Friday 4-1-1, “PR”/Social Style

Back in Dallas today after a whirlwind tour this week.  From New York, I flew to Detroit for meetings, then finally made my way home last night.  Just in time to see my kids before they went to bed.  I’m such a homebody.  I love being in my home around my family.  My wife and I just sat in silence and talked.  It was nice.

Now, here we go again.  Back at it.  As I’ve said before, the one thing that I don’t like about live-blogging events is that I don’t really get to put my commentary on what I’m hearing.  I sprinkle things in here and there, but for the most part, I haven’t found a way to successfully manage that part of blogging events.  I think there’s a lot of value to get down what others are saying so all of you can get a glimpse into other perspectives.  That’s the primary reason I approach conferences and live blogging the way I do.  Do you find value in that?  I would love to know if I’m off base.

What I want to do for today’s Friday 4-1-1 is take what I heard from the conference and give you my thoughts on some of the things that stuck out to me.  First, as a digital practitioner, most of the “digital” conversation was basic and not new to me.  I really enjoyed hearing different approaches to the “types” of work that we’re faced with on a daily basis – the crisis management session really stuck out to me.  Perhaps it’s because I’ve been dealing with a few clients on this very thing and it’s a type of work that I’ve never done before so it’s just fascinating in general.  But, there were others:

1.  I heard multiple times something along the lines of “merging the offline with the online.”  This, of course, makes my ears perk up because I want to see how other people are thinking about this concept.  It’s clear that people have an intuition that this is becoming more prevalent and possible, but noone talked about any other “screen” than the mobile phone in relation to “walking down the street.”  If we think there is a huge need for education in the “digital signage” industry, I’m here to tell you there is a huge need for education across the board.  Agencies like mine even have a hard time understanding a) what the “new” OOH is and more importantly, b) the potential of it.  Yes, it includes mobile, but it’s much more than mobile.  It’s much more than “digital signage,” too.

2.  I enjoyed hearing much more talk centered around relationships than platforms.  I believe whole-heartedly this is the right way to think about brands touching people.  It’s not so much what brands touch people on (platform or channel), it’s about how they touch people and with what (content).  Brands need to look no further than what’s already happening on each “platform” for how people naturally use them.  The platforms are already being used and used in a way that allow people to connect (in the way they want to connect) with others and build relationships.  If a brand is going to be successful in today’s ecosystem, they (and the agencies that support them) should understand that to be sustainable, you have to focus on the relationship, not the platform.  Same thing with “digital signage” – it’s not about digital signage, it’s about using this technology in a way that it actively builds relationships between brands and consumers.  It’s powerful if used properly and ineffective, just as any other channel, if not.

3.  Today, more than ever before, people/brands/agencies are making things up as they go along.  This is a new era and people have to come to terms with the fact that there might not be any “example” of a particular type of work – social, mobile, and/or OOH.  This is exciting and daunting, for sure.  This makes relationships and trust more important than ever – not only with communities, but between agencies and clients.  It’s important to think things through and do as much due diligence as possible, but in reality, we are (literally) all learning together.  Be smart.  Be brave.

4.  If you want to be successful in “social” – and this is for anyone – brands, businesses, bloggers – don’t make everything entirely about YOU.  It’s not.  You and your contribution are certainly important.  The way that you contribute can make or break you.  It either builds trust or breaks it.  But it’s important to recognize your community.  Think of ways you can do this.  People just want to belong to something, and they’re willing to have brands involved, too.  Just as long as it doesn’t become a selfish act and “pushing” anything in their face.

“Uh-huh” – man, the crisis panel and the make-up of the panelists was the highlight for me.  If you sat in that session, you would have walked out of there learning more in an hour than you might have in a year.  Here are some of the best nuggets that I took away, and they don’t need any additional commentary.  If you’re ever faced with a crisis, read this and follow what speaks to you:

  • If someone asks, “what should my digital crisis management plan be,” your first question back should be – “Do you have a regular crisis management plan?”  The approaches can’t be independent of one another.
  • Brands and detractors have the same tools.  Those detractors are smart and resourceful.
  • If you do not have a social presence and a voice right now, start creating one immediately.
  • Don’t wait for a crisis to start developing relationships.  Again, if you’re not doing this right now, start immediately.
  • There are no “special” crisis tools to use in a crisis.  Use simple, common tools that are at your disposal all the time – search, legal council, email, and your website.
  • When faced with a crisis, remember 2 simple things – 1) overcommunicate and 2) don’t make the problem worse.

“Duh” – I don’t know if anyone else is tired of it, but I’ve just about had enough of all of this social media speak.  I am around it all the time and we always joke about throwing around the buzzwords – engagement, listening, Facebook, Twitter, funnel, interesting intersection – ugh.  I tried to separate myself from my body and “hear” what people were saying to me and I just thought, this is disgusting.  We should ban those words (not just the above, but all of them.  Good resource HERE) forever.  Call me out, too.  It’s easy to get sucked in and start speaking wah, wah, wah, wah, wah.

Enjoy your weekend, everyone!  And thanks for reading!

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