PR in 2010: Coping with the Cacophony

As we approach the start of a new year, and indeed a new decade, the blogosphere will no doubt be overwhelmed by predictions and forecasts of various kinds concerning the future of traditional media, social media, PR, marketing etc.

So I thought I’d take a different tack.

I’m going to assume that we are indeed heading into another year of evolution and change. So if that’s a given, why not consider you. What will you do in the next year?

It’s December, it’s a great time to take stock, to review how you’re doing, and to preview where you’re going.

The world of work is changing; and I think that PR and marketing professionals face even greater challenges as we struggle to juggle our traditional work loads and responsibilities with new emerging channels, tools and relationships. So how will we cope with these challenges?

Now before I go any further, I would hate you to think that I’m living in some sort of personal Zen. I can assure you that I am not. However I have reached the conclusion that we must take responsibility for how we manage our personal and working lives. We need to actively think about how we not only cope with a broader set of responsibilities but how we succeed with them.

In short, I think 2010 is the year that you need to invest in you.

I’m not a personal development guru, but here I present 12 areas that I’ve been thinking about recently – for what it’s worth. (And there’s not one mention of unfollowing people on Twitter – that’s a promise.)

I would love to hear your views. What have I missed? What do you disagree with? Jump in with a comment or write your own post and let me know, I’ll add links here.


1. If you don’t know where you’re going.. I am sure there are many people in this world who are naturally ‘planful’. No doubt their work and personal lives revolve around a clear vision of short, medium and long-term objectives. I’m not one of them. However, I have been investing some time in thinking about my own priorities and my own objectives. What roles do I play in my personal and work lives? What objectives do I have? What changes do I want to make? Where do I want to go and how do I get there? Start small, map your roles and responsibilities and your aspirations, then review and review again.

2. Make time for your personal life… Do I need to write any more? If I do, then please refer to the beginning of this paragraph.

3. Love what you do.. It amazes me how many people hate their jobs. They dread the sound of their alarm clock. Well, they are clearly stronger than I, because I couldn’t do that. It’s a personal thing. I need to have a passion for what I do. There’s a nice quote I read recently from a Steve Jobs address to students at Stanford: “You’ve got to find what you love… If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle.” Spot on.

4. Get smart about your workload… You face an avalanche of work, commitments, e-mail, tweets, meetings, tasks and calls every day. Do yourself a favor, start thinking about how you can work smarter. There are some great approaches to more efficient personal workflow. Research them, try them, and give yourself some time back.

5. It’s OK to be a nerd… Related to getting a personal workflow is getting smart about how you use the tools you have. Investing some time in learning to use your PC and applications – as well as the tools and services available online – more effectively, is a good investment that will give you a huge return. Get searching.

6. Get Social.. I know this sounds really obvious, but social media is here to stay. Ignorance really isn’t an option. Many, if not most of our traditional tools and channels will remain important and relevant for the foreseeable future, but social media opens new opportunities to increase the effectiveness of your efforts. The fact you are reading this on a blog means you’re probably already there, however, keep current and get involved. See point #12.

7. Consume greedily.. Keep your brain active and challenged. Find time to read, find time to listen to podcasts, find time to talk to people. Expand your mind outside your area of expertise. Build it into your objectives. Creative ideas and approaches come from many sources and many of them are surprising. Bring your Zune :-) or your Kindle to the gym or on the train. Make time.

8. Live a little… So as the quote goes, "If you always do what you’ve always done, you’ll always get what you’ve always got." We live in exciting times, take calculated risks, experiment, review it and measure the results. At worst it provides fantastic learning opportunities and at best will have a major impact on the effectiveness of your work.

9. Write proper…Isn’t it time we addressed the black and white elephant in the room? The advent of social media demands that we revisit how we communicate. Corporate speak is over-used and it no longer resonates with our audiences. We must change how we think about it, we must bring words to life and go back to telling stories. This is a long journey but one that is worth taking.

10. Where’s your vision… There’s a land grab underway in social media. Who owns it? Who drives it? Don’t be left behind, take control of your destiny. Be clear on your goals (and how they tie back to the business), your strategies and your tactics. Social media isn’t about starting a Twitter account it must be integrated across your business.

Remember the story about everybody, somebody, anybody and nobody?

This is a story about four people named Everybody, Somebody, Anybody, and Nobody.  There was an important job to be done and Everybody was sure that Somebody would do it. Anybody could have done it, but Nobody did it. Somebody got angry about this, because it was Everybody’s job. Everybody thought Anybody could do it, but Nobody realized that Everybody wouldn’t do it.  It ended up that Everybody blamed Somebody when Nobody did what Anybody could have done.

11. How big was it?… Don’t look at your shoes and cough. Measure your successes AND your failures. Review them. Learn. Go again. Be accountable.

12. Know your audience… Invest in getting a better insight into your audience. It will pay huge dividends. Don’t pay lip service to it, do it.


Last but certainly not least, enjoy it… remember this isn’t a dress rehearsal…


Author’s note:

When I was drafting this post, I happened upon a post I wrote around this time of the year back in 2007. It’s still relevant.

Social Media Round-Up

There is an incredible volume of writing, research and opinions on social media. It’s growing every day.

Below I’m posting for your delectation some links to posts I’ve been reading recently.  As always, I don’t present these posts as the one version of the truth.  The reality is that no one has all the answers, however I do believe it’s advisable for all of us to keep reading on the topic  – as long as you remember to keep your analytical facilities working.

Valeria Maltoni does a great job explaining why a company’s commitment to social media isn’t just about giving your marketing executive a commitment to start a Twitter account: You Cannot do Social Without the Support of the Organization.

Without question, some of the best insight and advice on social media comes from understanding how other companies are using social media, their successes and often more insightful their challenges.

Lisa Braziel: 26 Social Media Marketing Examples in Detail

Heather Oldani: McDonald’s Social Media Strategy

One of the topics that’s appearing more often these days is how do we measure the success of social media. There isn’t an easy answer, but there are many approaches, here are some recent posts on the matter.  Again I’d recommend using these to get your grey matter firing on how you would measure your success.

David Berkowitz: 100 Ways to Measure Social Media

Paul Chaney: Is Social Media Marketing a Waste of Time?

Chris Lake: 35 social media KPIs to help measure engagement

Last but not least… Mark Glaser talks to Cheryl Contee, Jeff Pester, Laura Pexton, Brian Solis, and Caleb Zigas on the basics of social media marketing.

Tom’s Miscellany – December 8th 2009

A mixed bag of PR and media links…

Buying snake oil? It’s your own fault

Business Week’s feature (Beware Social Media Snake Oil) on the ‘consultants’ who have emerged to help companies to make the most of social media has drawn some online commentary – though not as much as you might have expected.

It’s a well written piece that tackles many of the challenges involved in incorporating social media as part of the marketing mix (hey I’m old, cut me some slack, at least I didn’t mention the 4 Ps… doh).

The risk is that a backlash against the consultants’ easy promises could reduce social media investments just as the industry takes off. Think back to the dot-com boom a decade ago. Soaring valuations were based initially on promise and hype. In early 2000, when investors started focusing on scarce profits, the market collapsed. But many companies drew the wrong conclusions. Believing the fall of a hyped market was a sign of the failed promise of the Internet, they drew back on Internet investments. This happened just as the technology was on the verge of living up to much of its promise, dominating global communications, transforming entire industries—and spawning social media.

But the more interesting question for me is who is handing over the budgets?

If you work in PR or marketing, then it’s your job to know your business.  If someone’s selling something that’s too good to be true, then it normally is. However, humans are lazy, so we like to think that this time, well this time it’ll be different.

The fact is, if you are in charge of promoting a product or a brand then you should have an intimate knowledge of your audience, where they are, what they think of you, and how you can reach them.  Otherwise I daresay you are asleep at the wheel.  No marketing person regardless of their tenure, position, experience or budget can afford the luxury of outsourcing an understanding of social media.  It’s the traditional media equivalent of not looking at billboards.

Other wisdom on the subject:

No miscellany…. just a social media video

Yes, it’s been quiet on the blog.  Yes, I’ve been busy. 

I was planning to pull together a monsterous post of stuff I missed while I was away covering everything from social media gender balance, to the survival of newspapers, to the state of tech journalism.

But I’m not.

Instead in a hat tip to the humor and intelligence you often find online amidst the noise, I offer Baratunde Thurston’s presentation at the Web 2.0 Expo: “There’s a hashtag for that”.

Perfect viewing for a Friday.