One of the most disconcerting things that can happen in business is that once the owner believes they have figured out what to do, what works, and how to do it; the capabilities and requirements change. The “rules of the game” shift and what once was seen as progessive is now outmoded or replaced by newer methods of performing. This is perhaps nowhere as true as it is in Marketing and Public Relations. With the speed of change in technology, the pervasisveness of social networks, and the cultural acceptance of many of the new sites and platforms for communication; there has been a revolution in how to integrate the use of social networks into one’s marketing and public relations efforts.
On November 22nd, the Fairfield County Public Relations Association (FCPRA) will host renowned expert, author, and consultant, David Meerman Scott in Stamford at the Italian Center for a breakfast meeting scheduled to start at 7:30am to discuss how businesses can leverage the “real-time marketing skills” needed to compete in today’s marketplace. In what promises to be an illuminating presentation, Scott will address issues including:
- How real-time marketing and public relations can help and hurt today’s communications professionals;
- Ways in which the Internet fundamentally impacts the way in which we do business; and
- How speed and agility are a major advantage in today’s competitive marketplace.
Scott recently answered a number of questions posed to him in anticipation of his presentation addressing the new truths of real-time marketing and PR.
1. Define social media (what it is, what it is not)
DMS: Most discussions about “Web 2.0” and “social media” focus on the technology . We hear discussions about blogging, blog software, YouTube, and tools like Twitter and Facebook. But what few people have figured out is what kind of content brings out the enormous potential of this technology. What that requires is understanding your buyers and building the content to get them to notice your ideas.
- So, in essence, the need for being customer-focused supercedes the enticement to use social media to explore the outer reaches of what the technology “can do.”
- 2. What are the “new rules” vs. advertising and PR?
DMS: Many marketers steeped in the tradition of product advertising naturally feel drawn to prattle on and on about their products and services. Marketers need to understand this, “Nobody cares about your products and your services (except you).” What people do care about are themselves and how a product can solve their problems. Instead of hyping products and services, new rules demand that marketers/companies create interesting, compelling and useful online content for their potential customers. In all your communication, think how it benefits the customer, not what’s in it for you.
3. What are the “dangers” of participating in social media?
DMS: The only danger is choosing to not actively participate online because even if you choose as a company to not participate, your brand and your company are still being talked about. Many company executives and PR people trace their worries about social media to their belief that “people will say bad things about our company.” This fear leads them to ignore blogs, online forums and prohibit employee social media participation. But the benefit of this kind of communication is that you can monitor in real-time what’s being said and respond appropriately. You can meet your customers’ needs in real-time and that’s an incredible advantage over your competitors.
Of course, we have recently also seen CEO’s like John Mackay run into trouble when he blogged under an assumed name about the merger with Wild Oats Markets. Steve Jobs, of Apple has also been criticized for how he has answered customer posts on blogs and corporate bulletin boards. So, while it is advisable that companies not shy away from social media, it is also appropriate to realize that whatever is shared will be subject to review by anyone and everyone.
4. What should companies do to make sure they are adhering to good “brand messages” in social media that are on strategy?
DMS: I think the nature of “brand messages” is inherently dangerous because it forces marketers to be stupid because it means that companies talk in an egotistical manner. The right thing is to forget about you and focus on your buyers and your marketplace and let that drive how you communicate.
5. Is Social Media private communication or not?
DMS: Everything you put on this Web is accessible and it will continue to be so.
Here in Connecticut, there is heightened interest in this issue as a woman was recently fired over Facebook posts.
Part 2 will include additional questions with David Meerman Scott in preparation for his presentation to the FCPRA to be delivered in Stamford. For tickets, please go to http://fcpra.org/.