Posted by an Honored Guest
Ya know, every so often, lightning strikes here. Every so often, the muse will drop by with a gift. This is certainly one of those times.
The following is truly a reference piece. Our colleague Ike Pigott was recently inspired to write on the modern age of PR and its present dilemma. Using a fundamental postulate of quantum mechanics, Ike sheds light on PR's present uncertainties. It's genius.
By way of background, Ike Pigott is a veteran reporter turned communications coach. A 16-year veteran of television news, he was an Emmy-winning writer with a reputation for storytelling. A gifted coach, he taught broadcast storytelling to stations before moving on to corporate interview coaching and crisis communication preparation. Pigott is now the regional Communications and Government Relations Director for five southeastern states for the American Red Cross. He's also a widely-respected social media expert who blogs at Occam's RazR.
Without further ado... here's Ike:
PR and the Gray Zone
How do you preach influence and the triumph of the individual when it’s not the individual who is the enemy - it is the crowd! ...
Weblog: Occam's RazR
Tracked: Jul 23, 12:32
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This is indeed brilliant and a brain tease and leaves us once again with no path to action, no clear form of measurement, and nothing we can slap on a monthly status report. It's true that discussions die so quickly on the web - how open and honest can I be if my employer and client are scrutinizing what I say? How can I be sure that what I truly absolutely believe at this moment will not change tomorrow when I am in a different mood, and then I have no opportunity to edit my previous comment? No wonder comments on blogs are declining rapidly. We are frozen by the observers and our own self-judgement. How do you encourage 'the conversation' when you can't get the words out? Clients don't pay us to cogitate and socialize. They pay us to impact decisions that lead to them making money. "Bottom line: Corporate expectations being what they are, some degree of control will remain on the agenda." How true.
Here's another thought. Reading Strumpette I get turned on to Ike Pigott and Occam's Razr. I read his blog. He has a piddling 45 readers, according to his FeedBurner badge. Even I can top that. Yet I read all his posts and comments and it is a revelation, some of the best thinking you will find on communication on the web. Yet Pigott won't rate on Technorati or any other Brainiac 'influence' measurement scheme. This comment by John Wagner on one of Pigott's posts says it all:
"And the experts all said that based on the “conversation,” the SalesGenie Super Bowl ad was the worst.
Yet SalesGenie is pleased as punch because the ad worked, driving people their website and leading to new clients … proving once again that just because a bunch of people have opinions and an Internet link doesn’t make the conversation valuable.
The key is not just participating in the conversation. It’s figuring out who to listen to!"
Interesting read. As with most posts about this topic I find its conclusions incomplete. The same hard work and traditional media relations techniques that have enabled me to earn a living for the past 20 years are as relevent in today's world as they were when I graduated in 1991.
Effective PR is about pressing the flesh and getting to know your targets. Social media makes meeting the influence peddlers easier because there is no formal introductions necessary to particiapte in the discussion. I don't think Social media is a threat to PR, if anything it provides an opportunity to meet and greet more opinion leaders.
In regard to Mr. Heisenberg's "bathing in our own complex streams of radiation," c'mon pally don't take yourself so serious. Its communication, not rocket science. Sender - Channel - Message - Receiver, same as it ever was.
From my beach chair in Sarasota.
Matt Gentile (FloridaMoves.com - Over 375,000 possiblities and over 300 days of sunshine.)
I try to bathe in my own complex streams of radiation at least once a day. Twice, if I am really glowing.
From my chaise on the Puget Sound.
Mark Rose (BrinnonInfo.com - one or two possibilities every other day, raining for the past eight days.)
A couple of thanks are in order:
Thanks to the Strumpette staff for hosting this piece - I hope it inspires communications people to start asking a different breed of question. Thanks also to Mark Rose... can I have that endorsement for my sidebar?
In hindsight, the only change I might make in the piece would involve the title. Deep down, I don't think Social Media is dead at all. I believe there are some hard truths out there about these networks and communities that we haven't begun to describe - and as soon as we do, "big business" will move in willingly where the community will allow. It's just going to be difficult because we are in the test tube contaminating the very culture we're examining.
You can use anything I say for any purpose you wish, except justification to attack a sovereign nation. Thanks for your insights.
I'm one of the 45 piddlin' readers of Ike's blog, and must say that most of the time I learn a whole hell of a lot more than reading Mr. A-lister's blog, which only means Ike's more on aim when it comes to my target.
That aside, I think he brings up a good point: you can rush to meet all of the various groups, but at what point will you be chastised for attempting to 'manipulate' the message? Social media is a instant way to meet people and engage them, but it's also a quick way to be labeled a spammer or spin-meister. It's also damn exhausting to try and be in as many groups as you can find! And when the return on investment is depleted by the groups you're trying to engage, then you are indeed standing there in your underpants.
I'm beginning to wonder if I can keep up with all the Facebooks, Nings, Twitters, LinkedIn's, Powncers and I'm sure the 50 other social media clubs I've failed to join. At some point, the shear number will end the chase. At that point we'd better have some lessons learned to lead us toward an improved PR model that can challenge marketers and advertisers, and keep PR in the business of starting and maintaining the conversation.
Michael, I think we are reaching the saturation point and return on investment in social media is indeed questionable. Jason Calacanis had a freak out this week and declared "Facebook Bankruptcy" - which was countered by Facebook zealot Robert Scoble. I am still looking for a group on Facebook that is worth spending any time in. And all those apps are beginning to bug me, not intrigue me. Is there really PR potential here? I don't see it.