Share This Too launched

Share This Too

The start of term is looming and preparation and planning is underway. That’s why it’s taken me a week to get around to posting about the launch of, Share This Too, the second social media handbook published by Wiley.

Written by the CIPR‘s Social Media Advisory Panel and a range of practitioner friends there’s a  pretty impressive array of topics covered, including:

  • Creating content frameworks
  • Analysing online audiences and planning
  • Gamification
  • Content curation
  • Community management
  • And loads more

My chapter looks at the rise of big data and how data mining can be used to plan and deliver strategic PR activity. It looks at this practically using a case where data was used to identify potential consumer issues for an organisation before they become full blown complaints. By being able to ‘predict’ and address these issues the organisation aimed to reduce its workload.

I conclude by arguing that this kind of innovative, data-led PR can help the PR discipline achieve a more strategic position – both within organisations and within the wider business and marketing consultancy industries.

Sounds good doesn’t it? Don’t let Brian Solis’ foreword put you off, go and get a copy from Wiley or Amazon.

 

 

PR needs to solve problems to stay relevant

Something I’ve been thinking about recently is the scope and pace of innovation in journalism and the wider media industry. Just take a look at the multiple posts on Journalism.co.uk about using emerging digital tools for improved and innovative news-gathering and reporting. Or take a look at The Times’s Digital Experiments blog where the paper’s digital types talk about their “‘not quite finished’ projects and products […] share some best practice tips and tricks as we learn and try our new platforms and features.

In a great post on the Poynter Institute’s blog about mobile disruption in journalism, Cory Bergman argues that “News needs to solve problems”:

“A study by Flurry in November found that the news category only accounts for 2 percent of total time spent on mobile apps. Social apps gobble up 26 percent. Facebook alone accounts for 23 percent of all time spent with mobile apps, according to Comscore in December. That beats every news organization’s app combined by a long shot. As Facebook (and Twitter) grow in time spent – and since both are populated with plenty of news – they’re increasingly competitive with news organizations’ mobile experiences by sheer volume. As a result, simply extending a news organizations’ current coverage into mobile isn’t enough. We need to solve information problems for our users and drive measurable revenue for our advertisers. Mobile is not merely another form factor, but an entirely new ecosystem that rewards utility.  Flipboard is a classic example of solving a problem (tablet-based content discovery) while The Daily is an example of a product that did not.”

Such problem solving is an issue which I believe the media and news industries are embracing whole-heartedly but that the PR industry is failing to address adequately. I could be wrong and have just missed great examples of problem-solving and innovation… but my instinct (and experience) tells me that a) generally speaking PR is not adapting to the social or digital space as fully as other marketing industry sectors (see Jed’s recent post for macro-level issues) and b) where it is adapting it’s doing so reactively to the current challenges faced by the news or media sector. Thus as the sector innovates rapidly PR risks finding it practices and norms outmoded very quickly. Again, I could be wrong and it’d be interesting to see inside and study some examples of PR agencies that are – or consider themselves to be – innovating.

What’s missing as far as I can tell is what Cory Bergman refers to as a ‘startup mentality’:

“The way to get startup ideas is not to try to think of startup ideas. It’s to look for problems, preferably problems you have yourself,” explains Y Combinator’s Paul Graham. “By far the most common mistake startups make is to solve problems no one has.”

There are some interesting and potentially powerful examples of great start-up ideas emerging for PR practitioners, such as Adam Parker’s Lissted – but not enough in my opinion.

And I guess this highlights two further questions: 1) who is responsible for this innovation and 2) where does innovation lie. Firstly, Lissted is developed by Realwire, the online press release distribution service. It’s not developed by an agency. Why is this? Clearly a number of factors come into play but considering the structural challenges faced by the PR industry mentioned earlier it could be argued that while PR agencies operate with tighter margins than other more ‘business strategic’ players in the marketing service sector, such as media and advertising agencies (the result of PR’s historical legacy as a tactical media relations discipline) there’s no capacity or desire to invest in innovation. And such a reality is surely set to worsen as digital increases the cannibalisation of the sector.

Secondly, if we accept this reality then where does potential innovation lie? In-house innovation – if it happens – may well be retained as proprietary to justify investment (although you’d hope that open sourcing, transparency and sharing would be remain the spirit). The news industry has think tanks to help identify problems and spur innovation in a way that the PR industry doesn’t have. Perhaps we should look to other areas obliquely involved in the PR industry where people have time to step back and analyse the industry, its practice and future direction and spend time developing solutions.

What I’m thinking about is the potential for universities with PR courses to lead in this space. It’s something I’ve been starting to do with my students through assessing student’s ability to identify communications problems and using tools such as IFTTT to create solutions. Similarly, industry bodies, such as the CIPR’s Social Media Panel should be steering industry leadership through innovation. As a member of the panel this is something we will be seeing more of through out 2013.

Such independent and collective groups can surely help build solutions and bridge the innovation gap. Forward thinking agencies could pool resources – financial, creative, etc – and and collaborate with the groups mentioned above to help drive innovation and help PR stay abreast of wider digital and social developments.

Share This: Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals

I’ve been involved with a great project over the past few months which finally came to fruition last week as the CIPR’s Social Media Advisory Panel launched a new social media and PR handbook.

Share This: The Social Media Handbook for PR Professionals contains 25 chapters spanning strategic resources, practical guidance, industry change and tools and technologies across a range of different sectors written by a range of experienced practitioners.

The book came about, as fellow panel-ee Julio Romo writes, because after three years providing social media counsel for the CIPR:

“last year we thought that the time was right to put together a book for everybody in business – those in PR and communications, as well as those in marketing, finance, sales and customer service. After all, social cut’s across business disciplines.”

Since being listed on Amazon the book has sold out – not a bad performance by a book originally conceived as a sharable pdf ebook. Ever the inquisitor, I was thinking about what has made the book so popular earlier this week and I believe I’ve distilled it into the following factors:

  1. Firstly, the handbook draws together a wealth of smart and experienced senior practitioners who cover a wide range of different topics yielding comprehensive, expert content
  2. Secondly, the book provides specific cases and practical detail for the changing nature of social media and PR – not just repeating platitudes about how social media is ‘changing everything’
  3. Finally, many social media books are written by US authors whereas Share This comes at the topic from a clear UK context, incorporating case studies; campaigns results; statistics and insight from UK-based practitioners

My contribution, ‘Social Media and The Third Sector’, features in the industry change section and examines how organisations in the non-profit sector need to think about their communications and campaigning strategies in relation to what I term the ‘new networked reality‘ in which they now operate.

I suggest that the nature of the sector should be ideally suited to the socially motivated aspects of this networked space but that a lot of the strategic and tactical changes that organisations need to make can run counter to conventional organisational thinking.

The chapter concludes by pointing to a future where organisations will need to become ‘hybrid’ and work with strategically aligned online networks of supporters, partner organisations and the increasingly networked and active public.

 

CIPR Summer Social: is the PR industry falling behind SEO?

I’ve been very remiss in failing to mention and big up the CIPR’s Summer Social.

The Summer Social is a series of informal meet ups organised through the CIPRs Social Media Advisory Panel (DISC: of which I am a member).

So I'm making amends as of now and urging anyone in the PR, marketing and social media sectors to get along to this week’s event as it tackles an oft-debated and really important issue: where do the lines between SEO and PR blur? When is it right and where does it put your clients at risk?

The event takes place from 5pm – 7pm at the CIPR HQ, 52-53 Russell Square, London, WC1B 4HP. and is hosted by Speed Communications' Stephen Waddington who asks: "Has the PR industry failed to reskill for SEO – and will social media be the next missed opportunity?":



“Search agencies are increasingly packaging planning, content development and analytics, into a payment-by-results model. It’s a compelling proposition for a marketing director that is seeking guaranteed outcomes.



Now search agencies are starting to use PR tactics such as press releases, by-lined content and wire distribution to drive their campaigns prompting the scrutiny of the role of PR versus SEO.



This week’s CIPR’s Social Summer 2010 workshop will ask what the PR industry can do to regain ground on SEO. And whether social media, like SEO before it, will be the next missed opportunity for the PR industry.”

The idea of Summer Socials is to offer PR and marketing professionals the chance to learn and find out more about social media and a host of related topics.

It’s less formal and structured than traditional CIPR events or workshop which is a good thing as for the £10 cost we serve beer and nibbles and you get to quiz experts and fellow practitioners about the emerging media landscape.

Looking forward, future Socials include sessions from Wolfstar MD Stuart Bruce, MD of Tweetdeck, Iain Dodsworth and Julio Romo with guests form Channel 4 and the BBC.

WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?