But there are still waves of hype crashing around us, and riding those waves apparently are some people who call themselves Social Media PR Douchebags — I mean, Specialists.
Nothing wrong with social media PR, as long as there’s, you know — strategy and thoughtfulness driving the program. But lately I’ve had more calls that go something like this:
“I’m hoping you and your Agency can help me. You see, we thought we needed PR, and ________________ told us s/he could help, and that we didn’t really need PR at all, what we needed was SOCIAL MEDIA PR, and it sounded smart and kinda cool so …”
(At which point I nod or murmur sympathetically; like a bobby on a BBC detective show, I know where this is headed.)
“But what _______ mostly did is introduce us at some parties; and you know, it wasn’t all bad. We were a TC50 finalist! But afterwards? We realized s/he didn’t know anyone else — any writers or editors outside that particular crowd. And then it turned out there was no follow-up strategy at all.”
How did your launch go? I ask.
“S/he told us not to bother with news, that it’s all relationships so we didn’t need to do releases or launches except for a party. But here’s the thing: we are dead in the water. No one really knows who we are anymore. We need other influencers, and funding, and like three other audiences that we’re not reaching. Can you help?”
I resist the urge to say, “Tsk tsk tsk.” Instead I say, “Sure.”
(Note to haters: There’s nothing wrong with “social PR.” There’s a lot wrong with “social” that doesn’t have really smart PR thinking behind it; or that occurs in a vacuum, as if all you ever needed was Yelp, FB and Twitter to educate the world).
In 2006, one of my clients was lured by a Personality (who very much recalls Eminem’s “It feels so empty without me!”) The Personality convinced my client to fork over a chunk of our budget — even though we’d been doing really well for them. He promised to Move the Needle for them in the New Field of Social Media, Which A Traditional Agency Couldn’t Hope to Understand. (Except that, up til that point, he had been marketing himself as a traditional agency…)
But actually, it worked the other way around. They helped move the needle for him. He hadn’t had many clients, and they had new media and cloud computing cred. He leveraged their coolness to get invited to parties, share buzzwords, state casually that old media was dead (very endearing in some circles), and formulate a bunch of tips and aphorisms, sharable and linkable in 140 characters or less. Not bad, really.
They got… well, I don’t know what they got, but after a bit they asked us to take them back and they reinstated all our budget. We still landed them in RWW and TC; but also in those weird little pubs that they needed to reach IT buyers; and the Merc. And the Times. And the Journal.
The Personality is still Going Strong. If I were him, I’d think I was on the right track: He has a new book out. He goes to parties and speak at panels, he makes pronouncements which are widely re-tweeted without question. It’s working for him, why wouldn’t it work for everyone else?
But then there are the people that are calling me and my Agency; burned, if not by him, by someone who wants to be him.
So here’s the thing, people:
If you want to launch a company or a service, call me. We will talk about who your audience really is, and which media or tribes– old, new, pubescent — you should be talking with to get to them. Maybe it’s AdAge. Maybe it’s TechCrunch or Mashable or TIME, or BusyMom or GreebleMonkey. Or Parents. Or AARP (hey, don’t snicker; that is one powerful publication).
We will help you figure out what mediums to use to reach them. Yes, you probably need short video. Yes, a social media press release is a good idea. Yes, we’ll figure out a viral plan, and help you put in place a community with a platform like GetSatisfaction.com if you don’t already have one, or something more sophisticated if that’s what you need.
And maybe you should go to a party. Maybe you should launch at an Event — sometimes there’s a perfect critical mass of the people you need to talk with attending. But sometimes events just generate noise, and we have to figure out realistically whether that’s your best chance to be heard. We can do that. Together.
But parties alone? That’s just for Social Media (PR) douchebags. And most likely, the only person who’ll make money is … well, you know.