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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  1. Hi Jeremy,

    Looking forward to meeting you at Blog Potomac tomorrow.



  2. Excellent, Jeremy. Always happy when you come back to the keyboard.

    Why? Such a simple question, yet rarely asked, it seems.

    Engage. Simple to say, yet too often left undefined or unachieved.

    Will you forgive me a few personal examples?

    Yesterday, we had a grandmother sign into the ASCCA social network. She related that "Camp has been such an important part of our family's life." And, she spoke of her memories of "touring the campus with my grandson when he was little, seeing it through his eyes." Finally, she related how her "grandson still comes to (the diabetic camp) as A Senior Counselor."

    Then, there was the mother of Michelle (a camper) who "has attended camp since she was 10 and she is about to turn 16. She has hopes of being a counselor one day."

    Finally, a mother of two wrote her own blog post about "My Boys At ASCCA." She relates that "I feel lucky to have them both at ASCCA."

    All of them are writing about their children with such pride. They are happy to have a community where they can share.

    OK, to me - those are all answers to the "why" and "engagement" ideals.

  3. good post-your opening made me flash on Denzel Washington's lawyer character in the Philadelphia Story. You know ,"explain it to me like I'm 13..."

    So many buzzwords being thrown around these days it sounds like a friggin beehive.

    Your mom in Phoenix too? Small world.pi

  4. "We must not allow a mineshaft gap!"

  5. Jeremy:

    1) You are the Herbert Kornfeld of PR (

    2) The "why" stuff-- a ton of common sense, but no reason not to keep swinging that hammer. Even those of us who think we don't need to hear it, need to hear it.

    3) "Complementary" - this is the concept that drives me to comment-- I cannot let that pass without adding my voice in agreement. Not a big fan of slicing off social media. It's media! Not a big fan of specialization (but surely there are places for it)- I am a communicator, not a blogger/Twitterer/whateverer.

    4) Give 'em hell at Blog Potomac, and hello to everyone else down there.

  6. Jeremy - you mutha-fucking generalist! And I mean that in the best possible way. Knock 'em dead at Blog Potomac.
    -Ann Marie

  7. Why? is pretty verbose. Couldn't you just have put ?

    Yes, I'm being a jerk. I think it is a question people do not ask enough.

  8. Jeremy. Great hanging with you at Blog Potomac. Our conversation where we speculate on why Santa hates Jewish kids here:

  9. Good stuff! Thanks, Jeremy. It's good to remember to ask why, and if the strategy doesn't make sense, don't be afraid to say no.

    Herbert Kornfeld? Perhaps... I just think you can take the man out of Detroit, but you can't take Detroit out of the man. :-)

  10. jeremy, just found your blog. love it. like your mom, i'm a realtor, but i blog with purpose, not just because some consultant told me to. i blog to uncover the truth about the marketplace, so that people can make better decisions about whether/when to buy or sell. this honesty draws people, which has attracted business, which is the only way i see to make it work. if you give your best knowledge without expectation, you end up receiving down the line. like at robert's website. maybe the answer is that if you give honestly without expectation, over time you create engagement. at least, that has been my experience.


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