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Brands, relationships and social capital

30 Aug

Today's Observer column by John Naughton contrasts the impatience of the market for immediate returns with the need for a long-term approach to social media engagement. He quotes blogger Michael Foley saying: 

"There are a lot of big brands dedicating resources to social media lately, because it is the new 'bright shiny thing'. I'm worried that these big brands may feel the need to shut down these social media business experiments if they don't see results – meaning big revenue – in time for the next quarterly earnings report.

"It takes time to build relationships and develop trust, especially if you've been neglecting your customers for a long time – and most brands have. They're already suspicious of you because you're selling something. Real relationships aren't built on the salesman's need to move product on deadline. They are built on a mutual exchange of value over time. Don't think of your social media presence as an experiment, but as an investment so that you can obtain social capital in the long term."

White space

3 Aug

Designers are conscious of the value of white space on a page. It seems to me that white space is a universal concept that goes beyond page layout – it's the concept often described as 'less is more'.

  • Novice writers and bloggers often forget to break up long paragraphs. (Look at any newspaper to see how it should be done.) Nothing reveals an amateur more readily than too many words.
  • The conventional two week summer vacation provides white space in busy working and domestic lives (so please turn off your phone and try to avoid the newspapers too).
  • In a busy, noisy world, silence is sometimes the best way to make a loud statement. (Tip: don't raise your voice to quieten a roomful of schoolchildren or students: give them the silent treatment instead. It works.)
  • Don't always assume that exposure is a good thing. Kate Moss doesn't appear in the newspapers any less because she refuses to give interviews. Less is more.
  • How to avoid becoming overstretched by spreading yourself too thinly across social media spaces? Jim Horton recommends focusing on the relationships that matter in his latest white paper.

If Twitter’s the key, what does it unlock?

29 Apr

I can’t quibble with this (except over the capital letters, perhaps):

In the Social Media era, getting better at Public Relations means getting better at the Relationships, not the Publicity.

Todd Defren’s conclusion is more challenging though: Get Into Twitter or Get Outta Public Relations?

But his point is well made. It’s not about the tools (a few years ago it was blogging; then podcasting; last year it was Facebook; this year Twitter); it’s about engaging in the conversations and gaining a licence to join in or to comment.

PR and the digital frontier

10 Apr

I’m looking forward to the next event arranged by the CIPR regional group. Called PR and the digital frontier, it’s on Thursday 1 May at Leeds Metropolitan University.

There are some free places available for students, but you do need to register in advance by emailing Nicky Wake at Don’t Panic Projects (follow the link in the paragraph above for the details).

Authentic marketing and PR

10 Mar

It’s easy to get excited about the ‘new new thing’ and forget that principles don’t change that quickly. So when Anna Farmery described her farming ancestor bringing cattle to market, she said that he would be judged on his reputation. You see, reputation and social networks have always existed.

After a century of mass production supported by mass advertising, we’re returning to a more organic approach to marketing and promotion using social media tools like blogs and podcasts. (To keep the analogy going, some farmers are returning to organic principles in order to capture a more lucrative and sustainable niche. Remember that all farming was once organic so this approach is old, not new.)

One of these organic marketing promotional tools might be podcasting, but it is only a tool, not a strategy.

Most engaging of all, Anna spoke for over 90 minutes with little need for technology. Social media is often merely an attempt to replicate the authentic experience of people talking to people.

And the rise of PR (cont)

6 Mar

Fall_of_advertising_2Though I cited such marketing luminaries as Seth Godin, Philip Kitchen, Philip Kotler and Al Ries, my talk on this well-worn theme still seemed to surprise some MSc Marketing students.

So let’s hear from Sir Martin Sorrell, chief executive of marketing services group WPP, quoted in Media Guardian:

"I can’t recall a time when PR has been as strong," says Sorrell. "Something has changed and the reason for the change is online activity, where personal recommendation and personal communication have become more important. And it’s clearly editorial and it’s clearly not advertising based."

He came, he saw, he Googled

16 Oct

I was sitting next to Philip Young at last night’s guest lecture – and admiring his shorthand. I somehow felt absolved from making notes and following up with cogent observations, confident that this would be done by someone sensible. He hasn’t disappointed.

Philip from Sunderland and John Hitchins from Marjon in Plymouth had travelled to Leeds to discuss plans for Behind the Spin. More news on this to follow soon.