This interview was recently published by The Center for Sustainable Journalism, and readers of this blog can join me at the upcoming Social Media Integration Conference for 20% off the early bird rates! See below for details.
Center for Sustainable Journalism: What does social media outreach have in common with traditional PR, and how does it differ?
Kellye Crane: Public relations has always been about communicating with your publics, and social media has opened up unprecedented opportunities for organizations to speak directly with their communities. PR’s traditional role of sharing information has gotten much easier, since there are fewer editorial gatekeepers now that people are consuming more of their information online.
What has changed with the advent of social media is the ease with which the community can talk back (and among themselves) in larger numbers in a public way. This means that monitoring and listening to social channels is key, but it’s also critical to take the next step and engage. PR professionals already understand the importance of communicating both in the good times and during crises, so social media integrates well into much of what we’re already doing.
CSJ: In your work with clients, what steps have you taken to help them reach audiences online?
KC: The real opportunity lies in taking your happy customers and turning them into advocates on your behalf. Research has shown that people trust recommendations from other “real people” much more than information from the company itself. The fact that PR can help shine a light on these evangelists and help them find ways to spread their message is an exciting extension of the long-used “customer story.” But the most important way to reach your audience online is to interact with them where they are, and do so in a respectful and appreciative way. It sounds simple, but it works.
CSJ: How do you evaluate whether or not your efforts are paying off?
KC: Like anything in PR, social media efforts must start with a goal – what are you trying to accomplish? Once you’re clear on why you’re interested in using social media in the first place, establish measurable objectives that can be integrated into your larger PR plan. Fellow speaker Olivier Blanchard is an authority on social media measurement, and I’m looking forward to his presentation at the event.
CSJ: What are the top two or three technologies have you found most valuable in engaging audiences online?
KC: I think it’s easy for PR people who haven’t worked much with social media to get too hung up on the technologies and the tools. Whether you’re considering tapping into Twitter, blogs, Facebook, YouTube, or something else, it’s important to go where your customers already are – and that will differ by client/organization. Forrester offers excellent research data (as well as its Consumer Profile Tool) online for free to help you learn how your target market is likely using social media.
CSJ: What technological tools or developments are you most looking forward to in the coming year?
KC: Recent announcements in the social media monitoring and analytics space show promise that perhaps we’re moving into a new era for the tools used in measuring social media results. Right now, it can be labor-intensive and frustrating to cobble together a variety of these tools in order to get the complete picture. We’re seeing some innovation in this area that will hopefully continue so that more complete, end-to-end solutions will someday be available at a price point most businesses can afford.
On October 22-23, 2010, the Center for Sustainable Journalism will host the
Social Media Integration Conference. With in-depth bootcamps and tutorials, this conference focuses directly on one of the top challenges facing professionals and business owners today: integrating social media strategies across interactive, public relations and other marketing programs.
Other speakers include Shiv Singh of Pepsi, Olivier Blanchard of The Brand Builder, Marla Erwin of Whole Foods, and many more. Just use my name (“Kellye Crane”) in the promo code field to receive an additional 20% off even the early bird rate – feel free to share this code with your networks!