Thursday, June 12, 2008

The Art of Strategy. Or How I Like to Say No, and People Hate Me for That.

Tomorrow morning - or today, depending on when you read this - is BlogPotomac. It's an unconference, so more on the conversation and less on the one sided-lecture.

It's even a Powerpoint free. And while at Communitelligence's Executing Employing Social Media Conference, I noted that I'm not big fan of the verbose PPT presentation (I spoke on crisis in social media and influencing the influencers - btw, there is no such thing), I did prepare a one page slide for BlogPotomac.

All it had was one word big: Why?

This fits in to the pre-conference interview I did with Debbie Weil, and the recent question from Joe Ciarallo from PR Newswer. And, well, for people that really read my blog, sorta fits into what I have been saying for the past five years.

Any social media strategy should start out with that one question: Why? Think of yourself as a five-year old child and continually ask questions. Ask why.

Why does this make sense? Why are we doing this? Why is this the right strategy?

Social media strategy is that easy. No, I'm serious - and even though it won't play well in large agency life (btw, the days of real counsel and strategy and client push-back seem to be dead) - it is always the first question. And second question.

If the answer is "well, everyone else has a blog" - you're launching a strategy for the wrong reason.

If the answer lives in it's own world and is not connected to the overall public relations and/or marketing strategy, it's the wrong answer and disconnected from what is really needed.

Social media is not a separate strategy. It should not be a separate strategy, but an overall part of the public relations strategy. Social media is COMPLEMENTARY to the overall public relations strategy.

Here's a perfect example of charlatan social media experts giving out shitty advice: my Mom is a realtor, and social media is becoming hot there (and, since realtors tend to be luddites and late to things, Facebook should be over soon). Some asshat gave a presentation in Phoenix and told all the realtors to join LinkedIn and Facebook.

Why? Well, it really never trickled down what he was trying to explain (or, more to the point, he's like every other social media "expert" that spouts out buzz words and talks a lot ... but does not walk the walk and had no real point). The point he was trying to make is to network and grow ... but are you really going to search for a new realtor or look for a home on Facebook? Or are you going to throw a sheep at them? Yes, I got nothing but love for LinkedIn ... but in real estate, face-to-face networking needs to be the first step.

But, seriously, I hear the same things spouted off by the so-called experts that speak a lot ... but that's just it, they speak a lot.

If your agency or consultant spouts out to start a blog, bitch slap him/her. And hard. And many times. If your agency or consultant just says "engage" but has nothing beyond that, lay down the pimp hand. Repeatedly. If your agency's or consultant's sage advice for you during a crisis is to start a blog and start engaging (a true story that lead to a large stupid agency losing a large portion of the business of a client in finance), it's obvious that the agency or consultant has no idea what they are doing.

I blame the disappearance of the PR generalist and the rise of the specialist. It's the death of PR, and is getting worse with the silo-ing of talent. When I started PR, we had to be able to write, pitch, cold-call, do media AND analyst relations ... or we were pretty much told our career would go down one path of a specialist - with a sneer.

Don't call me a social media specialist or expert. I'm a mutha-fucking generalist.

But, hey, watch BlogPotomac here tomorrow - here on my blog!! You can watch me say no and ask why, see what I'm wearing, and talk about the Tao of Why in social media.


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