Times are changing. Gone are the good old days when PR professionals had the luxury of drafting a press release around product launches or company news, providing byline articles and pushing out pitch ideas. Don’t get me wrong. Those things are still relevant, but for many, PR is still about how to provide content for reporters to repost or write a story based around a good pitch. Today, however, there is much more to it than that.
I recently spoke at an event sponsored by Business Wire where I had the pleasure of sharing the panel with several Phoenix reporters on how to pitch to reporters using social media. And while social media can be a great tool for connecting with reporters, today it’s much more than that – and it’s becoming critical in the way we manage our brand and media relations efforts. PR professionals whose job functions involve media relations must learn the rules of real-time PR. The new face of media relations requires even more speed and agility to seize market opportunities, real-time engagement and creative out-of-the-box approaches to become the first market mover.
Speed and Agility Win
In his soon-to-be-published book Real-Time Marketing and PR, David Meerman Scott wrote, “In the emerging real-time business environment, where public discourse is no longer dictated by the mass media, size is no longer a decisive advantage. Speed and agility win.”
Whether we’re an agency or in-house PR, we have to understand how to establish a competitive advantage if we are to truly win in today’s world. No longer should we be confined to traditional methods of PR or media relations, but instead, we must understand the world of the social Web. This is where listening and monitoring are so important. I hear so many PR pros say they are monitoring, but without understanding how to quickly respond with even more speed to the conversations, our efforts will fall by the wayside.
One clear example outlined by Meerman Scott is the famous YouTube sensation, “United Breaks Guitars,” where Canadian singer-songwriter David Carroll crafted a song about his experience with United Airlines and posted it to YouTube. The video hit 2M views in less than a month. Where speed and agility mattered was United Airlines’ ability to quickly respond to this video post in a timely fashion through real-time monitoring and participation. Sometimes having to say you’re sorry and providing your community with some insight into how you’re going to do a better job with your customer service is a great start. It humanizes your brand and let’s people know that you’re listening and fixing the issue at hand.
Seize Real-Time Opportunity
The maker of Dave’s guitar, Taylor Guitars, wasted no time in seizing real-time market opportunity to build goodwill with customers. In Meerman Scott’s book, his example outlines how within days of Dave’s YouTube post, Bob Taylor, the company’s president, created his own video around how traveling musicians can package their equipment and follow airline rules to better protect their guitars.
Today, with so much information out there, it can feel like we’re drinking from a fire hydrant. This is where PR pros should think of ways to seize real-time opportunities by getting creative — not just writing a byline article and pushing it out – which takes time and could potentially be dated by the time it’s released. It’s about real-time response to trends, challenges and issues that are happening right before our eyes. To take advantage and capture your audience, think creatively by videos or funny cartoons around best practices or how-tos and posting to your blog or pushing it out via social channels. A media alert can always come later where you package up all the information and publish it.
Real-Time Market Engagement
Speed and agility can’t go very far without engagement. While millions of people were tuning in to view Dave’s YouTube video, United didn’t seize the opportunity to respond and engage with its potential community of reporters, prospects, customers and bloggers. While Twitter and Facebook were all abuzz, the company did absolutely nothing to participate in the conversation. As one of the largest players in the airline industry — one that spends billions on advertising, PR and marketing — the company went silent. This lack of response showed a lack of customer commitment or the know-how to engage in today’s conversation. Meerman Scott writes: “United Airlines exhibited a paralysis in the face of a snowballing crisis. In the battle between the small, speedy and agile players and the slow, clumsy giant, I see prima-facie evidence that a revolution has indeed been set in motion.”
Whether you are a small company or a giant organization such as United Airlines, today it’s about having a dialogue — whether you like it not — because conversations will go on with or without you. The decision to participate and engage in real-time will make the difference between relevance and irrelevance. PR is not just about media relations anymore — it’s about wearing your customer support hat and engaging with real people online. This will further help you humanize your brand. It also sends a clear message to the online community — that your brand is actively listening, monitoring and engaging because you care about what people are saying, thinking, and doing in the market.
Meerman Scott sent me this quote via Twitter: “Social media are tools, Real-Time is a mindset.” You can have all the tools in the world – but if your organization lacks the will, speed and agility to engage in real-time, those tools become meaningless. It’s about empowering the people to harness the power of the social Web to listen, monitor, connect and engage through innovative means.
Click on Real-Time Marketing and PR for a sneak peek at Meerman Scott’s soon to be published book.
About David Meerman Scott
David Meerman Scott’s book The New Rules of Marketing & PR opened people’s eyes to the new realities of marketing and public relations on the Web. Six months on the BusinessWeek bestseller list and published in 26 languages from Bulgarian to Vietnamese, New Rules is now a modern business classic. Scott’s popular blog and hundreds of speaking engagements around the world give him a singular perspective on how businesses are implementing new strategies to reach buyers.
He is also the co-author (with Brian Halligan) of the hit book Marketing Lessons from the Grateful Dead: What Every Business Can Learn from the Most Iconic Band in History and wrote three other books including World Wide Rave.
His Web Ink Now blog is ranked by AdAge Power 150 as a top worldwide marketing blog.