We hear the horror stories of fake blogs, spam pitches and general ignorance of the social media community by PR practitioners who leap into the online space without first understanding what it is and why itâ€™s different. David will talk about how Hill & Knowlton approaches the online space and how itâ€™s incorporated into virtually every PR program they execute on behalf of companies like HP, Motorola, Bayer and Molson. [ThirdTuesday]
I’m lucky to have been pitched by several great PR and marketing firms and professionals, and I’ve written my share of proposals. Within this month alone I have worked with the fine folks at Zipcar for National Digital Media Day, DreamBank for the Blog World Expo and I have ongoing partnerships with organizations like Fitness World, which is keeping me healthy over the next year.
David now takes the stage here at The Network Hub, he’s actually one of the founding members from the early days of Third Tuesdays in Toronto. He’ll be talking about the role of a PR firm and how it works with social me, “what they’re doing, how they’re doing it, and who they’re doing it for.”
David takes a poll to find out how many PR people are in the room (and how many people in the room fear PR people) and then gives a quick background on Hill and Knowlton. Their digital hubs are Ottawa and Toronto although they have offices in Calgary and Vancouver as well. They really want to ensure their staff know how to use social media the right way and try to do more than simply have the “Hey the cool kids love the blogs, let’s start a blog,” mentality.
“The key is continual learning,” David notes, saying that a big part of keeping the company going in the right track (and keeping them off the blacklists) is sharing. “We’re real students of this space.”
“Clients get the shiny object syndrome,” asking the PR firm to get them going with the latest trends not knowing what they need to do to keep up with the buzz word of the day on the web. David says they try to use the MAIL system: Monitor, Analyze, Interact, Lead.
“What is my interaction strategy going to be with all of these bloggers out there?” is a question clients would need to answer or the PR firm would help them address along with how to get started and who is going to write or publish what.
Question from the group: How do you share information with your teams across the nation?
David says their digital list of team members is very broad and they’re are all tapped into different arenas. When it comes to tools they do that more on a face to face level with meetings otherwise emails are key for communication. From the sounds of it, David’s team is also on top of what’s going on in the blogosphere (with feed readers etc.) as he mentioned just recently reading a blog post about how PR firms are obsolete in this digital age. He says that’s something they love to find and address.
Question from the group: Do you get your clients setup with video?
David says clients haven’t gone into the video realm although they have had some dabble with the “viral” realm. He notes that it also takes more time for production (which I can attest to… show notes, recording, encoding, down mixing, releasing/publishing, then writing the blog post etc… whew!). People are also trying to find out how to make money off video, aside from simply having floating ads (on a personal/solo level). David says that they recommend all of these extra tools to their clients (Flickr, Twitter, video etc.) however many of them have these systems blocked from their offices so it’s not effective all the time.
Authenticity and transparency is the key, if you can’t commit to it, then assign someone to do it or drop it.” David drives home the point that blogs should be authentic and real. If you have someone writing the CEO’s blog no one’s going to read it once it’s found out – it becomes a mockery.
“People sometimes equate ghost blogging to speech writing, but will that work in the blogging space in the future?”
I’d like to take the opportunity to note that there is a growing freelance blogging market where good folks, such as yours truly, will write your blog for you. Yes, I will write your blog for you. Contact me at sixty4media to discuss. (end shameless plug)
Question from the group: What’s the difference between PR and advertising?
David says that PR is more about relationships, getting editorial coverage, “it’s more about the story than about the sell – and trying to get the credibility that it takes for a journalist to write about you as opposed to paying for a spot on TV or in the paper.”
What David and his company do for their clients, when it comes to bloggers etc. is “digital engagement” and they also provide “social media immersion” for their clients. “It’s really fun to work with a client that gets it.”
Their current client roster for digital engagement includes Motorola, Intel, Molson, Overlay (who now hosts social media breakfasts in Ottawa), and others that they help with “blogger outreach.” I’m reminded of my panel on Blogger Relations from Convergence 2008… and also of my Matchstick FTL post (although they’ve been very good to me lately).
“We do a lot of figuring out the effect of social media on crisis communication,” says David with regards to the services of H and K. “There is news gathering all the time,” for example David mentions the propane explosion in Toronto this summer, “people run the other way but the bloggers run toward it with their cell phone cameras.” He gave an example and I’m pretty sure he was talking about Rannie.
David just called me out saying that if you pitch certain bloggers but not others they’re going to complain, or if the bloggers get pitched too much, they’ll complain so it’s a fine line. This was in reference to Duane’s post about Brew 2.0 on which I commented that I was not invited (at that time). The comment was of a personal nature, directed at one of my best friends. Also, when my husband gets invited to an event (blog related or not) I will probably comment on the situation or ask if I can be his plus one, which I did in this case. Anyway, you’ll notice my comment on Duane’s site has now been removed and I’m going to the event (which is good because aside from Molson, I’m the #1 ranked blog on Google for “Brew 2.0”).
Moving on, regarding the “social media press release” David thinks that they are good for being “media centres” but cannot really be compared to blog since there’s a lack of interaction, comments etc.
David: “No corporate blog should be on Blogger,” AMEN! You should own you blog, do it right.
Question from the group (from Gus, actually): How do you monitor multiple languages?
David says that they’ll just use Google blog search to start, it’s actually really hard and time consuming. However, there is the Technorati or Tech Crunch of Spanish-speaking blogs and other similar sites. “It can be done, it’s just a bit of trial and error.”
How David’s company monitors traffic: Google Blog Search, Google News, Technorati (when it’s working), RSS subscribers, “there’s no magic bullet… …but I just use the free tools mostly, they haven’t let me down.”
Implementing social media strategies are an ongoing struggle within corporations – who will write it, how will it pay off etc.
Things are winding down and I’m able to look up and see who is standing around the room (yes, standing room only right now). Rastin, Pete, Larry, Tris, (to name a few) and I have to remember to say hi to Monica once I’m done typing since I missed the opportunity earlier in the evening.
Finale note: As Mr Gay Canada is coming to Vancouver (and Whistler), two tickets were just donated and Raul won them! We’re all heading down to Century now for some refreshments. Thanks everyone!