Panel 1 – Digital PR Summit – Creating the Digital PR Dream Team

Panel #1 of the day at the Digital PR Next Practices Summit – IMO, the best part is the questions at the end!

Creating the Digital PR Dream Team – Mary Henige (GM), Lee Mikles (Archer Group), Holly Potter (Kaiser Permanente)

Mary – (yes, this is one of my clients) – she showed their org chart – Communications surrounding by Marketing

From her perspective, on the Communications team, it’s important to hire marketers.  Need to think like a marketer.  Important that Marketing doesn’t see Communications as the enemy.

Also have graphic designer, who is really important because he/team can create things and talk the talk.

Lee – I think he said they don’t hire interns for community management (“Twitern”) (mic is way down right now) – it’s a temptation b/c they understand social media, and they’re low cost, but they don’t understand your brand intimately.  It creates problems.

The A-Team:  The Digital Genius, The Content Creators, The Listener, The Law

Difference between social networking and traditional communciations – you don’t have the time to craft a perfect response.

Don’t yell – you have to have a voice that’s consistent with your brand.

Your team is not an island – need to be in tune w/ the brand teams, they need to be aware of the social team.

Have a plan – it’s important to have a plan before the “fire” starts.  Make sure people in the company know it.  And are comfortable with it.

It’s important to get the social team pushing/looking ahead so they stay relevant.  And they need to communicate that knowledge with the other teams.

Report on progress – step back on increase sales b/c that’s obviously what we want to do.  But do you want to increase followers

Social isn’t PR – PR isn’t social – customer service, innovation, relationship building.  You can’t have a social team sitting on an island away from the rest of “PR.”

Diane – they re-structured a couple of years ago and added a “PR” department where social media teams were just part of it.  Teams are: Public Relations, Corp Comm, Issue/Brand Mgt, Mktg/Advertising/Internet Services.  They have “Digital Sponsors” group with representatives from each team.  They just hired “Digital Media and Syndication Director.” Others in the Digital Sponsors group – Internal Web Capability, Digital Engagement Svcs, Digital Mktg Strategy.

When they re-organized, they changed everyone’s job description (even the traditional PR practitioners) to include social media capabilities – they listen/monitor, pitch bloggers, engage in conversations, correct misinformation, & facilitate service recovery.

Questions – how are you finding talent? Is it better to find someone more experienced in PR strategy or someone with a digital background?  Mary – in this field, they don’t have to come from a communications/PR background.  Some of this is very much learned.  If you find someone who is agile, risk-taking, and willing to learn – we’re willing to bring them on and train them.  There’s a whole bunch of people who want to get into this, but they haven’t done anything.  It’s about finding the people who have done things.

Holly – It’s nice to find people with strategy experience – how to get your story out overall.  Having a silo’d expertise around social media might not have the impact for the brand that you want.  Good to have balance – risk takers and nay-sayers.  Involving legal team early and often works well for them, too.

Question – What if you’re a team of 1?  What are some strategies for building a team?  Lee – the best thing you can do is show leadership the conversations that are happening.  If you’re not participating in those conversations, then who is?

Holly – listening is really critical.  They create monitoring report each week and share w/ team + C-suite.  The more you’re in it, the more you see opportunities to engage in it.  If you try to address everything in the social space related to your brand, you’re never going to sleep again.

Question – How did you develop the “right” voice?  Mary – starting about 2 years ago, they had so many people tweeting on their behalf so it’s going to be a little bit playful/different.  A lot of brands make their brands synonymous with 1 person – they don’t agree with this b/c eventually, that 1 person is going to not be there.

Question – 3 key characteristics of a candidate.  Holly – 1) skeptical of anyone who tells me they’re a guru or touts themselves like that.  We all have a lot to learn and in reality, we’re all making it up as we go along.  Anyone who claims otherwise, is wrong. 2) there needs to be a balance between willingness to take risks and challenge the status quo.  Have to acknowledge the PR landscape is not the same as it was 10 years ago.  3) pragmatist – it’s not all puppies and kittens when you go out in social media.  You need to be aware of what’s out there and be able to approach it from a realistic perspective.

Lee – 1) communications background – need to be able to communicate 2) understand there is a measurement aspect 3) they need to be likeable.  They’re going to be conversing with people, they need to be likeable.

Question – does it matter if the staff is in the same building? Holly – I don’t care, but ultimately, news is occurring 24/7, so as long as they’re on it, it doesn’t matter where they are.

Mary – You can coordinate your efforts without being in the same spot, generally speaking.

Question – where things are shifting for your team?  Mary – content creation – searchable, working with marketing, web development.

Lee – integrating the social conversations into all forms of communications.

Holly – content creation, overall, is foundational to everything they’re doing.  The more content they can create that is shareable, the more it’s going to help them.  Video is a critical piece to sharing their story.  They will focus on this over the next 3-6 months.

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