Asking the Right Questions about PR

Mark Rose is asking all the right questions. In his post on the recently launched Google Sidewiki, he asks:

  1. What’s your social media PR strategy?
  2. What’s your Wiki strategy (Wikipedia, Wikimedia, Google Sidewiki)?
  3. What is your social media news creation and delivery mechanism?

He goes on to point out how PR is no longer about getting coverage and is, instead, about “How do we impact our audience through our own media?”


That point came up, albeit obliquely, during the PR panel at the recent Web Innovation Night in Boston. I’m not going rehash it all here (you can read several good posts on the topic) but anyone trying to market their organization or product, especially those in the entrepreneurial realm, needs to look beyond coverage and take a hard look at their assets.

  • Do we have a passionate spokesperson who can produce content?
  • What channel is best for reaching our audience?
  • How do we access those channels and become involved in conversations?

This isn’t to dismiss the importance of media relations. It is certainly an important part of any outreach program, though here at Fresh Ground we include media relations under the heading of “influencer relations,” as the tactical implementation of reaching out and setting up briefings is the same whether it’s a journalist, blogger, analyst or any other individual who has broad influence.

But for most companies, the days of paying a big retainer just to try to get in the press on a regular basis is over. The ecosystem of media that existed to support this idea has changed drastically, leaving companies with a need to shift how they approach their PR.

Turning Social Media into Topical Media

I started a Facebook page. Suddenly I had friend requests from three dozen people I had not seen in years, among them relatives living on other continents. It was great to see everyone again. There I was in my home office late one weekend evening, having a little reunion with people from my past. Then the gloss wore off when someone IM’d me and we had nothing to say to each other. Awkward moment… how do you end that conversation? Fortunately, I had to put my son to bed. Well, um… nice chatting. IM you again sometime.

I went back to my Facebook wall the following day. I learned that one friend was taking a shower at that very moment, and one would be staying home from work on Monday to take care of her sick kids. A friend had forgotten his wallet on the bus, and another declared that she now prefers the taste of Tom’s of Maine over Crest toothpaste. The same friend had tried fallafel for the first time the previous evening. She liked it and would try to make it at home. Bored yet?

While I love people and their stories, Facebook’s personal content is often diluted to suit all “friend” audiences, and as such it becomes sterile. The sterile-content problem is addressed in an interview that Tom Ashbrook, host of NPR’s On Point, recorded last week. His guest, Vanessa Grigoriadis, just published an article in New York Magazine entitled, “Do you own Facebook? Or does Facebook own you?” This is a question I’ve often asked myself when looking at some of the Facebook addicts I know.

Yet despite the trivial, diluted content that might give Facebook a bad rap (and at times drive me crazy), social media are emerging as extraordinarily effective personal and business tools. [Read more…]