Getting to know you — Social Media Style

Posted on October 14, 2009. Filed under: Jazz, Public Relations Marketing, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , |


Today in my search for musical blogging inspiration, I decided just to close my eyes and thrust my hand into a CD shelf and pull one out at random. Spooky. I pulled out ‘Getting to Know You’ – an album by virtuoso jazz pianist Mulgrew Miller. Click to hear his interpretation of the title song which you may have first heard sung by children in The King and I.

Now anyone who read my last post knows that the featured artist was Mark Murphy. Today, by chance, we have another MM artist. You should all thank your lucky stars that I don’t have Marilyn Manson in my collection (except for Marilyn Manson fans, of course). And I don’t think that Mickey Mantle or Marilyn Monroe ever recorded anything of note – Happy Birthday Mr. President doesn’t count. Hopefully, we’ll break the MM streak next time. In fact, I give you my solemn promise.

What strikes me silly is the appropriateness of the ‘Getting to Know You’ theme. Ironically, that’s what we’re doing here. You’re getting to know me by my blogs and I’m getting to know you by your comments. The song title is a great metaphor for how we connect on the Web.

The other web and social media thing about this is that you’re getting to know the REAL me. As a PR person in the traditional practice of the profession, I was always behind the scenes. I’d cringe to find myself quoted in the media when it would have been more appropriate and informative in my view for my client to do the honors.

In terms of client representation, I think that still holds true. In terms of learning how to present and represent clients in a Web 2.0 world, there is something to be learned and altered.

Last week at Chris Brogan and Justin Levy’s Inbound Marketing Summit in Boston, I was speaking with Tim Marklein, Executive VP, Measurement & Strategy for Weber Shandwick. After a couple of presentations that pretty much declared PR dead and gone, Tim focused his presentation on advocacy, a PR approach that still has great merit. Not only that, but it translates perfectly into 2.0 PR representation.

As we conversed on what PR ideas are still applicable and which are gone, I offered that the content area is one where PR shines. We know how to ‘tell the story’. And we also make the case in a way that helps others feel comfortable endorsing our clients’ positions.

What else I shared with Tim – a concept he said he hadn’t heard in just that way before – is that as PR people we have been uber-protective of our clients. Probably, this gave birth to the notion of ‘spin’ – anathema to how I’ve always thought about client representation. As PR people we have an obligation to support – advocate – a client’s valuable point of view. It does not serve them well to adjust that view, fail to adjust it when necessary, or worse, fail to engage, in the face of external expectations, criticism or real life events. Over-protectiveness – smoothing it over – is particularly ill-suited to the Web 2.0 world where genuine human fallibility, mistakes, and vulnerability are valuable currency. In working with clients who want to engage on the Web, I encourage more real talk than corporate speak.

In other words, let’s really get to know each other. We’re basically good people. How bad can it be??

For those who are into today’s tune, personnel are, Mulgrew Miller, Steinway concert grand piano (should I put Steinway in the tags?), Richie Goods, bass, Karriem Riggins, drums, Big Black, congas, Steven Kroon, percussion.

Enjoy! See you soon!

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2 Responses to “Getting to know you — Social Media Style”

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Thanks for the shout-out, Ellie. I enjoyed our talk at IMS in Boston, and look forward to future discussions.

What struck me in our conversation was your use of the term “protect” rather than “control.” All too often, I hear at social media events that PR people have to “give up control” in social media — as if we ever had control in traditional media or public affairs or WOM, etc. I never presumed we had that control, and in fact, I believe that’s why PR is such an interesting and valuable part of the communications and marketing mix. For the most part, we know how to navigate market conversations and communities w/o the control that most marketing disciplines have over the message or the medium.

“Protect” strikes me as a more apt description of the challenge, since most PR people are trained to protect their clients from bad news or bad commentary. Most have been trained to pursue positive at the expense of negative — and avoid bad stories like the plague. Of course, the reality of social media and the broader public/private discussion is that there’s always a mix of good, neutral and bad (with some ugly thrown in for good measure). Knowing how to navigate that mixed terrain with confidence — and not with fear or an over-protective tendency — is an important evolution for the PR discipline to embrace.

Really, what a clever marriage of two great passions! Pairing the love of music, especially jazz, and the PR field on the surface may seem like a stretch. However, your creative approach to leveraging social media says volumes about your talent and forwardminded thinking — all wrapped up in a very entertaining, engaging, informative package. Bravo to you, especially in an era where little is truly fresh and most marketing ideas are simply repackaged concepts lacking uniqueness. Your blog is truly different.

Can’t wait to hear what inspires you from the next CD you grab off the shelf!

Mindy Powell
Marketing Research Consultant


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