This is an archived blog from when I ran Conscious Public Relations Inc. from 2008-2018. Excuse the potential outdated-ness!

A few weeks ago, I attended a Canadian PR Society Vancouver event which hosted Mat Wilcox as the speaker. It was a huge wake up call for us, as Wilcox announced closing down her firm after 15 successful years in Public Relations, namely the Crisis Communication field. Social media played a big factor in it, as most of the media reported, but it wasn’t just social media – moreso the signs of a new wave of Communications to come that many of us aren’t ready for, much like how animals run inland before the onslaught of a tsunami. Social media is the symptom; the integration of online communication tools to traditional PR campaigns is the evolution.

Many people ask me if I offer social media as part of my services. The answer I give is that I don’t do campaigns, but that I could consult on the basic use of the typical social networks, by the hour. (*Update: I know run social media campaigns.) Without charging, I’ve even been Tweeting and Facebook posting most of my clients’ news since last year. But soon, doing traditional media relations won’t be good enough. While I have time to contemplate how my business offerings are going to change in the future, I’ve finished reading PR 2.0 by American Communications Director Deirdre Breakenridge, who wrote the book on “New Media, New Tools, New Audiences” back in 2008.

The latter half of the book was more powerful for me after I’d attended the CPRS event. It’s on wrapping up the PR 2.0 tools and the need to come up with a plan to do a campaign. The rest of the book was a bit dry, but it’s a how-to on all of the available tools and how to use them in a PR campaign. Twitter is barely mentioned; it was new when Breakenridge was writing the book, but if she were to do another edition you can bet Twitter would have its own chapter. (Update: She has written an updated book called PR 2.0 Is Here.)

Some of the new info I (re-)learned despite the book being 3 years out of date:

  • Good PR starts with research. Using a research program can cost $10K annually. Media monitoring is next after that. (Wilcox recommends hiring someone to do pure research. And another just to focus on data reporting.)
  • The news/media/press release is to become the social media release, which will include RSS, Technorati tags, and links to photos, bios, whitepapers, podcasts, and videos. I’m still against using releases altogether, though I agree that photos, videos, websites, and social network accounts need to be within reach. RSS is an interesting concept, though I see enough Canadian media so bothered by improper releases that I honestly don’t know if they would care to subscribe to company news.
  • Media aren’t just the receivers of info; the customer is now. So make the presentation of information relevant to them.

Finally, I’ll end off with a few powerful quotes from the book, some of which were inspired by a conversation with 2.0 innovator Brian Solis:

“…it’s today’s consumer who controls the brand.”

“As much as PR people are the middlemen, it appears that with PR 2.0 and social media, there’s less of a role as middleman.” (That’s right… no more $5-10K contracts/month to huge PR firms! Hoorah for the indie consultant!)

“[Solis] believes that when companies decide to go direct-to-consumer, they often have trouble figuring out which niches are right for them. The many different Web communities today make it more difficult.” (Identifies the need to hire someone outside of your own company to see from the outside what’s going on and how your brand is being perceived.)

“If people in their Web communities are craving information a certain way, it’s not for professionals to ignore or deny these requests.”

“So, as a communications professional you need to inform your brands that it’s time to evolve, be flexible, and deliver information in a way that can be gathered, organized, and shared in Web communities.”

If you’re a company, what changes, if any, do you think you’ll be making in your Communications staff plan or strategy? If you’re a PR consultant or business owner, what changes do you have in store to ride the wave of 2.0?

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