Monday, 8 February 2010

When trying to fix PR, why should you think of the Golden Gate bridge?

I was reading ‘Why PR is losing the social media battle’ this morning, the first in a series of blog posts and struck down by the accuracy in which Darika Ahrens is able to identify the first of many reasons why it can be difficult to appropriate a social media strategy to run alongside a PR campaign.
Ahrens (@Darika) tweeted ‘This week I’m unofficially trying to fix PR, anyone want to join me?’ and we would very much like to raise a hand and be counted in the picket line. The struggles that social media can present to PR often allude to two simple points:
1. Everyone wants it because they’ve heard of it
2. These people (usually those that say should we be ‘twittering or whatever it is’ about this) often aren’t sure of what exactly they want/social media is
Traditional PR aimed to bridge the gap between brands and journalists, social media PR has a much much bigger bridge to build (think Golden Gate, and then maybe bigger) filling the gaps in clients knowledge before then attempting to cultivate a strategy that is both innovative and practical whilst reaching the consumer in a tone that is appropriate.
This brings me to what I believe can be a big problem for social media PR – tone. Every brand needs a voice that can reach their consumers and influence their decision making. When building their brands many years ago – most big corporations thought of a voice that was appropriate to print media and (if they popped up in the last ten years) websites. So when the social media explosion happened this brands were left with voices that may have spoken brilliantly to their audience on many levels, but weren’t appropriate to social media.
Enter PR: where your job becomes attempting to build a new voice that is still in line with the original identity but can push relevant and innovative messages out to people using the new channels – it’s a tricky dilemma.
Some brands, Innocent is a great example, have been lucky striking up an edgy conversational tone from the beginning that lends itself brilliantly to Twitter and the like.
Social media presents a challenge, but it’s one that many brands have overcome and many more are looking to face – so I hope we can all join Darika in fixing PR this week, I’m on my hands and knees ready to get bridge-building. Anyone like to join us?


  1. Excellent point Hannah. I forget about tone. It's actually one of the hardest things I struggled with (and still struggle with) when using social media.
    It's like the process when learning to write releases - how do you "communicate" vs "sell"?
    I've cringed sometimes when seeing my clients' first faltering steps in online comms. Just like my managers cringed when I first started writing release.
    I find practice makes perfect though - would you agree?

  2. I certainly would agree - this is why I hate those that profess to be 'social media PR experts' that can't be found on the social networking sites as themselves. I think it's only by dabbling in the likes of these mediums as an individual that you're able to develop an appropriate sytle sense,

    Your blog was brilliant by the way, just about to read day two...

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

  4. Great points! Creating relevant and innovative messages and using a variety of media channels is the biggest opportunity which PR people are facing. In addition, brands should interact, engage, connect and communicate with their publics 7 days a week. This requires fast reactions and fast decisions. Only the professional PR strategies will succeed. We, as PR specialists, need to adapt, to support the change in the communications world and to keep high standards. That's why we need to work in professional cooperation to fix PR.