My return to the classroom this fall has been rough. But if you’ve read my last few posts, you know that, eh? Still, I won’t ask for pity from folks who work real jobs that operate 12 months a year.
It took this story from today’s Chicago Tribune to jolt me back to serious blogging. The story tells how civil rights leaders are using blogs and social media to mobilize tens of thousands in support of those kids charged with assault in Jena, La. The case already has drawn the attention of mainstream black leaders (Sharpton, Jackson, King III), but social media are getting credit for raising $130K for legal fees and 220,000 petition signatures.
Regardless of how you view the case legally and morally, PR pros need to pay attention. It shows how a disenfranchised public is finding its voice — and its power — in Web 2.0. The civil rights movement has always been grassroots, but now the grass is digital. How will this new grassroots power affect your organization or clients?
Can you believe what’s happening on Facebook? Membership, now open to the masses, has more than doubled in the past year. And it’s not just a place to meet and greet. Facebook is now a place for serious business networking.
Savvy PR types have been working it in earnest. I see daily activity from PR bloggers Todd Defren, Kami Huyse and Kevin Dugan. Another blogger, Shel Israel, last week credited FB for “three speaking invitations, two new business inquiries and at least 10 leads for my SAP Global Survey.”
That’s ROI, folks. From Facebook!
More than bloggers and geeks are jumping into Facebook. A while back I was friended by the CEO of Ohio’s oldest firm, the venerable Edward Howard. Kudos to Kathy Obert for testing the social-media waters, and encouraging everyone on her staff to do same. (Aside: I welcome friend requests, especially from PR professionals and lunatic bloggers.)
A wait-and-see approach to social media isn’t the answer. You don’t have to shift your world view here, but you need to view the world, at least in part, from a Web 2.0 perspective. Alas, the Sept. issue of PRSA’s monthly, PR Tactics, has me wondering if our leadership is doing much leading in this area.
An interview panel on “How to Ethically Engage New Media” tells me that some of PRSA’s thought leaders are running hard to catch up. I won’t single anyone out, but if you want to see the article, contact me and I’ll share. If you’re are PRSA member, you can link from the website.
One of the experts in the group says conventional strategies and tactics of PR are still valid and that social media are just another channel of communication. If I remember correctly, some folks said this about the Web in ’94. Yeah.
Much of the article reflects a cautionary tone, exhibiting more worry about who might attack our clients online than how online tools might create conversations and enhance relationships. Yes, the speed and autonomy of social media make them more powerful — and in many ways more dangerous — than those other tools. Social media allow us, and our detractors, to go direct to audiences and to say what we please.
We all know these things, or should by now, but another article in the same issue of Tactics (“Working to Make Sense of Social Media”) presents a primer on social media so basic it’s nearly devoid of value. The author admits he’s new to the social media world, and bless his heart for jumping into the pool and writing about it. But it makes me wonder why PRSA isn’t tapping some of the bloggers I mentioned earlier in this post to write articles that offer more information and substantive guidance.
I’m also wondering why PRSA’s National Conference in Philadelphia isn’t hosting a few Web 2.0 luminaries as keynoters (e.g., Weinberger or Rosen) instead of a Mia Farrow. But I’m just a rube from Ohio.
I feel a rant coming on, so I’ll shut up.