Media Relations – The New World According to Brian Solis (from the ASAE Annual Meeting)

Brian Solis, one of the superstars in social media strategy, spoke at the ASAE Annual Meeting in San Diego last week. He talked about how public relations professionals can still influence opinion and behavior even though mainstream media is in its death throes.

Sadly, the session wasn’t recorded. But its content was too good to let it disappear. From my notes:

  • PR professionals have to be the new influencers. In the past, we influenced opinion and behavior mostly by reaching the influencers (reporters and editors). Now, we’re it. “We have to become experts in the industry we represent . …You should get really smart and passionate about the industry you represent. If you’re not, you should find another job.” (Gotta love that kind of straight talk.)
  • News releases aren’t just for reporters anymore. There is a bigger audience than just your A-list (or even B-list) reporters. Half of IT professionals get their daily updates from news releases on Yahoo or Google. So it’s still important to do your news releases right. One way – write them tight and bulleted, and weight them well with SEO keywords so they can be found.
  • Kill the ghost-written quotes. Puffery never had any value … even less today. If you must quote, make sure it’s compelling.
  • Getting on bloggers’ radar screens is art + science. You could buy lists, but Brian built his own list. How? Read on.
  • Some ways to build blogger relationships:
    • Leave comments as you vote on Digg
    • Make sure your headline rocks (SEO loves great <H1> headlines.)
    • Befriend a Power Digger, the same way you would befriend an A-list reporter. If a Power Digger notices you, they tell their networks. It’s almost impossible to get to Digg’s home page on your own.
    • Digg’s home page is solid gold. Brian says a home page listing on Digg “guarantees” you 10,000 to 30,000 unique visits within a single week. (whoa!) Getting placed on the home page of StumbleUpon gets you the same in about a month’s time.
  • Target the “Magic Middle” of bloggers. You could try to get to the Technorati Top 1000 (Brian is in the top 5000), but you’ll get more activity and more long lasting relationships with the Magic Middle (blogs with 20 to 2000 links) than with the A-listers.
  • Metrics: No consensus yet. But think “profits.” If your goal with metrics is to persuade the C-suite, then think – what do they care most about (hint: … sales? profits? membership? Yes, it’s that basic.) Then track back to the social activity that will move that number. For example: Have targeted landing pages for social media PR campaigns to track something like meeting registrations or product downloads.
  • Monitor the social network conversations! “Just because a conversation was taking place and you weren’t there to hear it, does that mean it didn’t happen?” Brian shared “The Conversation Prism,” a dastardly image that pulls together a sampling of the social networks on the web today. This where the conversations about your brand are happening. As Brian noted, “This is overwhelming to say the least.” The image is on Flickr. He’s going to publish a wiki soon that explains all of these in detail, to help you figure out what’s pertinent to your markets and conversations.
  • Twitter: Yes! At least 200 journalists use Twitter right now, Brian said. Do you need a better reason to do it? The 140-character limit focuses the pitch line like nothing else.
  • How do you find influencers on Twitter? On search.twitter.com, search any keyword that is specific to your industry. Do that keyword, plus conference, or plus events. You’ll see the people who are starting those conversations. Then find out who’s following them. Befriend them – not just for what they can do for you, but simply to start a conversation. It’s doing that over and over again, building relationships. (That’s not so different from traditional PR after all, is it?

(Sidebar: Ben Martin just wrote a provocative post about data mining on Twitter. He says it’s evil. Others (like Wes Trochlil) say it’s the price we pay for playing in social media. Reluctantly, I’m agreeing with Wes’ point of view. But as Bill Parcells said, I reserve the right to change my mind. This conversation isn’t over, by a long shot.)

Other resources

The Conversation Prism

The Social Media Manifesto

It was my personal privilege to moderate this session. Thanks to all who came and spoke up. And thanks especially to Brian and his co-panelist, Chris Jennwein, of Greenspun Interactive of Las Vegas.

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