Further to my rant the other day about the cluelessness of PR agencies in Australia, a fevered series of emails has crashed into your humble correspondent’s inbox.
Most of them are from agency seniors who took umbrage at my labelling of them. However, as they are all very experienced practitioners, they framed their comments in positive, non-combative language, which is fabulous and shows why they are at the top of the tree.
In distilling the wisdom from their communications I came to the following conclusions:
- PR and communication agencies ARE discussing Web2.0 with their clients, and these clients ARE interested.
- Of the many tactical solutions to communication challenges both within and outside an organisation, social media initiatives are not the quickest, simplest or cheapest. So, as Anthony Hasluck from Clarity says, "other things are being done first."
- Social media initiatives are resource intensive (no news there) and not everyone wants to contribute. This is something I have always said — only about ten percent of any population group will be content creators (‘prosumers’ in the new lexicon), the others will be the consumers and only a small percentage of these folks will actually ‘spread the news’.
- We are all time-poor — consultant, employer and employee alike. This creates two challenges: 1) no one has time to create and add additional material to their intranet/extranet/ internet/web2.0 offering without some other task having to be sacrificed; and 2) few people have the luxury of time to read blogs, listen to podcasts, watch vidcasts, contribute to wikis, etc.
Yet I argue that spending 15 minutes a day skim-reading through the headlines in your rss feed reader (FeedDemon, say, or Google Reader) can give you a personal edge over your competitors (even if they are in the same office as you), as well as enhance your life. You may be Joanne Juniper, the Accounts Junior, and think that blogs and stuff are irrelevant to you in your current role, but what about a future role? Wouldn’t it be handy to have knowledge about industry trends, about possible future employers, about what the industry pundits think will be the implications of a piece of legislature the Government is considering introducing?
You may have the luxury of driving yourself to work each day, but as fuel prices increase that luxury may not last; car pooling, public transport (woeful as it usually is) and even home-working will become larger features in your life. So while you are sitting in the passenger seat in the pool car, or sitting on the bus, train or tram, or saving yourself that hour-long commute by wandering over to your laptop in your pyjamas, you have the opportunity to update yourself on the incredible world you live in.
I also appreciate the resistance from employees who feel imposed upon if they are ‘encouraged’ to contribute. They probably won’t get paid for it, nor rewarded in any way. This is an issue we touched on in a recent edition of Mark Jones’ superb podcast ‘The Scoop’ (the most subscribed-to and downloaded business podcast in Australia, according to iTunes). There is no doubt this is a management headache.
But if it were such a headache how have companies like British Telecom, American Electric Power, ING, National Research Council of Canada, IBM, Microsoft, Nortel, Altana and many more solved it, because those companies have high participation rates in their internal web2.0 initiatives?
[More details about these initiatives in the Melcrum report ‘How to use social media to engage employees’, to which I contributed some material.]
- PR and communication agencies are atrocious at self-promotion. This is probably more of a general cultural problem than one particular to our industry; we have that ‘British’ reluctance to ‘blow our own trumpet’ lest we be seen as egomaniacal. But if the industry reached out to the pundits, such as your humble scribe, to let them know what work IS being done, then we ALL (agency and general industry reader alike) would be able to puff out our collective chests in pride, certainly more so than the industry does at the moment, what with one ethical and reputational scandal after another.
Perhaps the agencies could make more of a ‘blogger outreach’ effort to keep folks like me informed.
I thank all of the folks who emailed me to join in this discussion, and who contributed to the comments in my previous post about this. I particularly thank Anthony Hasluck from Clarity Communications and Antonia Christie from Text100 for their insights, views and hopes about this issue.
I close with Anthony’s closing comments in one of his many erudite emails to me (from sunny downtown Seattle, no less!):
I understand your frustration but a lot of people do actually "get it" with blogs. They are just not going to "do it" right now.
The solution, find some way of turning off all the other electronic crap everyone gets hit with in their daily lives and then blogs may come into their own.
A lovely idea, but it will probably never happen, so we’d just better get used to finding ways of filtering the information and receiving it in ways that work for us (and acknowledging that what works for me may not work for you, and what works for me one day may not work for me the next).
ING, National Research Council of Canada, IBM, Microsoft, Nortel, Altana, business communication, mark jones, the scoop, itunes, podcasts, business, melcrum, social media marketing, clarity communications, anthony hasluck, text100, antonia christie, pr consultant, lee hopkins