Monday, May 25, 2009
Where I see a problem at this juncture is the disconnect between communicators and those that they counsel.
Too many clients and prospects remain anchored to the communication practices of the past and are unable to see or accept what's coming at them on the horizon. What's worse, they disregard the advice of the people who watch that horizon for a living! Yes, this lends itself to a macabre business analogy wherein we fail to recognize the peril we're in until it's right on top of us.
The five primary objections are that (1) social networks are time wasters, (2) social media is too time consuming, (3) these tools are only for teens and twenty-somethings, (4) they are fringe communications activities and are not useful for reaching customers, media or influencers, or (5) they are filled with irrelevant drivel.
All are dead wrong.
If you're a decision-maker with an organization who's realizing a little late that it's time to act, my best advice is that you hire someone who knows what you don't--a communications team with a range of personnel who has invested in understanding these tools, developing best practices and formulating policies that account for a Web 2.0 world.
Take decisive action and get to the social media high ground swiftly; avoid wallowing around trying to find your own way; and recognize that the cost of waiting or going it alone will far outweigh the cost of getting it done right and quickly.
Thursday, May 21, 2009
Leadership North County is a nine-month program for government, business and nonprofit leaders that takes 30 students from across North San Diego County . I took the program in 2003.
The event was at Oceanside's KOCT studios. Before my talk (see slides below), they heard from a panel led by KPBS's Alison St. John with Tom Fudge of KPBS, Catherine Garcia of NBC 7/39, and Kent Davy of the North County Times. Later in the day, Dick Daniels of RMD Communications led a session on interviewing with traditional media and Brett Sondrup of NCTimes.com shared the innovations taking place at their local daily newspaper (check out http://my.nctimes.com for example).
This was a room full of very smart, motivated and connected people. I really wondered how this group of very involved community members would respond to the seachange in communications that they were being presented.
Mark Tucker with AECOM Energy in Solana Beach suggested that whereas newspapers used to drive many of our beliefs and behaviors, the recommendations of 30 regular people on Twitter now seemed to have a mini-Oprah effect, as he put it.
David Tarr, Director of Career Technical Education at Escondido Charter High School noted that with this explosion of outlets for your message, you have to be more careful than ever about what you post because it's going to be there forever. Others echoed that concern, but Tarr also saw the benefits of using social media for communicating with a limited budget as did others.
Tarr was concerned about letting students loose on social media sites which was interesting because several others suggested high school students could be hired to help them get this work started. (I understand people thinking that some young kid is going to make all of this easy for them, but that's a fantasy. FYI, if you're looking for the easy route and that's driving your communications decision-making, you're destined for disappointment.)
Jim Farley, who runs a family foundation, noted that new social media tools allowed you to skip the media and go directly to your audience or stakeholders.
Ligeia Heagy, who works for the City of Vista as a Management Analyst in the Engineering Department, suggested that municipalities need to communicate using whatever tools their residents expect.
Janene Shepherd, Aide to the Deputy Mayor for the City of Oceanside, noted that as soon as you discover what works for you that tool may fade out of fashion.
Jeremy Raimo, an orthopedic service line administrator with Tri-City Medical Center, felt that so many diversified outlets meant that you had to now carefully choose the right one to reach your audience. For instance, Twitter is a great medium for connecting with people aged 45 to 54--a fact that I'd shared and that apparently changed his perception about who's using social media.
Troy Strand, Executive VP of Independent Energy Solutions in Vista, said it's all about time more than anything. He could use that same time to work on the company's strategic plan, for instance, although he could see the value in raising his company's profile via social networks.
After a lot of discussion, it appeared that social media policy was the missing link for this group of leaders--which is the subject of a blog post of its own.
Friday, May 15, 2009
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
Social media is just another way of getting things done -- developing relationships with sources, conducting interviews, responding to readers, and driving readers to the paper's content. Gawker shared examples of how the paper's staff flagrantly (and in the case of @karaswisher, famously) flout these rules. (Thankfully.)
For an example of 'best practices' for journalists using Twitter, check out this thoughtful post by Leah Betancourt, digital community manager at the Star Tribune in Minneapolis, Minn. A.K.A. @l3ahb3tan on Twitter.
I'll keep the post short, but for the love of the newspaper industry, work it out WSJ!
Saturday, May 9, 2009
However, we’ve had clients say ‘I don’t care about blogs or Twitter.’ Or ‘Our customers aren’t reading blogs or on Twitter.’ And last week, it was actually ‘I don’t believe your data.’
So, take a look at what follows and think about the stage you might be in. Do you believe that the most likely demographic to be on Twitter is 45 to 54 year olds? That 19 million people visited Twitter last month? That Facebook has 200 million users? Are you ready to relinquish a little control over your communications and toss out your ideas and activities like a beach ball at a rock concert and see what gets tossed back?
It might be time to stop the denial and live a little.
THE STAGES (definitions and examples sourced from Wikipedia for science-y effect)
Denial is usually only a temporary defense for the individual. This feeling is generally replaced with heightened awareness of situations and individuals that will be left behind after death.
For PR firms, marketers, journalists and those who employ them: yes, this is happening to you! Go get a Twitter account and follow @themediaisdying for the play-by-play.
Once in the second stage, the individual recognizes that denial cannot continue. Because of anger, the person is very difficult to care for due to misplaced feelings of rage and envy. Any individual that symbolizes life or energy is subject to projected resentment and jealousy.
Oh boy. This is the ugly part and requires tough love. It is only made worse the longer you stay in denial. Stop finger-pointing at Craigslist for killing Classified’s cash cow, or Google for aggregating news content. Quit bawling out your ad team as if it’s their fault no one reads ads anymore. Stop bitching about product placement in TV and film—you know you’d do it if you could afford it! It’s time to GET OVER IT!
The third stage involves the hope that the individual can somehow postpone or delay death. Usually, the negotiation for an extended life is made with a higher power in exchange for a reformed lifestyle. Psychologically, the person is saying, "I understand I will die, but if I could just have more time..."
You are more than half-way to a social media breakthrough! You’re putting on your ‘reality goggles’ and starting to see the possibilities! “Maybe if I reconnected with my old colleagues on Facebook or LinkedIn, I’d have a network that could help me in my job search, if needed?” Or, “If I could get followers on my Twitter feed reading my news content or being driven to my YouTube channel, then at least I’d have a built-in audience for my material if I had to freelance for a while.” "Maybe if I gave a recommendation to my old boss, she'd give me one too."
With the disintermediation of news and entertainment that the Internet brings, recognize that your communications skills make you a free agent! Start understanding the trade-offs and where there’s opportunity for you. Simply put, if you’ve got talent (like half of Britain, apparently) and an ounce of self-motivation, you can become the Susan Boyle of social media. (If you’ve never heard of Susan Boyle, see Stage 1 and seek professional help immediately.)
During the fourth stage, the dying person begins to understand the certainty of death. Because of this, the individual may become silent, refuse visitors and spend much of the time crying and grieving. This process allows the dying person to disconnect themself from things of love and affection. It is not recommended to attempt to cheer an individual up that is in this stage. It is an important time for grieving that must be processed.
Perseverance is half the battle! Do not give up. And social engagement is the whole point—don’t cut yourself off. You’ve got to invest the effort and the energy to get yourself on the social media map and engage with the people you’re seeking to build relationships with. Don’t hide behind ‘protected’ updates.
This final stage comes with peace and understanding of the death that is approaching. Generally, the person in the fifth stage will want to be left alone. Additionally, feelings and physical pain may be non-existent. This stage has also been described as the end of the dying struggle.
Example - "It's going to be okay."; "I can't fight it, I may as well prepare for it."
Yes! You made it! You’re seeing the light and you’re ready to go into it. And, best of all, you don’t need to go into it alone. Your enlightened agency is here to take you by the hand and guide you through it. We’ve gone through these very stages ourselves, and we’ve worked it out so that we can be there for you at your time of need!
BBBZZZZZTT..... Okay, sounds like our time is up. You can get up off the couch now. The next time we meet, I’d like to discuss your plan of action and how we can help you launch it, maintain it, and monitor your results.
In the meantime, let’s keep the lines of communication wide open. And if you’ve got any thoughts to share, there's a Comment space below and a link below to share them on Twitter or Facebook. Let's make this sharing a part of your therapy in between sessions.
Thursday, May 7, 2009
I shared some examples of effective B2B social media communications with a technical focus. You can get a sense of the content of the presentation from the slides below.
I did steer the audience toward FriendFeed as a more technically oriented social networking tool. It may have a smaller number of users but when your target audience is limited to the 275 engineers that truly understand your area of electrical design, that's all you need--it's not about attracting thousands of followers, just those who matter.