This is the third installment of a weekly four part series that asks four questions about the relationship between PR and social media in 2009. This week I’ve been lucky enough to get the thoughts of Sarah Blow.
Sarah Blow is the founder of the Girl Geek Dinners community. The community is built on the foundations of new media technology and community engagement and is a thought leader in this areas. Sarah’s background is as a software engineer in the medical devices industry however she also has an active interest in online media, community, mobile and embedded devices. You may have heard Sarah on Radio 4 or on BBC World Service from time to time talking about Girl Geek Dinners and technology. You can also follow Sarah on Twitter and read some of her posts over on the GirlyGeekdom blog.
I would argue that 2008 has been the year of Twitter – what do you think will be the big social media development in 2009?
For 2009 I anticipate a lot more social community spaces popping up which are supported by the likes of twitter, linkedin, wordpress and so on. In terms of what companies to look at for 2009 I’d keep my eyes open for some new fun IPhone Apps and innovation around mobile devices. So far no-one has really broken the mobile video barriers down really well so I’m looking to that sort of area to see what comes up.
What do you think is the best way for PRs and marketeers to use Twitter to build relationships with journalists?
Join in with the conversations, don’t just hide in the background like an anonymous follower. Talk to the journalists, find out what sort of things interest them, what stories hit their areas of passion and challenge one another. Also please remember that anything in the public domain (including things you publish on twitter) can be re-published by journalists! This could be positive or negative. Hearsay and rumour are fast entering into press and as a PR you need to control the message, ideally before things go to press. Keep an eye on twitter for keywords relating to the companies and products you represent. They can be an invaluable way of managing customer perception and the press can pick up on these things!
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?
If a client tries to force a PR to use twitter to broadcast their messages but doesn’t engage with the community i.e. they are using it as an alternative RSS feed then they should be educated on the potential and power of twitter. This includes the power to destroy a companies reputation if Twitter is misused! Twitter is about engagement as much as the messages being sent out to those following. There is a place for company twitter feeds but they have to have a relevant audience that is on twitter in the first place!
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?
My top tip for PR’s approaching bloggers is that they should be genuine, open and honest about what they are trying to do. Let the bloggers know what is expected of them but remember that not all bloggers write full time and many have a day job that pays the bills. As such don’t demand too much but do give them a good incentive to help you out. A blogger can either ignore you or engage with you. Choose the right approach and the right subject material and you will build a good relationship with them. (going back to the first question… what’s going to be big in 2009 – relationship and community engagement!)
Many thanks to Sarah for taking the time to answer these questions! Next week, the views of Jaz Cummins.