FPRA 2010 Annual Conference: General Session A, The Changing Role of the PR Professional: A PR R(e)volution – Deirdre Breakenridge

FPRA Annual Conference

Bio: Deirdre Breakenridge is President and Executive Director of Communications at Mango! A veteran in the PR industry, Deirdre leads a creative team of PR and marketing executives strategizing to gain brand awareness for their clients through creative and strategic PR campaigns. She counsels senior level executives at companies including ASCO, Hershey, JVC, KRAFT, and Michael C. Fina. Deirdre is an adjunct professor at Fairleigh Dickinson University in Madison, New Jersey, where she teaches courses on Public Relations and Interactive Marketing for Global Business management program. She is author of four Financial Times/Prentice Hall business books: Putting the Public Back in Public Relations, PR 2.0: New Media, New Tools, New Audiences, The New PR Toolkit, Cyber Branding.

 Intro: Major changes are occurring in the media landscape with newspapers shifting content online, magazines ceasing operations, editorial positions being eliminated and journalists finding new career avenues, even becoming public relations professionals. PR professionals are faced with reinventing their own roles, as they shift from media facilitators and handlers to PR champions and influencers, as a result of PR 2.0 and social media communications. Suddenly, PR professionals are taking on new responsibilities within their organizations, which are not only exciting but also challenging at the same time. How does the PR industry change and grow and continue to raise its reputation? PR professionals must embrace and practice new PR and social communications for business.

From PR Past to Hybrid Power

 Everything from our traditional PR past is crucial – don’t abandon it, move it forward. The Hybrid is when traditional communications meets social media. PR is NOT dead; we are positioning ourselves to move away from the complacency of communications to the power of social media.

Broadcast messages don’t exist on the social media landscape. Social Media’s one on one interaction fosters two-way communication. Recognize that meaningful communication is a valuable resource and public relations professionals have the opportunity to earn newfound recognition.

The communications models have changed. Don’t follow the noise model anymore. There was so much noise even before Social Media. There is no noise in the evolutionary model, the hybrid model.  

Who is today’s “C” suite? It’s not the CEO, COO, CFO, CIO, CMO, or CTO. It’s the consumers.  Consumers drive and control the communication. Brands never had control to begin with, we just never heard about it. Now everything is out in the open – and archived!

Deidre explains these introductory points and the evolution of the Hybrid PR Professional in this blog post.

Deirdre delves into what makes a Hybrid PR Professional

On the way to becoming a hybrid PR professional, there are a few questions to consider for your organization/clients:

  • Have we evaluated our recent communications?
  • What’s working for us traditionally?
  • What’s working for us online?
  • What’s not working?
  • Have we listened/monitored the social media landscape?
  • Are there places that it would make sense to engage?
  • Who are we looking to reach?
  • What’s the best type of content to share?

With traditional PR, audiences are reached through impressions. With social media PR, audiences are reached through engagement. With hybrid PR, audiences are reached through all relevant avenues. But with all forms of PR, strategy is involved and Deidre has created a visual she calls the Social media Strategy Wheel to illustrate taking PR from the initial Audit/Discovery phase to Measurement. You can find the Social Media Strategy Wheel here.

From total inactivity to active creators of social media, there are steps of learning and involvement for the PR professional. Where are you on the Social Technographics Ladder? 

  • Creators: make social content go
  • Conversationalists: update status on networks
  • Critics: respond to content from others
  • Collectors: organize content for themselves or others
  • Joiners: connect in social networks
  • Spectators: read blogs, watch video, listen to podcasts
  • Inactives: neither create nor consume social content

Deirdre has identified a set of characteristics of the Hybrid PR Professional:

  • Social media “expert” (“expert” in quotes because there really is no such thing – we are all continually learning as it is a fluid field)
  • Sociologist
  • Market analyst/expert
  • Web marketer
  • Customer service representative
  • Relationship marketer
  • Viral marketer
  • Conversationalist/listener
  • Research librarian 

Where is the value in social media? The exact implications of social media still evade CMOs. Only 16% of professionals worldwide measure the ROI of their social media programs. But the value can be illustrated with these examples:

  • Gary Vaynerchuk grew his family business from $4mil to $50mil using social media. Read his story at his website.
  • Blendtec increased sales 5x with its “Will It Blend?” videos on YouTube.
  • Lenovo achieved coast savings of 20% reduction in call center activity as customers go to community website for answers
  • Dell sold 3m worth of computers on Twitter
  • Software company Genius reports that 24% of social media leads converted to sales opportunities
  • University of Texas’ MD Anderson Cancer Center witnessed a 9.5% increase in registrations using social media
  • eBay found that participants in online communities spend 54% more money than those who are  not

 Things the Hybrid PR Professional knows

  • When to use a news release vs. a social media release
  • The social media release capabilities across major wire services
  • The tools, knows when to blend them
  • The composition of the “new” online news rooms: went from archived news release documents to a media center including videos, bloggers, links to social media networks, engages through online communities
  • How to monitor, blends clipping services with dashboard platforms that measure across social media channels, filtered and neatly packaged, word clouds, buzz graphs
  • We’re still using email! But knows when to work in a real time collaborative platform and use team tools like SharePoint, etc.
  • What the changes from websites to web 2.0 sites entails
  • When to incorporate social media into events,  blending physical presence with the virtual one on sites like Foursquare
  • How to navigate Web 2.0 from build it yourself communities to interactive walls like IBM Corporation’s

In answer to a question from the audience about creating a social media policy, Deirdre referred to this blog post which contains a spreadsheet for establish a matrix to help you create a social media policy. She also suggested finding policies of an industry similar to yours and mapping your policy against theirs to determine best practices.

Contact:
Deirdre Breakenridge
President and Executive Director of Communications
Mango!
dbreakenridge@marketmango.com
@dbreakenridge

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