Monday, March 2, 2015

How not to use social media in PR

Social media and public relations can work quite well together. If you know what you're doing.

Trouble is, if Kelly Brady’s your expert on the topic, grab a parachute. Now. Your plane's on autopilot and you’re about to smack a mountaintop. 

Howcast.com posted a 2013 video with Ms.Brady expounding on the value of social media in PR. And very little of it has any basis in how social media really works for most PR pros.

Publicist Kelly Brady
Note: Ms. Brady believes landing a story in the New York Post is a good PR hit. If that's your paper of record, then her advice might be worth following -- if your client loves Page Six. (Learn more about Ms. Brady here.)

Here are excerpts of her pearls of wisdom:
  • “Social media is relatively a new tool in public relations.” Sure, if you’ve been living the hard-partying life since 2009. By then, Facebook had more than 100 million users. Today, it’s close to 1.4 billion users.
  • “Creating a buzz about the account you’re working on.” Nope. You should be creating conversations about your client’s products, services, and brand. Buzz is baloney; it doesn't create a lasting brand impression.
  • “You can really get that celebrity endorsement through Twitter.” Maybe, if you can create a relationship and write a 140-character agreement.
  • “You send a celebrity a product you’re pushing. They like it. They tweet a picture about it. It’s golden.” On what planet does this happen without an endorsement agreement?
  • “Another thing I love about social media is the access to mass people.” Huh? What is mass people? Hasn’t she heard about market segmentation? Narrowcasting? Targeted Twitter chats? Proper English?
  • “For some reason, (the editor) wasn’t responding to me over e-mail.” They may think she'll pitch them any half-baked story idea just because she has their e-mail address. They’re just not as in to you as you’re into you, Kelly.

Here's a reality check: social media, especially Twitter, is excellent for listening and engaging in conversations. Do this to learn what people think about issues and topics, especially those that intersect with your clients’ offerings. Twitter can help you understand what editors and reporters are following, and whether their priorities intersect with those of your clients.

Social media -- with the exceptions of YouTube and Pinterest -- are not a product placement party. Howcast.com should reconsider why this video was filmed, and perhaps shelve it. The party's over.

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