Common sense ain’t thought leadership either

Recently I wrote about the importance of being yourself online and avoiding the temptation to call yourself a guru or a thought leader. Today I want to touch on a separate but related issue. 

A common theme from a number of highly rated social media related keynotes and posts  – which it should be said are very interesting, relevant and well written and/or delivered – that I’ve watched and read recently, have focused on the importance of things that you’ve been reading in management or marketing books since the 1960s (probably earlier):

  • The customer is king
  • Build a relationship with your customer
  • Provide great customer service

Although I’ll admit we often forget these basics, and it’s great that people remind us, and even better that they provide context for how social media can help address these issues.  It’s not revolutionary. It’s common sense.

For me, the real challenge is taking this common sense and making sure it’s part of what we do. There’s no question that there is value in that. 

Let me give you a PR example. The poor press release.

Now let’s get the baggage out of the way:

  • Yes, press releases are overused
  • Yes, the press release is an old format – created in a world far different to today
  • Yes, most press releases are badly written
  • Yes, most press releases are unimaginative
  • Yes, most press releases are a waste of time for the reasons outlined above and because they are mis-used and badly “shared”
  • Yes we should re-think how we use, plan, write and share press releases

I don’t debate any of these points (so save your exasperated comments) it’s common sense.

But rather than take these lessons on board, we had to go after something “new”, so we created (and I use the word we in the royal context) the social media release.

It emerged with hundreds, if not thousands of blog posts, webinars and even (I kid you not) training courses.

I’ve never bought it.  Well maybe I did for a little while.

The press release is just a tool, it serves a purpose (see some of the old links below).  Why not use our common sense and  just make it better:

  • Focus on something that’s newsworthy – not everything needs a press release what about blogs, Twitter, Facebook or lord forbid calling someone?
  • Add some real creativity
  • Invest time in the writing and more importantly the editing process
  • Tell three dimensional stories with online content and links

Obviously the list could go on. 

The core point is this – use some common sense.  Common sense is open to everyone, there’s no barrier to entry.  Adding common sense approaches to solving new or old challenges is probably every bit as effective as pretending something is bright, shiny and new, when in fact, it isn’t. The challenge is applying that common sense to the new new thing.

Just my thought for what it’s worth.  Very little probably.




Supplemental links for the press release nerds out there: