The New PR Tools Gain Credibility, Lose their Fad Status

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Sat, Jun 23 - 2:26 pm EDT | 7 years ago by
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The era of online interactivity started to establish itself years ago, but only last year did the skeptics start to move off of their "this fad, too, will pass" comments.

Liverpool Street Station by Victoria PeckhamWas it the purchase of YouTube for $1.6 billion that finally dragged the skeptics off their platforms of bluster? Maybe. Or it could have been one of the other turning points that showed the impact interactivity can have: Wikipedia’s dominance in search engine categories; Skype’s ability to connect people cheaply and easily without a massive global vertical infrastructure; the continued impact on popular culture and the media of bloggers pursuing news where they see it happening; the first podcasting superstars Amanda Congdon. Ze Frank and Ask a Ninja turning miniscule production budgets into international audience reach; LonelyGirl15′s viral voodoo; the strong financial returns on mini publishing empires like TechCrunch, the Huffington Post, Gawker Media and Perez Hilton. Take your pick, or choose your own event that signalled for the fence sitters that interactivity can’t be ignored.

The early adopters of social media public relations were accused of simultaneously making too much of a niche activity (the Shel Holtzes of the world), and using their muscle to make it look like they invented social media (the Edelmans and, well, Edelmans).

The skeptics have been saying all along that good writing, strong strategies and relationship building are more important than jumping on the latest bandwagon. But why do those things have to be mutually exclusive?

Says Jim Sinkinson of Bulldog Reporter:

"Message mapping, powerful PR writing, crisis management, telling stories, building trust, creating long-term relationships—these will always be core communications skills, and we have to know them. But the context in which we use these skills is being dramatically turned upside down.

"I encourage you to consider that this is a new beginning, and we’re in the middle of it. Blogging, search engine optimization, social media, online video, viral marketing, wikis, virtual worlds—these are the new tools we’ve been gifted. This is our chance to take hold of history and to make history."

An organization (or an individual) now has tools available that don’t require massive investments in infrastructure and expertise. You can be a leading podcaster in your field without being a consummate sound engineer. You don’t need banks of servers. You just need to be willing try, learn, and try again.

Beginning with research and strategy is still important. Tying your communications goals into your overall goals is still important. Measurement is still important. Not treating your audiences and influencers with contempt is still important.

All that’s different is the number of options, the immediacy of reaching (and offending) audiences, and the need to be even nimbler than you were before.

So feel free to get off the fence, if you’re still waiting to see if this fad will pass. Use new tools, don’t use new tools. It’s your choice.

Just don’t be afraid to jump in because blogging and content sharing is only for the geeky enthusiasts. If the Ragans, the IABCs and the Melcrums of the world are spreading the gospel, social media has long ago moved past a fad.

Link via The Buzz Bin.  Photo by Victoria Peckham.

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  • Geoff Livingston

    Thanks, Eric. I agree, the ship’s leaving the dock for naysayers. It’s time to run on board. Did you see Steve Rubel jumped on the Participation is Marketing bandwagon yesterday? Yet another sign. The wheels are turning faster and adoption progresses.

  • Kevin Dugan

    Eric – Good points. Folks always need to keep the golden rules of planning in place (research, audience, strategy). But they also need to play with all of the shiny new stuff so they can recommend the best possible tactical plan.

    This is the only reason I can throw out there to explain why I am currently on Facebook.

    Some get so overwhelmed they simply block it all out. They should just jump in and start playing. No pressure.

  • Pingback: Are the New Rules of Marketing and PR Here to Stay? | Copyblogger

  • Scott Bauman

    Good post. I’ve been an evangelist in our agency for years and I’m finally feeling like some clients are getting it. The biggest challenge – and I see it with my own colleagues – is that we have to try harder to prove the value of the “cool” social media initiatives. Take an hour to map out how that podcast you seeded to message boards found its way to three blogs and eventually ended up in a BusinessWeek blog post. THEN, show how many possible prospects you reached for your client. You can do this on a few slides if you’d like, but use images…after all, your visual has to equal what in the old days was a traditional clipping a client could forward around the office. Give them something to see and experience not just the satisfaction that they’re now “doing social media.”