This is the first of a weekly four part series that asks four questions about the relationship between PR and social media and what to expect in 2009.
This week I’ve been lucky enough to get the thoughts of Laurent François.
Laurent is a Digital Influence Strategist @ Ogilvy Public Relations Worldwide and a member of the 360° EMEA Digital Influence team. Fluent in four languages, Laurent writes two blogs, the English Social Media (re)Loaded and the French Citizen L.
I would argue that 2008 has been the year of Twitter – what do you think will be the big social media development in 2009?
There’s one thing to consider. Social media are not yet mass media, moreover in Europe or Africa. Every Nielsen studies prove it: many people don’t even know they’re using a social media. Twitter is very tiny in France, some thousands active users. I’d say that 2009 will be the year of more people aware and involved in social media. Moreover, until 2008, we’ve talked a lot about “communities”. I definitely think that 2009 will be the year of affinity. What does it mean? That an heterogeneous community of people can work together on a same interest, on a same affinity. Affinities are far beyond where you’re from and represent a direction. It’s far more interesting from a PR point of view: you can build new kinds of groups.
What do you think is the best way for PRs to use Twitter to build relationships with journalists?
Twitter is a good tool, once you’ve already built a relationship. There’s nothing less natural than receiving a commercial release. So before finding the “magic tool” or killer application, you first need to do as in a cocktail party: introduce yourself, listen first, and only then start talking about you and your clients. I’d say that Twitter is good for specific journalists. IT guys, online press journalists maybe. Otherwise emails and phone calls are still very good.
What sort of risk do you think there is of PRs being ‘forced’ to use Twitter by their clients to broadcast their messages, and will this lead to companies auto-following each other to see what they’re upto whilst the rest of us ignore them?
I see your point…it’s one of our job as PR professional to tell our client when it’s a wrong way. If you come to your client with a strategic approach, with a vision and with proofs to measure what would be a reason of success, I definitely think that the client understands your point. Moreover, when your client comes and asks for a Twitter tactics, most of the time what he really asks for is a social media strategy.
Last one! PR has managed to get itself into quite a tangle with bloggers this year, such as TechCrunch and Lois Whitman-Hess – what’s your top tip to PRs approaching bloggers?
I would say that we have to apply to our work what we would accept as citizens. What’s really important in terms of PR and influence, it’s not the “top” traffic generators like TechCrunch, but more probably all the guys deeper in the long tail. Why that ? Because they represent the “true” citizens, who have a passion and who write about it not to generate a huge amount of cash but just to testify and get some experience. If you can get an authentic relationship with these guys, it means 2 things: first that your product is good and secondly that the relationship you’ve built has a strong basis.
Many thanks to Laurent for taking the time to answer these questions!
Next week, the views of Chris Brogan.