 percent and grows inbound links by 97 percent (HubSpot research).
2. Become the news. Put a newsroom on your Website and link your releases to your blogs, Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn pages and others. Oh yes, you can still send news releases to media but I’m warning you, reporters are overwhelmed.
3. Send your announcements to industry bloggers. Do it delicately and do it right. Do not nag!
4. Buy a good still-camera, an HD video camera, a professional microphone and MP3 voice recorder. These are so inexpensive it will make your heart sing. Become the news reporter at your company and document, document, document. Then post the visuals and your announcements on all of your social media pages.
5. Give your online customers something of value: Research, prizes, product to sample, free Webinars, ebooks, white papers, a sneak peak at your latest whatever. If you give, you will get back. Almost sounds like a new Golden Rule, doesn’t it?