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Thursday, September 30, 2010

Changing the Channel

No, this is not a post about television and the ratings game. Rather the natural infatuation with a new toy and PR people are no different. As a group, I would say PR pros are intellectually curious and seem to have a wide variety of interests that span well beyond what’s on television tonight to fill the time. Continuous learning and experimenting is one of the ways that top communicators remain in touch with their particular target audience and understand what the audience will need next. So where’s the problem? Everything I’ve raised so far is good right? Well, don’t fall in love with a channel.

I enjoy so much of the new technology that is currently available to us. Facebook allows your audience to have a much more connected experience with your company or product; Twitter can serve as an excellent source for real-time search with millions of users broadcasting news or opinions relevant to them at any point in time; YouTube users view two billion videos a day; and Foursquare is just tapping into its full potential as a retail engagement tool that will further increase loyalty to a particular location as more and more venues begin to offer benefits to users. What about others that don’t get the media attention but have really transformed how we can work? Slideshare is an outstanding resource that can extend your content and be extremely valuable to others. LinkedIn is viewed by some as a dinosaur but it is underutilized as a data mine for connecting to others all over the world.

Here’s the thing though, how are you feeling about that huge MySpace investment you made? Who remembers Friendster? How about Yahoo 360? And there is core the point of this post. Right now, social media is an essential and a bit trendy part of the PR person’s toolbox and I believe it will continue to be for the foreseeable future. However, as counselors that have a responsibility to our employers and clients, we must remain focused on the objectives we have for social media to engage with the audience that is appropriate for the project rather than the one we think is “hot” or our own favorite. The landscape changes quickly and if you lose sight of the goal and focus on the shiny new object you might wind up left behind. Below is an excerpt from an Information Week article discussing a new channel for B-2-B companies.

The real value of XXXXXXXXX for Cisco is the opportunity for spontaneous customer interaction, said Christian Renaud, chief architect of networked virtual environments for Cisco. "It's like a birds-of-a-feather session that goes on 'round the clock," he said. He routinely encounters customers XX XXXXXXXXX who want to talk to him about their needs and what they want Cisco to do. "I bump into customers and partners multiple times a day XXXXXXXXXXXXX. In 11 years at Cisco, walking through the parking lot in San Jose, I never get people that come up to me and say, 'I'm a Cisco customer, have a second?'"
Sounds like a pretty amazing channel for connecting doesn’t it? Any good PR pro must be on top of this. If you’d like to fill in the blanks you can visit the original article here. Yep, for those that were there, this was the pending glory known as…wait for it…Second Life, a mere three years ago. Companies were clamoring to spend money there. I was told it was going to change “everything” for the industry.
Love the engagement; don’t fall in love with the tools.