Seeking PR Influence? Read. Share. Think. And Make Your Own Rules.

This past week I participated in our Founder, Christine Perkett’s (@missusP) ReadyTalk (@RTWebSem) webinar titled “PR Experts as Influencers: How social media has changed the PR landscape forever – and what it means for you.” She discussed the importance of PR professionals using their connections, relationships and influences to help positively influence others or drive awareness (or directly drive customers) for their clients. Also, she shared the ins and outs of how any brand—personal or company– can adopt and achieve value in social media effectively. In Christine’s words: Successful PR is all about you.

Some insightful points I noted from her webinar:

  • We’re tastemakers — we’re all consumers who help dictate styles and trends. It’s important to share your brand experiences (positive and negative) in a way in which you can also share insights for other brands or clients. Turning your experiences into a helpful marketing or PR lesson helps raise your profile as a smart marketer and brand influencer.
  • Read every single day. Then use social media (ie: Twitter, Facebook, etc) to show your community what you’re thinking. This will help elevate your expertise in the areas in which you specialize. Don’t just share links – provide commentary on each piece.
  • Don’t ignore the opportunity to build your personal brand because it lasts forever — it’s like a live resume.
  • Be authentic — there’s tremendous opportunity via social media to “do what you do and do it well” – that is, showing reporters, clients, prospects that you are paying attention, engaging, and have valuable insights so share.
  • Speaking of sharing — make sure to tie in business marketing or PR lessons to elevate content and position yourself as a smart marketer. You want to be an influencer not just a participant.
  • Make your own rules — social media provides a great testing ground because everyone is exploring. Encourage your company or clients to try some innovative new marketing or PR ideas by testing the waters yourself. Post a thought provoking question that you know will spark debate. Write an unexpected blog post. Involve customers in a marketing campaign. Take some chances and share what you’ve learned to encourage your marketing team to innovate.

After the webinar, I started really thinking about Christine’s thoughts — about how convoluted PR and social media have become (and how much it doesn’t have to be). PR isn’t changing — it’s already changed. And will continue to change. Social media has the power to drive authenticity and build brand loyalty, but you need to fully understand how to effectively use social media as a PR tool — a communications tool. Bottom line: PR and social media need to be giving a lot of strategic thought. They don’t just “happen,” at least happen well, by signing up on a popular network. And a PR agency with the know-how, skills, and proven success is just the thing to assist a brand in doing so.

And then I made a connection.

I immediately thought of a company I “liked” and have been following on Facebook for the last few months after reading a feature article on Boston.com. This brand has not only enthused me daily, but has been one of the most creative fashion brands I’ve seen on Facebook — EmersonMade. As stated on her Facebook page’s company overview: EmersonMade offers a one-of-a-kind and compelling shopping experience that believes in celebrating the uniqueness of the individual, the joy of being alive and all the smallness that makes up the Big Beautiful.

And the brand delivers just that.

 

If social media is an opportunity for a company to break the mold and create unique content (content being the key) — EmersonMade achieves this. She makes her own rules. Her updates are interesting, fresh, and relevant. She has tapped into what her followers want and keeps doing it. From Facebook to Twitter to her company blog—she not only leaves me wanting her beautiful products, but I always find myself marveling her creativeness, thinking, how did she come up with that?

And there is absolutely no comparison with big fashion brands like Zara, BCBG, Madewell (to name a few). Their approach is, well, boring. They seem to not understand that social media is not about how many fans you have or just showcasing your products — it’s engaging your target audience. Not in an average way — but in an ingenious way. A way we have never been afforded until now.

Christine’s final words of her webinar have stuck with me: Be an innovator. Thinking outside the PR box. Adopting social media in ways to support innovation. Trying new ideas. Taking a chance and making it pay off because as Christine stated, this will lead to greatness.

So my fellow tastemakers — what are your secrets to influencing your social communities? Do you have a favorite brand that nails it? Or is there a brand that you wished could give you more? Please share your thoughts in the comments below. And thanks for reading!

Actually, Pay Attention To That (Wo)man Behind the Curtain

Last week Hubspot – via Twitter Grader – highlighted the The 100 Most Powerful Women On Twitter which included a lot of influential and interesting women I expected to see there, such as Ann Handley, Jennifer Leggio, Beth Kanter, and Charlene Li, and a few surprises that I wouldn’t have readily thought of, but are very interesting to follow nonetheless. Happily, we also noted that our CEO, Christine Perkett@missusp was also included within the Top 25 women on this list – of course, we’re not surprised because we know how hard she works to keep on top of the industry, as the PR and social media landscape constantly changes. But we are very proud and impressed nonetheless. (Is this a good time to ask for a raise?)

After the initial hoopla on Twitter about the list and congratulating the women we know personally, Christine asked on Twitter, “so what does it all mean.” I’ve thought about this before when lists like this come out – do they really mean anything, and if so, what? Does the general public really care who is influential on Twitter? Are these people really influential or do they merely appear to be, to those of us who are really ingrained in social media?

After thinking about it for awhile, I’ve come up with what this particular list it means to me – I would love to hear your thoughts on what it means to you or to the rest of the world.

  1. PR professionals – from “flaks” to influencers – when I started in PR, those in my profession were completely behind the scenes – like the Wizard of Oz sitting behind the curtain pulling the strings. We are in the business of making our clients stars, so naturally, we don’t make the story about us, nor should we. However, along the way, we learn a lot – about our clients, their business, the market and how it changes. We have to learn about new technologies, trends, products, and publications, giving us more than a layman’s knowledge of many different industries. The rise of social media, however, has given us a voice and has allowed us to highlight our expertise and the value we can offer to others without being overly promotional. Certainly, our clients are still the stars – we still devote 95% of our time to them, but a handful of smart PR folks are now also seen as experts who have influence in the industry. And you know what – our public influence is being asked about more and more by prospects, and evaluated by clients – if we are selling the ability to influence audiences and teach our clients how to become more influential in their industries, it makes sense that we should be have our own strong industry credibility.
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  3. Journalists and PR professionals can play nicely together – Take a look at those on this list and the other “Twitter influencer” lists that are posted regularly. They now contain reporters, bloggers and PR professionals (among others) – and because of their involvement in social media, a lot of them know and respect each other more than ever. For every blog post that fuels the journalists vs. PR “flacks” debate, there are hundreds of social media interactions every day between the media and PR that help bridge the gap and help the two get to know each other better and more personally. When you can see each other as people/friends and not the enemy, it is easier for everyone to do their job. Watching Christine joke with several of the other “top influencer” bloggers and journalists on Twitter after this list came out really drove this home for me.
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  5. PR professionals are trail blazers – at least in the tech industry. Many years ago, Christine told our staff that we needed to “figure out what these blogs are all about” then a few years later that we needed to start figuring out what social networking was all about – Twitter, Facebook, Linkedin, Whrrl, etc. – so that we could evaluate how it should be used in our business and for our clients – and if it should be. Christine always takes the reins for our company to ensure we try out and experiment with new technologies for ourselves before we try them for clients. Often people think that it’s only the “techies or the journalists” that are first adopters of technology, but many smart PR companies are the first to appear on new social sites and are among the first with the new gadget or toy because we pay attention and have close relationships with those influencers shaping the market. If we’re doing our job right, we realize value and ROI before the public does – thanks to being privy to many start ups and innovative new advances by existing companies, working early with the reporters and influencers who evaluate them and their products, and paying attention to where the tech industry is headed. Also, because we’re responsible for counseling our clients on how what works, what doesn’t and where they should pay attention. In fact, we’re often involved in product direction and development discussions because we have a pulse on where the industry is headed.

Our discussion about this list on Twitter prompted Hubspot to offer to sponsor a meetup for the top 100 women on this list – PerkettPR is considering organizing this event, but we want it to be more than a Tweet-up – we would like it to offer value to attendees and to maybe even benefit a charity. Would you attend an event that offered insight from the Top 100 women influencers on Twitter? If so, what would you like to get out of it? Tell us here and help us create a fantastic event!