Read an Excerpt
IntroductionIntroduction Social Media = The Reinvention of Public Relations
Public Relations as we know it is quickly changing. Many tried-and-true PR strategies that we know and rely on are becoming ineffective and irrelevant. We can no longer trust them to effectively reach and motivate today’s influencers.
The Web has changed everything. And the Social Web is empowering a new class of authoritative voices that we cannot ignore.
This rising group includes (and is being led by) people just like you. User-generated content (UGC) has flipped traditional PR and media on its head, leaving many communications professionals and journalists dazed and confused. They wonder why everything is changing so suddenly, seemingly overnight. However, these changes do not really represent “new” concepts. The “sudden” shift has actually been more than ten years in the making.
Social Media and Web 2.0 are altering the entire media landscape, placing the power of influence in the hands of regular people with expertise, opinions, and the drive and passion to share those opinions. This people-powered content evolution augments instead of replaces traditional media and expert influence. And in the process, entirely new layers of top-down and bottom-up influence have been created. These layers dramatically expand the number of information channels (one-to-one, one-to-many, and many-to-many).
Traditional influence flowed from a news or information gatherer (for example, a journalist) to his or her audience. Blogs, social networks, online forums, and other forms of Social Media have changed the dynamics of influence. New information is now readily shared among peers. This peer-to-peer sharing—in which you, personally, and as a client representative participate—now affords communications professionals the opportunity to reach beyond their “A-list” media when telling their story. We can now also reach the “magic middle,” that group of ideal customers who directly reach their peers through Social Media channels. As you’ll learn throughout this book, the participant’s story replaces the pushed messages of the past, now tailored for specific audiences; Social Media requires that we “share” stories that benefit all those engaged in the process by first learning what they’re specifically looking for.
Monologue has changed to dialogue, bringing a new era of Public Relations. It’s no longer about traditional media and analysts. PR must now also focus on the very people it wants to reach.
- Everything is changing, and (in our opinion) it’s for the better.
- People are blogging.
- Journalists are becoming bloggers.
- The masses are creating and sharing content via social networks.
Bloggers are gaining recognition as industry authorities, earning the same (and sometimes more) respect and reach as traditional media (and sometimes surpassing it).
PR veterans are suddenly finding themselves searching for guidance and answers as everything they know is changing right before their eyes. A new, hybrid breed of Web-savvy communications professionals is emerging, and companies and agencies are actively seeking these new experts to effectively compete, now and in the future.
These highly sought-after New Media PR practitioners include those who blog, run a podcast or video show, communicate in popular micromedia networks such as Twitter, create profiles across several social networks and actively cultivate their social graph, customize pages with an understanding of “lite” HTML, and participate in the communities that are important to them (whether professionally or personally). Genuine experience is the desired commodity, not just a willingness to venture into new marketing channels just because you have no other choice.
Therefore, it’s time to engage.
Don’t worry, though. It’s not too late to join and help guide the PR renaissance. You’re reading this book, so you already have a head start. The principles driving the New PR movement are not foreign; they’re deeply rooted in customer service, the social sciences, and community participation. When you look at it from the perspective of an ordinary person and not a marketer, you’ll quickly realize that you already have experience as a consumer—one who makes purchases and advises others about their purchases. You have what you need to start the change from within.
We’re writing this book for you.
Social Media will help us put the public back into Public Relations. With that in mind, we encourage you to jump in, but also to understand the dynamics of Social Media, the new world of influence, and the relevant tools necessary for successful participation. Our goal with this book is to make you Social Media literate and to start you down the path of becoming a New Media expert and, more important, a champion for change. We believe that this book will help you excel in your marketing career and give you the capability and confidence to help those around you, including the company you represent.
This book lays out the lessons you need to learn, direct from our experiences over this past decade of continuous evolution. The information (and, we hope, wisdom) included in this book comes from more than just our personal experiences. We have included insight from some of the most visionary, brilliant, and active authorities on the subject of PR and the socialization of media. We believe that these insights will help you understand New PR and encourage you to adapt your own professional practices to our new reality.
We all learn from one another.
“There will be two kinds of PR professionals in the future: those who read this book and get with the program, and the unemployed. Your choice.”
—Seth Godin, Author of Tribes
“I am thrilled that there is finally a book about the right way to approach PR in today’s world, where hyper-connected conversations trump the old school broadcast mentality. Everyone who wants to build a career in PR or marketing should read this book.”
—Tony Hsieh, CEO, Zappos.com
“Putting the Public Back in Public Relations is a passionate and persuasive case for rewriting the rules of public relations. Authors Solis and Breakenridge expertly combine third-party perspective with case studies and examples to paint a picture of a profession on the brink of reinvention.”
—Paul Gillin, Author, The New Influencers and Secrets of Social Media Marketing
“Putting the Public Back in Public Relations is an excellent read. It is the right book at the right time, explaining the reinvention of Public Relations at the hands of Social Media. A must read for those innovative marketers charged with creating differentiation in today’s competitive marketplace.”
—Trish Piontek, Director, Retail Marketing, Amerisource Bergen Corporation
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