Six Ways to Innovate: Or Why I Became a Principal and CEO of a Social Media Agency
By Don Middleberg, CEO, Middleberg Communications
First the news: In addition to my role as CEO here I have become a principal and the CEO of Laundry Service, a social media agency. Why? Because I am absolutely convinced that Public Relations is now inexorably linked to social media and content creation. I have felt this way only once before and that was about the Internet. I now feel the same sense of excitement and urgency, and with the same conviction.
Roughly twenty years ago, I told everyone and anyone that PR programs had to include Internet based communications. I totally dedicated my PR agency in that direction. It turned out to be the absolutely right move for our clients and for my agency. Today I feel the exact same way about social media. It is no longer good enough to simply help place client news in print and broadcast media. Communications now must encompass the tools of social media—to create exciting content covering video, infographics, games, blogs and mobile apps. All managed within the social media platforms that allow marketers and companies to reach and motivate their constituencies in new and exciting ways.
So we are in a new age of communications. One in which PR and social media must now be part of all communications programs. While many advertising and PR agencies say they have a social media capability, it is usually not a core competency. Few firms in the nation have the chops to do both public relations and social media really well and even fewer have the strategic skill and experience to create fully integrated communications programs the way we can.
In this new era, it is imperative to provide clients with communications programming that offers the very best of social media, public relations and interactive services to help companies build their brands and grow their business.
Below are a few tips on how to stay innovative in PR:
- Establish an influencer program. There is no better way to spread your client’s message than to do so through the most influential people in their industry. Do the research, find these folks online, follow them on Twitter, read their blogs and understand how they like to communicate. Forge relationships with them through exclusive opportunities, by sharing thought leadership platforms and simply talking shop.
- Make sure the CEO is on social media. According to a recent survey conducted by BRANDfog, “74% of respondents are more likely to buy from a company whose values are clearly defined through CEO social media participation.”
- Merchandize articles via social media. It’s no longer enough to secure a top-tier press placement. Today, you must share that article on social media sites – tag your client and share the content with the public.
- Understand newsjacking vs. context. In PR, it’s called real-time newsjacking. In social media, it’s called context – both offer immense value. News is breaking 24 hours a day in real time and there are conversations around it. Sites like Twitter make it simple to monitor the news around the clock – especially when reporters are breaking stories or looking for expert commentary in real time. If everyone is talking about something, you should be talking about it, too. If #Tebow is trending, post a photo of your office Tebowing. Better yet – have a Tebowing photo contest online as we did – it generated 20K impressions for our company in 72 hours!
- Establish relationships with the press via social media. Reporters are constantly interacting on sites like Twitter and LinkedIn [Facebook “friending” is a no-no]. Send a friendly tweet to a reporter you’ve been trying to connect with to no avail. Don’t just pitch them. Talk with them. Once you establish a relationship, then you can move the conversation to phone and email.
- Create video content. By incorporating video content, you have complete control over your message. These videos can be linked to websites and social media pages, and are easy to share with media. Video content is the best way to establish an emotional connection with between your audiences and your brand/organization.
Don Middleberg is regarded as one of the nation’s leading public relations executives. He is widely acknowledged for his pioneering research on how journalists use technology and social media. Middleberg is the author of “Winning PR In The Wired World” (McGraw-Hill), one of the bestsellers in the history of public relations and printed in six languages. He is also co-author, first with professor Steven Ross of the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism and more recently with the Society of New Communications Research, of one of the largest annual survey of journalists in the world. Examining journalists’ use of digital communications and social media in the performance of their work, this study is recognized as the definitive work of its kind and its findings have been integrated into the curricula at major universities throughout the U.S. He holds a bachelor’s degree in economics and an MBA in marketing. Follow Middleberg on Twitter: @MiddlebergPR.
Published: May 16, 2012 By: