August 30, 2009
Advertising, Marketing and PR Suck: Now What?
This past week, I was on a panel I didn't wildly promote, and when you hear the name of it, you'll understand why. I thought: better not to provoke the sharks although in hindsight, the sharks could have added some teeth to the discussion and so feel free to start a dialogue that will start a feeding frenzy.
One of Guy's questions was: what would you do if you only had $10K for a launch? Steve held the viewpoint that advertising is still effective and let's not nuke it just yet and replace with grassroots efforts using social media tools alone to drive word-of-mouth (he was aghast at a $10K budget to launch a product - "What can you really do for that?"). Interestingly enough, the majority of the room supported his view.
You can't really answer that question effectively without additional data, such as what product or service is it? There are very different solutions to how you launch a $300,000 enterprise solution into the market vis a vis an online tool like Seesmic that is enjoying success through viral buzz and community efforts alone.
Let's be clear about one thing: word-of-mouth and viral has always been effective. It's not new. The difference today is that instead of 20 or 200 influential outlets and voices who can make or break your product, we have 6,000. And, how much time do you spend at the very end of that long tail?
Despite how active he is online, Louis put on a 'real world hat' and reminded us that there is a world beyond Twitter and social networks when you think about your reach.
Creating buzz online through so called authenticity everywhere your customers are, commenting, responding, engaging with an existing community or creating one is great and critical - I couldn't agree more, but let's be honest here: it's incredibly time consuming and doesn't scale.
Not only doesn't it scale, but not everyone in your organization is going to present themselves with perfect etiquette all the time, particularly as you scale. In other words, I'd argue that as the number of people who can influence our product or service grows, the need for smart, strategic PR grows too.
Loic argues that traditional PR and marketing does not work to build a community. No, it doesn't when done poorly nor does it help to build a community when you don't do what PR should do well - be an honest communicator with all of your audiences, not just press.
In the training I had in London in the late eighties and early nineties, PR was never about just press - ever. Nor was it ever one directional. The problem is that there are far too many cases where that has either been the case OR perceived to be the case.
So, over time, flacks got a bad rap. As everything becomes more and more transparent, they're the first to get buried next to those equally dishonest marketers, lawyers and advertisers.
What PR can do effectively moving forward is jump into that thought leadership role, jump into that strategic role and jump into that master communicator role. In other words, now we need 'community managers" engaging with customers and everyone else hanging out in the Long Tail more than we ever had in the past.
If you really "get" PR's role and what it can do powerfully well, then you'll see where messaging, etiquette and creating a vision for the company will play a vital role in the new media economy. Not everyone in the organization necessarily has the skillset, know how or frankly, personality to execute on that vision effectively and cohesively.
Messaging will always be important. Great messaging wrapped around authenticity, directness and proactive engagement is key and PR is smack in the center of all of that.
Combine the above with the Tribes mentality that Seth Godin writes about in his latest book and you've got a magical formula.
If you're not honest and admit that we're all in this together, testing out new approaches as things evolve where every 'hat' can play a valuable role in building community and creating a loyal customer fan base, including PR, then you're not thinking long-term.
The video is up as well. Due to the typical time constraints, it's in 8 parts:
Part I below: