I had a really interesting time on the panel for a PRiNZ Event last night. We were discussing the challenges and opportunities in social media for marketing and PR, and what PR professionals can do to participate. One could easily just laugh off the efforts of corporates and PR professionals trying to monetize social media. I’m a lot more sanguine. Like it or not, wherever people are talking about brands online, PR will be in there seeking to control the message.
Tim Nichols from 2Degrees talked about their strategy, commenting on the fact that they are rooted in social media, living and dying by the sword. One comment resonated with me: he said that they have “set up camp” on Twitter and Facebook. Marketers see social media as alien and perhaps even hostile, so setting up camp is a nice metaphor. They’re in there early and often, learning the language and meeting the locals. They still risk a backlash and eviction, but the chances are hugely reduced by their authentic and thorough participation.
On the other hand, you have your streakers. Marketing and PR experts preparing their strategy outside the territory, making a master plan like mini-generals. Then they drop their trousers and go charging right through the middle of the game.
Sure, at best you’re going to get some attention. People will point and laugh (some might appreciate your assets). At worst you’re going to raise the ire of a crowd of angry natives, seeking to skin you alive.
I wish I could have explained this better last night, but here’s what I’m saying to PR and marketing types seeking to understand social media: don’t be a streaker. Instead, sit with the crowd for a bit. Listen, cheer, chat about that great defence by McCaw, or wicked googly by Warney.
Then maybe you can tell the guys sitting nearby about your great brand experience, and watch the message propagate like a Mexican wave.