What Is Social Media & Why Traditional PR Doesn’t Work

From the ARCHIVES. Written July, 2011.

What Is Social Media & Why Traditional PR Doesn’t Work — written July 2011.

What Is Social Media? And Why Traditional PR Doesn't Work.
What Is Social Media? And Why Traditional PR Doesn’t Work.

The Democratization of the Media Landscape

Numerous media experts have pointed out that we’re witnessing a democratization(1) of the media landscape.

Passive consumers have turned into active users and producers — and web 2.0 technologies enable everyone to cheaply or freely create their own media channel — Facebook profiles, blogs, podcasts, vlogs, microblogs.

Industrial media placed media power in the hands of few people — newspaper owners, broadcast companies, national radios. The democratization process leads to proliferation, which, in turn, leads to clutter.

Technorati analyses have shown that during a period of three months in 2010, 7 million blogs were created — the blogs contained 900,000 posts — and this generation of new media channels took place during one 24 hour period.

Also see: Marketing Needs Reinvention.

Socail Media & The Attention Economy
Attention has become a scarcity. If one subscribes to a mild kind of linguistic determinism, it could be argued that by changing how we communicate — and how information can be aggregated, syndicated, dissemminated & analyzed — we change society.

A McCann survey has shown that 83% watch video clips on a regular basis. 78% read blogs. 57% are members of social networks.

The percentage of RSS users has grown from 15% to 39% in a year. Podcast have become mainstream.

Darwinian Struggle for Attention
The Darwinian struggle for attention is taking place between the search engines, offering contextual and relevant results, the social networks, offering collaboration & social proof platforms, and the recommendation engines, offering powerful endorsement platforms.

Industrial Media
Writing writers
Limited number of media channels
Editorial control
High barrier of entry
Passive consumers
Expert proof
Expert intelligence

Social Media
Writing readers
Proliferation of media channels
Messages take on lives of their own
Low barrier of entry
Active user producers
Social proof
Collective intelligence

What Is Social Media?
“Social Media is the democratization of content and the shift in the role people play in the process of reading and disseminating information (and thus creating and sharing sontent). Socail Media represents a shift from a broadcast mechanism to a many-to-many model, rooted in conversational format.”(2)

Participation is marketing!
Participation is branding!
Participation is influence!(3)

Why Traditional PR Doesn’t Work

1) The PR firm doesn’t understand the product or technology
2) The PR firm is seen as a spinner, blocker, or gatekeeper to access the CEO /CTO/brain trust.
3) The PR firm hasn’t been properly trained on how to communicate with bloggers or Social Media.
4) The PR firm prefers working with a few big taditional media instead of lots of smaller online media and online channels.
5) The PR firm doesn’t understand SEO, SEM, widgets, blogs, tags, social networks, pictures, video, or other online and viral methods.
6) Most PR folks have no clue what the hell a TechMeme is.  (4)

(1) “What characterizes the networked information economy is that decentralized individual action – specifically, new and important cooperative and coordinate action carried out through radically distributed, nonmarket mechanisms that do not depend on proprietary strategies – plays a much greater role than it did, or could have, in the industrial information economy”

Benkler, Yochai (2006). The Wealth of Networks: How Social Production Transforms Markets and Freedom.

(2) Brian Solis: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, 2009, p. xvii.

(3) Ibid., p. xix

(4) Dave McClure, Silicon Valley tech entrepreneur, quoted in (2), ibid., p. 10-11.