Last night I was at a business event. During my mingling, I found myself attempting to convince the PR director of a major not-for-profit organization why she should care about social media. I thought I gave good and relavant arguments, but realized I’d only been partially successful.
She agreed that she’d have her organization join our local interactive marketing association, but said she would delegate attending the meetings: “I’ll send our web guy to them. He’ll understand all that stuff.” The problem is, if you don’t take the calculated plunge into social media, you cannot possibly grasp why it is such a game changer — for both the discipline of PR, and for marketing in general.
I wanted to tell her, “Considering your leadership position, delegating an education in online marketing to someone else is not a wise move, for either the organization or your own career.”
Just ask Rick Sanchez, co-anchor of CNN Newsroom. His newscast has lately included a real-time Twitter display, and tie-ins with Facebook and MySpace. I guarantee you that regardless of how carefully he and his producers planned this adventure in social media, they could not have planned for what would be thrown at them, and how they might respond.
Still thinking about my conversation with that PR director, I came home to read this update on a criticism that social media and marketing strategist David Berkowitz had posted about Rick’s show. David noted that Rick Sanchez had responded quickly and thoughtfully to his disappointments with the way social media were handled:
Rick managed to change my opinion of him the hard way – by taking the time to listen and respond to my comments, and to go above and beyond. He was authentic, personal, and immediately responsive, all important characteristics for any person or marketer determining how to respond to customer feedback.
This authenticity cannot be faked, and cannot be experienced at arm’s length.
I wish I could have pointed to this sequence of events — David’s post, Rick’s response, and the resulting good will and positive buzz — as a perfect example of good PR in a Web 2.0 world.
Regardless, she and others will be seeing other adventures in social media by broadcast journalists yet to come.
None of us have to climb up and try to surf a given wave that’s passing by. But as for this wave, if we’re in the communication industry, we will all most certainly be getting very wet, very soon.