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Thursday, August 11, 2011

Public Relations: It's a feeling you get.

Today, it’s easier than ever for companies to talk directly with the public. And, the public is expecting it. This is contrary to everything brands and media relations professionals have been practicing for decades, but really, it’s time to adjust or be left in your competitor’s dust.

Allow me to share a story…

A few weeks ago, I saw a post from Danah Boyd on Google+ about a treadmill desk. I’ve been eyeing these things for a while now and after viewing the post, shared it with my network with one word, “want.” Moments later, Kris Hansen from Target Commercial Interiors (who also helped me out once in the past with an event I was working on) responds in the comments with, “Would you like one to demo?”

Long story short, a few weeks later, a huge Target truck was parked outside of my home office (that in itself was enough to melt this Minnesotan’s heart) and this Steelcase Walkstation was wheeled in and set up. And, you can guess what happened next. I was twitpic-ing and G+ing and Facebooking the heck out of the fact that I had the demo, and was suddenly walking 6-10 miles per day while working.

Here’s the thing…

I don’t blog about fitness, treadmills, workplace environments or the like.

I’m quite certain Kris didn’t check my Klout score before offering this demo.

I don’t have 20,000 followers on any particular social network.

But, I do work in marketing and PR, am tightly connected to a community of other professionals who I talk with a lot, and in turn, share a lot in their networks. Kris saw an opportunity there.

And, due to the relationship Kris and Target Commercial Interiors has built with me, I have wonderfully confident feeling about them and their product.

Of course, several of my followers became quite curious about this setup.

And, I was more than excited to…

...take time for back and forth about what I thought of the product.

...tell them how wonderful their delivery guys were (especially on the hottest day of the year).

...share how awesome the company is to work with.

...send them a link for more information.

In fact, someone from Steelcase got wind of the conversation, too, and joined in. (Props for good listening!)

Good (or bad) Public Relations can, and does, occur within any department. Now more than ever, it’s key to pay attention across silos and understand how others in the company are forging relationships with the public.

I have never purchased anything from this company, yet through this small effort, I’m pretty much a fan for life.

With this effort, Kris put feeling (my feeling) ahead of sales and sat back to see what would happen, if anything. The company put faith in the long tail return and confidence in their brand persona, and let it shine. And, for this member of their public, and those members I reach with my stories about them, that's more powerful than any press release.

Kary Delaria is a digital PR strategist and social media monitoring and measurement specialist for Kane Consulting, a mInneapolis-based social media firm that specializes in cross-channel integration. You can find her on Twitter, @KaryD or reach her via email,