Saul Kaplan, a well-known innovation expert, hit the nail on the head when he said, “The 21st century organization challenge is being both a lab and a factory at the same time.”
How does one “experiment” with digital when the daily battle is to get the coverage report out and the holding statement right and the evening event done and the mails and the media calls…we know how it is, right?
But the truth is, if as an organization and an individual you are not “doing digital” consciously and consistently, you are being left behind.
A prospect client recently told my firm, “Our PR firm does not cover digital PR. So we are talking to you.” We put together a detailed plan and next month on, a social media team will be creating and curating content, counseling their leadership, managing outreach, building thought leadership…sounds familiar?
Last year at PRAXIS, the keynote speaker had an inspiring take on the need for PR professionals to be T-shaped Hybrid individuals. A year has gone by and I’m sure digital and the need to go beyond traditional PR will continue to be discussed this year too.
Here are my key learnings and suggestions for PR/Communications professionals:
Don’t “add digital” to every PR proposal and pitch just for the glam quotient.
Choose your battles. PR teams need to work on clients over time so focus on the one or few for whom it can make the most visible difference or who have the budgets and are open to digital.
Same if one is a client side Communications professional: look for the one program where the management will best appreciate a digital approach and impact. And work with the PR firm to sell it internally and make it happen.
Don’t leave it to the digital team alone. And involve them early on.
PR teams know their account/client organization the best. Focus on the narrative, and what could spark off the right conversation. Digital /social is an approach rather than about the platform or technology.
PR is now participatory, at an individual level.
Make the time for Twitter. Call me biased, but both for your personal brand and for your client/employer, it’s where the action is.
Follow the journalists who cover your space, discover the subject matter experts, share interesting
content, connect with people, build your own credibility.
And be genuine: Twitter and social is the best bullshit detector.
Listening: you need more than Google Alerts.
Today, online monitoring through a paid tool is a best practice, but in case your client/management has not yet come around to the view, you need to monitor on your mobile 24×7. Sign up for a twitter /social alert on your brand name + key words that matter. It’ll keep you abreast of key conversations or a crisis about to happen.
Deepen your understanding of digital tools, programs and measures.
Have a working knowledge of tools. In KPIs, go beyond reach and twitter trends. Break down successful case studies to what made it work and see how you would apply it to your account or employer. And look at measures beyond one campaign. It’s a series of conversations that build relationships and trust.
Influence has to be evolved not purchased.
Just because you bring a group of bloggers into a room, it doesn’t translate to credible content , conversation or perception change. Read the blogs in your space, leave comments, share the good links, build your credibility and relationship over time. You need to build your network before you need it.
Influence is not the same as popularity.
Influence and influencer are probably the most misused terms today. It has to be relevant to your brand category and the value is in what the influencer/advocate shares. The key as always is great content.
Content is king, so make it rich and remarkable.
Be creative and persistent. The biggest challenge in telling a brand story is often that there’s no great story to tell. Or it’s not easy to suss out from customers and internal experts. If it’s not inside the client organization, look for it outside–turn to the crowd.
Lastly, build bridges with the Marketing guys
The only way social and digital can deliver more value is if it’s integrated into overall Marketing and PR. So where you do have a social or PR mandate, connect with Marketing, learn to speak their language, see how you can seed your ideas into the mix. P&G’s CMO Marc Pritchard recently declared “Digital Marketing is dead. It’s all brand building…” So clients don’t care where the good ideas come from. Make sure they are yours.
As Amith Prabhu said in his recent column in MxM India, “PR has the most at stake in Social”. So does every PR professional’s future. Look forward to more discussions at PRAXIS2013!
Vijay Sankaran is currently Director-Digital Strategy & Planning at Social Wavelength. His background spans two decades of Advertising, Digital Marketing, Digital PR and client side social media for a global firm. At heart, he is still a copywriter questioning and redefining the brief.