POST starts with "P"

This post first appeared on the nextcommunication blog on June 16, 2008.

I am reading Groundswell by Forrester Research’s Charlene Li and Josh Bernoff. This book is easily one of the most intriguing professional books I’ve read in a while. According to Li and Bernoff the groundswell is:

A social trend in which people use technologies to get the things they need from each other, rather than from traditional institutions like corporations.

While I don’t particularly care for the name they chose to describe the social media phenomenon, I do appreciate the terrific insight and research they’ve provided.

One graphical representation from the book helps explain the Social Technographics® Profile in the form of a Ladder to represent consumers’ social computing behavior categorized by participation.

Social Technographics Ladder

The social participation rungs in the ladder are (from bottom to top): Inactives, Spectators, Joiners, Collectors, Critics, and Creators with explanations of each. The authors provide various samples of profiles to help drive home the point that different people come to you and your company or organization at very different levels of social media participation.

The POST Method

There are implications for business in assessing participation, especially when one applies the POST method for a social media strategy:

    1. Assess the social activities of your People;

 

  • Decide what Objectives you want to accomplish;

 

 

  • Plan your Strategy for changes in customer relations; then

 

 

  • Decide on the suitable Technology or technologies to meet your goals.

 

 

I was struck by something so simple, but could have serious implications for those interested in social media if forgotten:
The POST method starts with “P” for People.

 

People Matter

If you don’t have your people, (audience, stakeholders, customers, community, or any other term you use) your social media strategy will be much harder to effectively implement and accurately assess.

To often Communication/PR practitioners are presented with the challenge of adding a social media to their communication efforts and they jump straight to the latest and greatest social media technology with buzz.

I am all for jumping in and experimenting with social media mainly because you are more credible if you’ve experienced the various forms of social media. This holds true even if you outsource.

However, I caution (from experience) that your community participation assessment should come first.

If the biggest sin in social media is inaction, then I think the biggest mistake is not knowing your people.

Here’s to your dreams

from the June issue of the eChaser 

PRESIDENT’S COLUMN

Laura Van Hoosier, APR, Greater Fort Worth PRSA
 
Here it is almost summertime, and I have amassed a gigantic stack of books I hope to read, ideally by some beach or pool. The Memorial Day weekend provided a nice opportunity to finish two I’d recommend to everyone: “The Shack” by William P. Young and Maria Shriver’s “Just Who Will You Be?” Originally written for graduates, Maria’s book suggests that the time is always right to chase your dreams.
 
Almost a dozen GFW PRSA members have committed to starting the APR exam process. APR chair Kim Speairs, APR, and I are fired up about the excitement in this group. These PR professionals want the APR for a number of reasons, not the least of which is it’s a goal — a professional dream.
 
My daughters had their dance recital Mother’s Day weekend, and the theme was “Wishes, Dreams and Imagination.” In advance of the big day, every dancer completed a flyer that went on display at the entryway along with her photo. Each sheet began with “My wish” or “I imagine” or “My dream is.” Nine-year-old Bryn Van Hoosier completed her message with: “My wish is to get a trained horse that I can ride all the time and groom it sparkly clean.” Pie in the sky, right?
 
How could we have known that two weeks later she would spend Memorial Day weekend at her grandparents’ farm in Weatherford caring for and riding horses her grandfather got for his four granddaughters. As” luck” would have it, a family friend moved and had two older, trained horses for the taking. They just needed a new home.
 
You can only imagine Bryn’s joy. Her smile that weekend will stay with us for a long, long time. There’s joy in Mary and Joe Dulle’s family, too, as their granddaughter, Clara Smith, age 6, returned home from the hospital after being kicked in the head by a horse at her parents’ ranch in Canadian, Texas, near Amarillo. “It´s wonderful,” Mary writes, “what the power of prayer, good thoughts and energy can do.”
 
Sadly, little Juliette Brown’s story had a different ending. The 9-year-old Haltom City girl died after being dragged a mile and a half by a horse near Benbrook Stables. The story touched many, including the Van Hoosier girls. Our sympathies are with the family.
 
Life is fragile, life is grand. Here’s to your dreams. It’s never too late — or early — to start living them.

Speaking Up for PRSA

The PR industry took an unfair hit from legal analyst Andrew Cohen of CBS related to former White House Press Secretary’s new tell-all book. In his report, Cohen accuses PR professionals of making a living on untruths. He even calls out PRSA’s ethics:

 

Apparently, an industry the very essence of which is to try to convince people that a turkey is really an eagle has a rule that condemns lying.

The Public Relations Society of America states: “We adhere to the highest standards of accuracy and truth in advancing the interests of those we represent…” This clause strikes me as if the Burglars Association of America had as its creed “Thou Shalt Not Steal.”

Show me a PR person who is “accurate” and “truthful,” and I’ll show you a PR person who is unemployed.


PRSA wrote a response to Cohen that warrants repeating as many times as possible:

 

Dear Mr. Cohen,
Regarding your commentary on today’s CBS Sunday Morning, the Board of Directors of the Public Relations Society finds it imperative to affirm the professionalism of public relations practitioners and to take exception with what we regard as a misguided opinion. The PRSA Code of Ethics, to which all members pledge, embodies a strict set of guidelines defining ethical and professional practice in public relations. Professionals who meet the Code’s standards stand in stark contrast to the simplistic, erroneous characterization of the profession you presented.

Contrary to baseless assertions, truth and accuracy are the bread and butter of the public relations profession. In a business where success hinges on critical relationships built over many years with clients, journalists and a Web 2.0-empowered public, one’s credibility is the singular badge of viability. All professionals, including attorneys, accountants and physicians, aspire to ethical standards, and public relations professionals are no different, always striving for the ideal.

For public relations professionals, engaging diverse and often skeptical audiences requires top-flight skills in communications, creativity and even persuasion, but a trust once lost cannot be regained. Unemployment, contrary to your opinion, is reserved for the professional who has lost his or her credibility.

Read the full letter to Cohen on PRSA’s Web site.

We are encouraged by the immediate response by national PRSA and the opportunity to reiterate the ethical standards to which we should all adhere. It is unfortunate that high-profile situations become media fodder that is then used to paint wide brush strokes over an organization with professionals that seek to reach out and be effective communicators.