First I said this, then, I said this. Now, this:
If you’ve arrived at reading my blog for the first time, or the first time this week, then you’ve come in the middle of a discussion on what I’m currently calling New PR, probably until a far buzzier word gets made up. This diagram above is how I see New PR working in 2010. Let me explain.
Metrics: Spreadability and Relevance
We all know that word of mouth is a not a marketing technique, because you can’t create it. You can only create the environment for it – by giving words for mouth, making something remarkable, etc. Spreadability therefore replaces reach, because as the volume of channels increase, the volume per channel decreases, and we therefore need more than ‘reach’ in a channel at one given time, we need spreadability over time and across channels. In many ways, this is value over volume.
Relevance is the difference between personal relationship and public relations. The former is dynamic (as per yesterday’s post), the latter is static. The former is homemade, the latter is manufactured, or factory made. What this also means is public relations is mass distribution, whereas personal relationship gains uniqueness through mass customisation – by being personal, it is unique and not one-size-fits-all.
Two Sides Of The Same Triangle
We don’t want to sacrifice the old wine for the new (again, see yesterday). We want to preserve static, whilst adopting dynamic.
The right side of the triangle is traditional public relations – it is centrally governed. This means the message is sent out via a press release, onto TV, onto radio, but at every point the message is governed, entrusted to editors, camera men and reporters to use what has been provided, make their edit, and then we approve. In TV, for instance – and I have been on the TV sets – everything is checked to ensure it is in line with the message, i.e. governed.
The left side of the triangle is personal relationship, which is centrally guided. The message is put out, but all along the way, like a chinese whisper, the message is adapted, changed, retold, updated, and a whole host of other synonymous activity. This change is guided, not governed. You cannot control it, only guide it. Therefore the ability for the message to preserve its original intention is determined by how clear the message is. Continually, the conversation is guided through the beauty of realtime media. But note again, it is guided, not governed. Think: retweeting, posting on walls, reblogging, trackbacks, pings, etc – all of this is adaptation of the message.
Working The Triangle
By the very nature of governance (the right side), the message is restricted to safe and controllable channels. This is a hands on approach. Take TV as an example. The production team produce something that is within the guidelines, according to a script, with roles that are cast. The programme is televised on a fixed channel that can’t be shared or retweeted, commented on, except when the programme is discussed using those digital forums, or even through a ‘did you see this last night’ conversation. But none of this is real time – production, airing, and review are all asynchronous.
This form – traditional TV – as far as I am concerned, is the most spreadable static medium because of widespread adoption – i.e., who doesn’t own a TV. No static medium has more spread, and in order to gain more spread, TV has to become more dynamic, hence this capped corner in the triangle.
TV that is aired live, with phone in interviews, etc, begins to move from the static to the dynamic – such as reality TV that envoke mass public hysteria and text-votes. However, even then, to see the programme one must be watching their TV device, and that particular TV channel – at the exclusion of other TV channels being watching simultaneously.
TV has now gain increased spreadability by becoming more dynamic and personal through the likes of YouTube and the iPlayer. It breaks the governance of channel, device and time by becoming on-demand. Better yet, the spreadability of YouTube through the left-hand channels of Facebook, Twitter and email enables the programme to swiftly move past thousands, millions, and hundreds of millions of eyes, as in the case of Susan Boyle and all the others. No surprise that the news today, then, from Brand Republic is online spending is now greater than traditional TV spending.
In order to progress up the left side – centrally guided – one must take a hands off approach and allow users to edit, adapt, mash and spread the message through the channels and in the methods that they please. You simply cannot have your hands on the message. As long as you do, it is yours, and it can’t become personal to the user, and homemade. To be personal to another, you must give it, or share it at least. The reward is far larger spreadability because the message has become personal, not public – this of course is basic community building, where the cause has to become personal to the individual – they have to make it theirs.
Taking Your Hands Off
How does the New PR consultant, who desires to guide personal relationship (not govern public relations) do this? In fact, take a step back – how does the company / brand / business muster the courage to relinquish their governance, in the fear of mis-guided efforts? This article on Social Media Today lists the Top Six Reasons Companies Are Still Scared Of Social Media – a pertinent reminder of what the fears are. However, when I talked through the social media strategy that the board of a charity had paid me to lead, I found the same fears. It was both interesting and striking to see how many of their concerns were either ignorance, or imaging worst case scenarios. Petty things like ‘Can we moderate comments’, were both almost insulting and hilarious – ‘Of course?!?!’ was my response.
Our aim then must be to remove ignorance, and prove the rarity of worst case scenario by proving the abundance of good and even great scenarios.
Having worked through those fears and tried to think it through from the other side, I’ve worked on a framework that can be reproduced for yourselves or your clients. As with the above model, this is a draft, so feedback is appreciated.
- Voice. Establish the core of your message, and in turn, your market differentiation. This is pretty much a branding concern. This must be potent to your audience, and your voice strong enough to be heard even when others have mashed your message up. However your message may be edited, adapted and redistributed along the left side, your voice is still heard because it is that distinguishable to your audience.
- Listen. This helps you identify the advocates who will help spread the message, as well as identify the needs of the market, enabling to you to build a far more accurate:
- PRE. All copy, images, tweets, comments, blogs, discussions must be personal, relational, and show your expertise in your market. This means, practically, that you create a 140 character PRE bio. You have a PRE paragraph, PRE about copy, a PRE avatar, and a full understanding of PRE is to your market, written down, for those who are later going to PRE tweet.
PRE will also determine what is Not-PRE – the non negotiable things that you do not do, based on impressions that you do not want to create.
- Multi-touch strategy. ‘Users are stupid’ is a useful thought to keep in mind (no offence, BTW). They use odd search queries, they often don’t think with initiative, so a multi-touch strategy takes your message to them, or at least has your message in the place that they will find it. Practically, it means creating a Facebook page/event/group, LinkedIn company/event/group, Twitter account (keep it PRE – a person, not a business), having a blog that has share buttons, etc. These must all be synchronised – use Facebook notes to import your blog, use Twitterfeed or Twitter Tools for blog to Tweet publishing, etc. These also build better SEO.
All these social media outposts (thanks, Chris Brogan), use the 140 PRE bio, the PRE paragraph, the PRE avatar. And again – use personal names who represent the company or brand.
- Multi-sense strategy. Different people have different prominent sense. Therefore you need video, audio, micro-media, blogging, events, and yes, press releases. All your social media outposts above should clearly link to all your content, making it simple for anyone to access anything you are producing, from any channel that they access it. Easily said and very obvious, but seldom done right.
PAUSE. Up until this point, this is already performed, in large or in small, by existing marketers, PR consultants, etc. Setting this up should therefore be easy, as you are working with what is mostly already existing content, but re-expressing it through PRE. Therefore, this is still somewhat goverened as opposed to guided.
What comes after here is guidance. In the same way paid production staff, under an employed director, edit and produce governed content that is ‘signed off’, guided content is mashed up by unpaid users, under an influential socialiser, and the content is ‘handed off’.
New PR creates the role, not of consultant, advisor or ‘contact’, but the role of a socialiser, who here after guides personal relationship. So;
- Inject and Infect. I completely agree with Seth Godin’s Idea Virus and I’ve successfully used it for years. Here you must inject your ‘idea virus’ (the message) into sneezers (advocates) who infect whole hives of people on your behalf. You have to know who the opinion leaders are, and infect them first. They will then do a bulk of your marketing work for you due to the influence they have.
- Add. As everyone mashes up your content and message, the best thing you can do is add to it, not subtract. The socialiser guides the spreading by adding value through PRE.
- Escalate by Sharing Your Voice. As new mashups, and new influencers come to the fore, you must escalate the level of relationship with these influencers, and also escalate the mashups by linking to them on your blog. You must share your voice with those who identify with it in return for their support. Remember, these are the people that are informing others’ with their reviews and opinions.
These people are easily identifiable: they comment, they retweet, they blog, they use your language, they initiate contact.
- Measure. It is too easy for social media, and will be even easier with its successors, to lose track of time and not measure your effectiveness. Combat this by measuring social media return on investment and measuring your metrics bi-weekly. To learn how to do this, visit Olivier Blanchard‘s http://smroi.net, or attend Like Minds next month.
- Review, Adapt, Extend. Adaptation happens almost daily, but you must also adapt and extend your strategy from a higher level than the way you write your tweets. This reviewing looks at new markets, new channels, new methods, and even changing this framework.
How To Get The Boss Or Client To Go With It
If you are either a social media savvy person in an organisation, or an agency trying to get clients to look at social media, then my advice is thus: Use a small, containable project, and ask for a small part of the research and development budget, to use the above to create a proof of concept. Document it fully, review each step and then provide a review to the powers that be on the return on investment.
Its taken me a long time to thinking this through, develop a diagram, and write it up – and I’m fully aware that this is not comprehensive, has holes, and needs to be reworked. Leave your comments, please, as I’m very interested to know what ya’ll think.
Now, with all that thinking and writing, it’s time for lunch.