SKOJ2012

The New PR – How to become a Brand among Friends

The New PR – How to become a Brand among Friends
Eleftherios Hatziioannou and Nathaniel Hansen
Nov 7th, 2012. Rebirth of PR Conference in Portoroz, Slovenia.

What we know from our very short history of living online is that community precedes commerce; there’s no commerce without community. ~Kevin Kelley

THE NEW PR PROFESSIONAL: Employees in PR departments and agencies worldwide should be interested in people and relationships. The excellent PR leader possesses a high social and emotional intelligence. He/she is aware of the needs within a community, including complaints, desires, trends, overall sentiment. Today, we have deep access to communities – because people interact publicly in the rapidly expanding online eco-systems. The new PR pro understands the power of communities and is actively engaged within these settings. PR has traditionally been in charge of letting the world know the corporate view on any given issue. Nothing has changed in this respect – except that we use a new means of communication – namely, the social networks. The New PR pro is ideally suited to nurture and guide the communities forming around brands in social networks. The core activitiy in this process is LISTENING.

The most basic and powerful way to connect to another person is to listen. Just listen. Perhaps the most important thing we ever give each other is our attention…. A loving silence often has far more power to heal and to connect than the most well-intentioned words. ~Rachel Naomi Remen

SOCIAL BUSINESS INTELLIGENCE: The value of Social Business Intelligence is primarily related to strategic planning and action steps based on sophisticated listening technologies. When a “Chief Listening Officer“ sees a pool of friends chatting about product-related interests, he reports this to leadership (along with possible conversations and content-marketing tactics). Marketing, Sales and PR are called in and the pool of friends is discussed. Every division can learn from the resulting insights of these cross-division collaborations.

INSIGHTS & ACTIONS: In business, we can save a lot of time and money when we are listening. For example: We can be much more precise and targeted with our brand messages. And we can add real value by approaching our prospects and existing customers with helpful answers, solutions and relationship-building actions. A strategy built upon intelligence is much more effective than one built upon leadership’s assumptions and gut feeling. Certainly experience is vital. But matching experience WITH observable behavior in the market is an even more effective way of developing strategy. In terms of PR planning, we have an excellent map showing how the US Army listens and responds to blog visitors: http://thesocializers.com/pr_algorithm.html At each stage of this PR chart, we listen, plan respond and then act.

INTERESTS & INFLUENCERS: To understand the value and function of an influencer in social networks, one must understand the nature of Communities of Interest. A community of interest is a community of people who share a common interest or passion. These people exchange ideas and thoughts about a specific passion, making their connection primarily Interest-Based. Twitter is an excellent example of an Interest-Based network. Participants return frequently and remain for extended periods in Communities of Interest, due to compelling conversations and sticky content.

An influencer within a social network is someone who leads a community of interest. When an influencer sends a message into his community, many members of the community take action and re-send this message to one another. An influencer can turn the tide of opinion within an interest group very quickly to one side or another. The value of gaining an influencer’s attention for a brand, a governmental agency, a publication or a service is HUGE!! The reason for this is that, typically, an influencer has a significant following of other influencers who are interested in a specific topic.

There are many ways to ascertain influence in social networks. The most basic of these is to use Google Ad Planner and Google Analytics to measure the unique visitors to a website associated with a particular influencer. One may also look at the “Talking About This” metric within Facebook Insights, the number of lists a specific Twitter user is on, the number of comments made in YouTube on a specific channel, the job title one holds/company one works for in LinkedIn, the number of re-pins in Pinterest, etc…

There are also a growing number of solutions for taking all of this information and scoring a person’s influence in particular social networks and topics. Klout, Kred, PeerIndex and Empire Avenue are all examples of such Influence Scoring Solutions.

INLUENCERS AS YOUR FRIENDS:
When you find out who the most influential people in your industry are and when you listen to them and study who they are and what they do – you will be well prepared to reach out to them. Your main goal must be to build relationships with them and make them part of your network – just like you did with journalists at press events. But you have to careful about how you do it. You cannot gain their trust and credibility without investing time and efforts first. But once you have established these relationships and “made new friends“ it will help you spread your message much faster and further than ever before.

CONCLUSION: In PR, we want our community to know we care and that we have heard their needs — just like good friends do. In the ideal PR department/agency, we have already assigned listening to a specific staff member (Chief Listening Officer).The rebirth of PR means, we have ideally integrated what we’ve learned through listening solutions into our day-to-day operations. We have ideally distributed our findings to the management and all divisions with the goal of creating a tighter corporate team, focused on the customer as a friend. Through listening, PR has the ability to nurture communities in social networks by feeding them with precise and relevant answers and engaging in conversations. The New PR delivers real value to the customer, the stakeholder and the market as a freind would. And of course it’s about associating yourself with the right people (influencers) who can help you spread your message much faster and further.

If you are interested in learning how the New PR can be integrated in your daily efforts and how you can get the most out of it for your own brand/corportation – come and join our lecture on Nov 7th, 2012 at the Rebirth of PR Conference in Portoroz, Slovenia. There we will share our experiences with international clients from various industries and we will together take a look at the strategies, practical tools and methods we have developed in the past years.

Of course, we are also looking forward to making new friends.