“New Marketing” and “Social PR” are Simple. Talk With Me.

I constantly see chatter, blogs, articles and tweets out there about “New marketing” and “How PR works – or if it’s even necessary” now that social media is so mainstream, easy and accessible. Oy, I am so tired of the misconceptions that social media has somehow replaced these important roles in business. But I’m even more tired of everyone over-thinking this whole “new marketing” thing. Is it really that complicated? Here are a few quick “rules” to it that I think anyone can grasp:

- Social media is a tactic tied into a larger communications strategy. Key word: strategy. Have one. Actually, have more than one, because it’s important not to lose sight of the fact that there are different communications strategies across different parts of your business. Communicating with customers about a service issue is not the same as trying to sell to a prospect or get the attention of a journalist. Make social media a part of how your business communicates. But don’t tell me your “social media plan” replaces solid marketing and PR.

- Marketing has changed in that marketers (and others, like politicians) now have to talk with their audience, not just at them. One of my favorite quotes on this is from Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff in the book Groundswell: “Marketers don’t understand channels where you have to talk and listen at the same time.” That was in 2009, and I think that while many marketers are now understanding that they need to be on social channels, they still don’t know how to start actual conversations that lead to valuable interactions between their business and its audiences.

- New marketers (and PR execs) make their audiences feel important. You can only do this by building a two-way relationship. That means that you listen as much as you “talk,” even when the “conversation” gets uncomfortable (i.e., complaints about your business or products). Be prepared to handle both your brand champions and your detractors – but always let them know how important they are by talking with them. Ask questions, recognize them, make it clear in your content (Twitter updates, Facebook posts, videos, what have you) that you’ve listened to them. Need an easy example? Think Old Spice. People watched, listened, shared because they were a part of it – feeling important and recognized – even if but for a second.

- Share great content. You’ve heard this a zillion times -  but maybe it’s more important to say share interactive and meaningful content that others will want to share as well. Oh, and it should be relevant to your business, whether it’s meant to be a revenue-generator, a branding campaign or simply an awareness builder. A favorite example of mine is Life is Good Radio. It’s sticky content that ties in perfectly to their culture and company mission. If you don’t know how to build good content, get help. Seriously – without it, you are not marketing in today’s world.

- Remember, it’s not that complicated. It’s just changed. Quite simply, you can’t dance if you don’t stop leaning against the wall hoping someone will talk to you. You have to start the conversation. If you don’t know what this means, you probably shouldn’t be in marketing in the first place.

What are your best tips for “new” marketers and social PR?

Persuasive Picks for the week of 05/24/09

SpymasterSpymaster: The Twitter Game That Will Assassinate Your Time
As if Twitter weren’t enough of a distraction from your day on its own, we now have “Spymaster” to contend with. Keep your eyes peeled for the “#spymaster” hashtag to start flooding your stream, as the wild adoption of this new Twitter-based game ensues!

Nine worst social media fails of 2009… thus far
Ok, so this one technically came out last Friday, but it’s definitely worth a mention in this week’s picks – especially if you haven’t seen it yet! Jennifer Leggio profiles nine of the potentially worst social media efforts so far this year. Online campaigns from Denny’s, Motrin and Quiznos are included in this post that will surely give you an idea of what not to do in the social media space.

When & How To Pay A Blogger
If you’ve considered compensating a blogger in exchange for writing about your product or service, then you better think carefully before executing the plan. Groundswell author and Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff provides some insight of his own along with the pre-requisite guidelines that were recently published by the FTC.

5 Rules for Creating Content that RULES!
Many companies struggle when starting a blog and it’s not necessarily from a lack of content to post. Sometimes the struggle stems from figuring out the best way to position or present that content. Matthew Grant eases the process with this post on Marketing Prof’s Daily Fix with five helpful rules to follow when preparing your content for publishing.

Google Wave: A Complete Guide
The announcement of Google Wave, Google’s upcoming real-time communication platform, received quite a bit of buzz this week. The feature list is pretty impressive and I can already see many ways it could fit into a web-worker’s daily interactions. Check out this guide from Mashable for the low-down. Here’s the video of the Google Wave developer preview from the Google I/O conference as an added bonus:

Persuasive Picks for the week of 05/12/08

Why Twitter Matters
As the popularity of Twitter continues to grow, we’re starting to see it gain more mainstream press coverage. This post on BusinessWeek.com by Stephen Baker dives into what the future might hold for the Twitterverse.

Best Social Media Advice From This Site
Chris Brogan compiles some of the best and most informative posts on his site and breaks them up into categories for mass consumption. Enjoy filling your brain with this Social Media feast!

Answers to all of your Groundswell questions
From one information packed pick to another! Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li provide answers to the many Groundswell related questions that came to them from the 700+ people who joined their recent webinar.

SEO Quick Tips
SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is generally an area of expertise that can take a good portion of mental bandwidth to master. However, most readers will find value in getting some exposure to the basics. Steve Spalding from the “How to Spilt an Atom” blog posted these SEO Quick Tips that were shared with him by Mark Hager of Knoxville, TN Web Design.

CBS to Acquire CNET for $1.8 Billion
Definitely the most highly “tweeted” acquisition story this week. It should be interesting to see how CNET’s content changes and what plans CBS really has in-store post merger.

Top Time-wasters for Web Workers (And How to Cure Them)
Valuable advice for those (like you) who utilize the web on a daily basis. Just be sure to practice the cures AFTER you finish being distracted by this week’s Persuasive Picks!!

Drop the Excuses and Start Participating

As you may know through my various Tweets, I spoke yesterday at the Ragan Corporate Communicators Conference in Chicago with our EVP, Heather Mosley. We substituted at the last minute for another speaker who dropped out unexpectedly. I’m not going to lie, I was nervous coming in as the backup substitute – none of the conference materials had indicated any change in the session until about one hour beforehand, when it was announced at the opening session. It was definitely on our minds that the audience had been expecting some heavy lifters (a much larger, global agency) to discuss digital marketing. I’m not a “digital marketer” and we had only a few days to pull together our presentation. Would we disappoint them? Could we teach them anything new? Would they walk away feeling the session was valuable? What if they already know everything we were talking about?

We changed the subject matter to something more our in line with our expertise, of course. At PerkettPR, we’re enthusiastic about social media and the opportunities – and challenges – that it presents to the PR profession. Our session was titled, “Join the Conversation: More Effective PR Through Social Media.”

For some, this may seem to be an oxy moron. Many constituents are shouting from the rooftops that PR is dead – due to social media. I completely disagree. I think it’s forcing us to evolve – but that’s a good thing. Social media presents amazing opportunities for communications professionals to engage with their publics in ways never before possible. For me, it’s thrilling. I am so enthusiastic about social media that I liken it to wanting to jump on the couch like Tom Cruise to emphatically express my love for it.

Yesterday, as we started speaking on this topic, the majority of faces in the room looked at us like we were crazy. Facebook for business? Linkedin Answers? Link love on blogs? Twitter-what??? Although, their eyes did light up when Heather explained Twitter like this: It’s like entering a noisy, crowded stadium and saying, ‘Is there a doctor in the house?’… The entire stadium quiets to silence and everyone sits down except for four people that raise their hand and say ‘I can help!’…It’s that powerful and can provide a whole new lifeline of resources to draw from.

We had expected that the majority of the room would not yet be embracing social media (luckily, we were right or we could have been really boring). We knew we weren’t going to be in a room full of technology PR professionals. However, I’m also surprised at how many communicators haven’t embraced what is arguably the biggest evolution of our industry in decades…and their reasoning has nothing to do with technology.

Here are some of the questions and objections to social media participation that really stood out for me:

1) How do you find the time
2) What do you do if someone says something negative about you in the blogosphere?
3) How do you get corporate management to let you participate in social media?

I could go on and on about these topics but I’ll try to keep my recommendations simple.

1) If you don’t find the time I believe you will be out of a job. This is the way communications is going. Participate or be left behind. It’s that simple. Seriously.

Okay, okay, I did provide real tips such as: start slowly; join Twitter and observe for a while. Try to go on a few times a day to begin – post a question in the morning. Come back at noon and check for responses in DMs or aggregators like Tweet Scan. Post thank yous/follow up and another question. Come back before the end of your day and repeat. This can take ½ hour total.

2) It depends. Was it a customer? Was it a competitor? Was there any truth to the complaint or comment? There is no one right answer but there are guidelines to keep in mind – transparency and common sense being two of them.

We provided a few examples from experiences with our own clients. Two different crisis and two different recommendations: one, a posted apology and two, a personal phone call to the blogger. Different situations that called for different actions. In the end, both were turned around by … participating.

3) My answer for this today is simple – hand them a copy of the new book Groundswell by Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff of Forrester Research. (Really, it should be required reading for all marketers, communicators and C-level executives.)

Better yet, read it first, highlight the parts that apply to you and the company (and trust me, no matter what industry you are in, there are examples that will apply to you) and put it on every corporate executive’s desk. Include a sticky note with this great quote – one of many – from the book:

“…While you can’t stop it, you can understand it.”

And just for good measure – maybe include another of my favorite quotes from Charlene Li: “While you cannot control word of mouth, you can influence it.” Then explain to them that you cannot do either of these things if you are not allowed to participate.

I hope we helped some communicators at the conference to begin to understand “it.” Forrester calls it the groundswell. Others call it Web 2.0 and still others the new social landscape. Whatever you call it, it’s here to stay…so jump in!

I’d love to hear comments from you, Dear Community, as well. Can you chime in with your ideas and help these professionals learn? After all, isn’t that the spirit of what this new social movement is all about? (Thank you, in advance!)

Persuasive Picks for the week of 04/14/08

This week’s picks include some diverse topics like podcasting and viral marketing. Enjoy!

Embrace unsatisfied customers to bolster your brand?
Stephen Shankland posted this great article on the CNET News Blog that was based on discussions during a panel at the Ad:Tech conference earlier this week. Do the people who handle customer complaints and the social network-savvy folks in your company reside in different departments? Check this post out for good examples of why merging these groups together can be a positive change for your company.

“Podcasting 101″ on KCBS with Tim Coyne & Lance Anderson
If “Podcasting” is still a foreign word to you, then take a look at this short clip of LA-based podcasters Tim Coyne and Lance Anderson as they help explain the basics during a CBS news TV segment.

BlogPulse: Metrics Based on Conversation
As the search for the “silver bullet” of Social Media/Blog metrics continues, take a peek at this surface level view of BlogPulse as an alternative tool to using Technorati or Google Blog Search.

Groundswell Discussion Forum Now Open
Following the release of his and Charlene Li’s highly anticipated book, “Groundswell,” co-author Josh Bernoff announced the launch of the official discussion forum site in support of the book. Everyone is invited to participate and join in the conversations starting there now.

What I’ve Learned About Viral Marketing in Three Weeks
Diana Huff continues to deliver up useful content for the B2B marketer with this post on the reality of viral marketing and includes links to some useful resources on the topic.