Does anyone remember where they were on September 10, 2001? Neither can I. But just
about everyone can remember where they were on the morning of September 11. How
did you hear about the attacks on the World Trade Center?
This is how 9/11 was reported. It was live on CNN and other TV networks. It was reported
on the radio. It was on web sites. It was in newspapers. You may remember some of these
This is how some people remmeber 9/11 today. Do you remember these images? You
mean they’re not real? They’re fakes? But I got them off the Web! They must be true! The
blogs said so! They were on Flickr! There’s videos on YouTube! My Facebook Friend has
them posted in a scrapbook. One of my Twitter followers sent me a tweet about them. I got
it on my iPhone just now.
Actually, all of these photos are fake, ripped from conspiracy theory blogs.
You see before 9/11 if I wanted to communicate I had fewer channels. Mail, phone, fax, e‐
mail, website. Maybe text, maybe chat, maybe point‐to‐point videoconference.
To get news I had to rely on the news media. The networks on TV, radio and newspapers,
and their web sites. News from the common man trickled out on cell phones and texts, and
many of the towers were jammed.
Today I have a blog. I could have a Myspace, but that s so last week. I have a YouTube
Today I have a blog I could have a Myspace but that’s so last week I have a YouTube
channel. I have a Facebook fan club. I have a Twitter. I have multi‐point videoconferencing
with Windows Live.
You can be your own media conglomerate. You are the editor, director, producer and
publisher. You can say anything you want to say.
I can broadcast all I want, but that is not what Social Media is all about. Social Media is
about creating shared experiences. 9/11 became a shared experience because of its
enormity. Now there are many little shared experiences going on all the time.
In PR our ultimate goal is two‐way communication to develop mutually beneficial
relationships. News is one‐way, I inform you. Publicity is one way, you look at me.
Advertising is one way, you need to buy this. Only PR has the ability to adapt to social
media. Social media puts the PR practitioner and the audience on a level playing field. In
media Social media puts the PR practitioner and the audience on a level playing field In
fact, now the audience may have more control because they can avoid the interruptions
that news, publicity and advertising cause. In PR, we don’t want to interrupt, we just want
to talk over a cup of coffee or whatever. Watch CNN Headline News as they try to work out
how to do this on an international scale.
Our advantage as PR pros is that we are usually a jack‐of‐all‐trades, master of none.
Whenever we have a message to communicate, we need to think in a mini‐PR campaign. It
used to be RACE – Research, Audience, Communicate and Evaluate. And back to the
beginning. Has that changed? How?
Part of our challenge is the speed of communication now. We have little time to build trust.
Are you the expert in your field? Do you know your organization inside and out? Or do you
at least know who to go to for the answers?
at least know who to go to for the answers?
See – anyone can broadcast. We all have the power. But is anyone listening? And if they
are, what are their reactions?
As professional public relations practitioners (say that 10 times fast) we are concerned as
much about the reaction as we are the message. We are about dialog that produces win‐
What separates us from the rest?
What separates us from the rest?
Professional quality and ethics.
I’m going to assume we’re all professionals, since we’re here at PRSA. I want to encourage
all of you to get your APR letters, they will mean more in today’s wild west, shoot from the
hip, social media blogosphere. It means you know how to make a plan and execute it to
So let s look at the Ethics for the rest of our time today. I want to touch on these items
So let’s look at the Ethics for the rest of our time today I want to touch on these items
because we’re going to have to stand up for what’s right as our organizations attempt to
navigate social media.
You’ve already seen some of the Revisionist History circulating about 9/11. There will be
people who attempt to publish revisionist history about your organization. Now everyone
has “spin.” Wikipedia has to fight this all the time, and they just announced a push to purge
revisionist history from their articles. Personally, I’ve tried to edit an official Wikipedia entry
about Glass Doctor 5 times in the past 2 years and they keep rejecting it as “company
advertising.” All I’m trying to do is post my press release boilerplate. Is that so bad? But
anyone can get on there right now and say Glass Doctor put lasers in people’s eyes when
measure them for eyeglasses. And we don t even use lasers anymore. So don t go revising a
measure them for eyeglasses And we don’t even use lasers anymore So don’t go revising a
competitor’s history, you wouldn’t want someone to do it to you. Has your organization
been a victim of revisionist history?
How about rumors? They happen all the time. Let’s look at some recent fodder in the
As the PR pro, how would you fight the rumors? Even worse, what if the rumors are true?
What if the story got out and your boss never told you?
How do we even know the About.com story is true? I found a story in the Arizona Republic
that corroborates the About.com story. Assuming that is true.
By the way – Hershey’s CEO at the time of the plant closings announced his retirement
effective the end of 2007. The new CEO got a 40% raise in 2008 to $6.2 million for
improving the company’s bottom line.
No, no, no, ??? As the economy squeezes ad dollars for the news media they are falling into
this grey area trap. At the same time, companies looking for bargains are going with them. I
hope the last one was ethical, we have some Glass Doctor franchises doing that.
Let’s look at how PRSA’s ethics and values apply in this case. Information gets limited only
those who can pay. Sources can be hidden. The media’s conflict of interest damages the
public trust. It hurts the reputation of both journalists and PR professionals. From a values
standpoint, most pay for play stories are not fact checked and usually full of opinion. If
you’re in a PR agency, you lose your objectivity.
A recent example of Pay for Play is the controversy over mommy bloggers accepting free
samples in exchange for favorable product reviews on their blogs. The FTC is even
considering regulating bloggers, because essentially Pay for Play is a deceptive trade
practice. A journalist must disclose whether or not they received a free sample and how
much the sample is worth. So is a mommy blogger a journalist? A PR pro? A consultant? A
hired gun? Child’s Play Communications is very open about the companies they represent
and that you can be paid for reviewing their products. But is it ethical?
Pay for Play is big on PRSA’s ethics agenda right now. Flogs are another hot issue
nationwide. Are these actions ethical? They are all true. Hopefully you think the last one is
ethical. Yes, that’s me again.
Here’s the official PRSA definition of a flog. Basically it goes beyond propaganda to
deceptive trade practices. There are federal laws against that.
These are some famous flog cases. Most reputable companies learned from these
mistakes. Most floggers learned from these mistakes. But not all.
There’s pressure to flog because everyone is trying to drive up their SEO. Now that
consumers have more power to pick and choose their products and vendors, and there is a
greater variety of products and vendors, the competition to be the 1st organic pick on
Google is intense. All of these things may not be unethical, but they can be unprofessional
if the content is low quality.
Google is changing its search technology and I’m already seeing it in the organic searches.
I’m seeing individual blogs and articles being picked up before companies and respected
official sources such as government and education. Google better watch what they are
doing because now they have the power to shift the economy, how products and services
are bought and sold.
Eventually someone will come to you to develop the Social Media Employee Use Policy.
Hopefully they give it to you and not the lawyers. This is your chance! You are the
organization’s conscience. These are the main points from our Social Media Policy at The
At the same time we gave everyone a Netiquette guide. With the policy, you can enforce
that, it’s more specific. This is more vague. You may not have the ability to put a policy in
place. But you can at least guide people with the Netiquette.
Another good idea is to create your own job description as it relates to using Social Media.
This slide is general guidance.
This slide is more strategic. At some point you will have to be intentional. You have to think
about not only your messages you want to communicate, but how you will solicit
responses to create conversation. Why did I throw those ads and YouTube videos in this
presentation? Because that’s the attitude of a lot of folks about Social Media. It was
irritating, wasn’t it? You can’t just interrupt a conversation with an ad or a press release.
You have to start a conversation or enter a conversation. Let’s look at an example of a new
Social Media PR campaign.
The Allstate social media PR campaign is a great example of what is possible. However, this
campaign doesn’t even register a blip on the Quantcast li t All t t ’
i d ’t it bli th Q t t list. Allstate’s main web site averages 1.2
i b it 12
million visits a month. So what are they doing wrong? This is not an INTEGRATED marketing/PR
campaign. This is solely driven by who discovers it through the social media. It wants to be “viral.”
But if you want to reach people faster, you still need the advertising, the traditional PR, the
publicity, the news. Social media is not replacing traditional communications. It is adding the direct
feedback component and it can give life to things on its own. It is “word of mouse.” And it’s not
going away. I like to think those of us who use Social Media professionally, ethically and responsibly
will be successful.
To help you get started, here are some of the books I’ve read this summer. I’m not quite done with
Solis yet, he does a great job of explaining all the tools and he comes at it from a sociology mindset
– not a PR/marketing/advertising mindset – which is interesting. David Meerman Scott was eye
opening for me when I read it in January and I’ve been trying to get there ever since, it’s been
tough because I still have to do a lot of old job. He is looking at it from the PR/marketing
perspective, similar to Customer Relationship Management and online guru Seth Godin. This
Facebook book is now a year old and Facebook has changed some since then, but it’s a good guide
to getting on there because it is not the most intuitive, user‐friendly interface. It’s really pretty lean
i h b i i h i ii f i dl i f I’ ll l
and mean and text link dependent. Social Media Marketing is the next on my list because I want to
see how this guy does it in an hour a day. I’m spending 2 or 3 on Twitter, blogs and Facebook.
But here’s my dilemma – without advertising or publicity announcing our presence, attracting
curiosity seekers, Social Media is a slow grow. You have to have a really sexy product or service.
Unfortunately, being sexy is playing with fire, and we are being cautious as we try to get a handle
on the changing landscape.
In the interest of full disclosure, I must let you know where my information came from.
And this photo is from the official AMC Mad Men web site.