The International Public Relations Association (IPRA) Summit 2009 last week in London England was more interesting than I had expected. Past conferences have been generally okay, and not just because I was speaking. This one, though, was focused on PR 2.0 and my fear was yet another conference in which self-styled experts told us we have to take the measure of social media in communications strategies (Duh!) without adding much to the arsenal of ideas.
Rather than write about my viewpoint on what I heard, I'll let some of the social media and public relations apostles speak for themselves:
Christophe Ginisty, president, Rumeur Publique (Note . . . I have shared a platform with Christophe before and he is always the most invigorating and creative presenter:
"We live in world in which nothing is virtual. I hate using the word virtual to describe online communities."
"The two words that best capture an effective online community are a mirror and a nest. Before talking about the platform, you have to discover the what brings people to a community, what motivates their belonging; mirror it; build the nest; make it safe; feed the birds; then let them live their lives."
"You know why teenagers like social networks. Because the social network community members understand them while adults don't. In other words, they want the mirror. The web is the easiest and most comfortable nest when they move away from home."
"Online communities have to be specific, the more specific they are the more successful."
"Communities can be activated anytime: you need to push the right button. We do not create communities. We move them and activate them (by chance or talent)."
Paul Holmes, the inimitable editor of The Holmes Report:
"HBR did a whole issue on trust and didn't think to speak to a public relations professional, which says something about how public relations is misunderstood."
"Public relations should always have been about dialogue and conversations only the processes have changed. We used to ask journalists do our communicating. Now we can do it ourselves."
"The cost of being a lousy PR person is going to go through the roof as a result of social media.We are going to need courage to fight off lawyers and those who won't listen to our recommendations about social media. If PR people don't take this on, management consultants will.
Bill Mew, global communications leader for the financial services sector group at IBM:
"The biggest step IBM took was to empower all employees to tweet and blog and also to create early on community-developed social computing guidelines.
"If current culture doesn't align, start to create it."
"Stream computing will allow real time analysis of what people are saying about your brand everywhere in the world."
Cathy Wallace, editor of PR week:
"Separate digital/social media departments in PR firms should disappear as everyone in agencies has to become able to deliver social media strategies . . . and as a result, the power of public relations will increase."
Robyn O'Kelly, head of corporate affairs, T-mobile:
"Social media confuses communicators because they aren't sure where it sits. Is it marketing, advertising or public relations?"
"We still need the media to drive people to our YouTube channel."
Fernando Rizo, head of digital, Ketchum Pleon (London):
"Proving the value of what you are doing and managing client expectations are the central questions facing social media strategists."
"Good digital PR means becoming a publisher."
"We have to get rid of the 'digital engagement is free" mentality.
"The concept of 'impressions' has to be taken out of measurement of social media."
"I won't let anyone talk about making viral videos. Videos become viral; we don't make viral"
Olle Ahnve, digital planner, Jung Relations, Sweden:
"You can fake transparency and dialogue in social media: You can't fake personality."
Gareth Davies, head of digital, MS&L (UK):
"Social media is about trust and credibility."
"There are five things you have to do to build a credible community online 1. Spend time listening to your audience. 2. Lever the power of your network. 3. Don't be afraid to give customers control. 4. Crowdsource content. 5.Create and embed brand ambassadors."
Stuart Wilson, CEO MS&L (UK):
"Social media is not about cannibalisation: It's about investing for the future."
Anne Walker, associate director, digital practice, Fleishman Hillard:
"Focus on interests, not borders when building a community."