Saturday, June 13, 2009

Learnings from National PR Conference

I attended this week PR National Conference here in Vancouver, BC at the Westin Bayshore hotel. I attended many sessions and helped organize the 80 fabulous volunteers.Highlights for me were ...

Brian Solis talking about social media and the new world of PR.

Social Media is bigger than simply integrating a Blogger Relations branch to your PR strategy. It’s an opportunity to engage directly customers and peers who either purchase or recommend the decisions of others. ... The new world of influence demands customer empathy, evangelism, passion, expertise, and knowledge – everything else is disposable and takes away from your focus and potential.”

Maple Leaf Food’s VP Communications Jeanette Jones had a good presentation about their listeria crisis last year. I wonder if they would have had such a positive rebound in customer purchases and reputation if they didn’t have such a great CEO spokesperson.

Lessons learned:

  • Accept responsibility. Have CEO face of company.
  • Lead with facts and be open.
  • Have communication vehicles in place such as CEO weekly note, employee conference calls, external blogs (this one decreases reliance on media to disseminate info)
  • Use social media such as YouTube as well as TV
  • Use research to improve communications such as consumer polling
  • Don’t over think communications and act immediately
  • Ensure bilingual capabilities
  • Leverage external experts and have relationships built now
  • Maintain communication post crisis – consumers don’t want to forget and nor should the company

Three members from PR Global Alliance, Dan Tisch (Cdn), Paul Mylrea (UK) and John Paluszek (US) talked about the future of PR.

Dan’s points were that PR professionals need to:

  • elevate the profession raising standards, sharing knowledge
  • dig deeper in the what, why, how of mass culture and
  • build business literacy
  • co-create messages and content with citizens now; interact 2-way

Dan said in another panel that Canada on the global stage has reputation of the ability to listen and adapt and not do the one campaign worldwide approach (like the US has a reputation to do).

5 step plan for Social media with Maggie Fox. Her presentation style is very conversational and she has a great sense of humour. I would have liked to see more case studies but she did provide some good information about social media.

  1. Listen – research the online communities and find out what they are talking about
  2. Content – what content gets shared in the community and what doesn’t
  3. Technology – what are they using, where are they, monitor conversations
  4. Metrics – unique monthly visits to website, etc.
  5. Managing risks – create a risk management plan and assign a likelihood ranking

And lastly make sure you share results formally and informally with internal teams. Common misconception that social media is free. It is not free when you consider the time needed to make it work.