One of the advantages of social public relations is how organizational profile can increase beyond self-hosted brand journalism to platforms owned and operated by others as a result of mindful choices by both parties—the information-sharing relationship and opportunity regarding original content is more equal than the gatekeeper role, and independent reporting and financial filtering goals, of traditional media.
I don’t mean simply product or service marketing or promotion, i.e., sales copy masquerading as information. Beyond serving as filler copy to feed the online beast, promotional copy doesn’t really benefit the secondary platform(s) in terms of a reputation for originality or quality. And it’s why the online version of Forbes and the Harvard Business Review blogs, etc., have been rightly criticized (see suggestion #4) for allowing too many “new” book authors and product or service marketers to use these platforms for thinly disguised promotion.
Hands-on experience, novel opinions, how-to articles and best practices that have not appeared anywhere else—at least not with that focus or interpretation—should be the understanding and goal at the onset of increasing profile and enhancing thought leadership, organizationally and personally.
Another advantage is increasing or enhancing the circumference or web of original content and ideas, i.e., body of knowledge or mindshare.
Of course the disadvantage of spreading your original content and critical thinking across social is the increased possibility of plagiarism and scraping, as written about so decisively by Heather Yaxley.
One also has to guard against self-plagiarism, in terms of pitching something to a third-party as “new content,” whereas it’s actually the same advice gussied up with a few fresh words and examples or a reorganization of presentation. Ubiquity of content and stale ideas that haven’t evolved—even when your own—are easy to determine, thanks to online search.
It’s much better and more honest to point to the original article and demonstrate how your ideas and thinking have evolved or changed since first iteration, which might even be documented in a variety of online ports of call, particularly if oriented towards different audiences.
Ensure fidelity to the focal point
As the (social public relations) contributor to secondary platforms, a proviso is that the organization or entity (in this case study, primarily the PR Conversations blog) must remain the centre or primary focal point from which the radial lines emanate.
When I accept (or occasionally pitch) a guest post assignment or interview, I’m always thinking about my entire body of work of original content across the interwebs. As PR Conversations was my first (I was invited by blog founder Toni Muzi Falconi to participate, effective its launch in 2007) and remains my primary (collaborative) property, I want to ensure fidelity to our Redux version of mindful goals, intentions and vision about public relations, even when contributing to another platform or when I’m articulating my own thoughts or ideas that may differ in interests or interpretation from the other current principals.
And providing information of value and use to others, particularly when based on experience and examples, is always a primary goal.
Evolving and growing original ideas for B2B social capital parity and endorsements
May 2013 marks my 21st monthly column on social public relations published on Windmill Networking [update: which is now Maximize Social Business]. I accepted the role—I’m currently the longest-serving contributor—with the understanding that it would be focused on social PR, that I would produce 100 per cent original content and that columns would not be reproduced verbatim anywhere else.
Although I’ve made use of PR Conversations to link to and/or promote my monthly column, what it has meant is that I haven’t spent much time on this blog writing about social public relations. As co-content editor, however, I have sourced and worked with guest contributors on this area and did a two–part “conversational” post with Heather Yaxley around social.
Because at the core I believe social media forms a part of effective integrated communication/public relations for organizations, most of the time I have no regrets about this segmentation in my body of work; however, there have been a few columns that didn’t get much traction on Windmill Networking and where I wondered whether they would have resonated more on PR Conversations or elsewhere.
One such “you could hear the crickets chirping” column was my fifth one (February 2012), where I provided “social capital” suggestions to institutionalize parity in B2B relationships.
I’m still not sure why it failed to resonate.
Maybe the title wasn’t sexy enough. Perhaps, at that time, so many in social media were still focused on B2C social opportunities and challenges, rather than B2B.
Windmill Networking is a highly trafficked blog, but maybe not enough visitors were interested in social public relations relating to in-house B2B (i.e., maybe agency marketers or sales representative comprised the majority of traffic).
Perhaps my ideas were too radical for the time: devoting organizational social capital to other companies, even if those of clients and partners.
Flash forward 16 months where B2B is receiving a lot more attention in social, but companies that provide products or services to public relations practitioners are not following my prescient advice for the most part. In fact, when I reached out privately to some B2B companies (with whom I had a good present or past, client and/or social relationship) to offer constructive criticism about whom they were highlighting in social, not only was I not listened to (per the Melbourne Mandate), but I received some scathing rejoinders and excuses and had my own motivations and reputation questioned.
For the record, responding in that fashion—whether publicly or privately—isn’t endearing; nor does it do much to promote a future relationship of organizational championing or unquestioning social PR.
Finding the right pitcher to hold nutritious lemonade (derived from lemon reactions)
It was time to update my social capital parity concept now that it was tested in terms of continued relevance, worthiness and case studies. Because I’m still exploring different Bytes areas on Windmill Networking and based on the reception on the first go-round, my column section didn’t appear to be the right platform to evolve the concept or update my advice.
PR Conversations was the first and logical place to consider, particularly because of how much we value our “champions” (which I explain more about in the Part II article), but what I really wanted to do this time was to flip the premise around from appealing to the source B2B companies to speaking to the client-side stakeholders and suggesting they get proactive. And this evolved to including new advice, resources and company examples of things that delighted me.
I determined a natural fit was CommPRObiz, an online industry publication that under Fay Shapiro (now publisher/editor) has championed PR Conversations since its own launch (and also supports my social PR column and other contributors on Windmill Networking).
An acronym for “Communications Professional Resources Online,” CommPRO.biz is the destination for the answers marketing communications professionals need to be successful, whether they’re in public relations, investor relations, corporate communications, marketing, advertising or social media.
So I pitched the idea, which was immediately, unquestioningly and enthusiastically accepted by Fay Shapiro.
CommPRObiz suggests articles of 700 words, but I had so much to say and so many resources to detail and link to that I couldn’t possibly do it in one article. So it expanded to two articles…both of which ended up exceeding the suggested limit.
Part I was more of an OpEd, to establish the background (including a reference and link to my original column) and context to my argument.
Part II focused on concrete suggestions for in-house communicators, and offered up two resources I endorse and use: Paper.li (which we use for PR Conversations) and GaggleAMP (which I know/use through Windmill Networking).
My three-very-different examples of who is doing things right in a social capital and innovative fashion include the #cxo Twitter Chat (hosted by an IBM company), CPRS crowdsourcing its Conversations2013 program and the Stratford Festival’s spot-on use of play-based Twitter feeds.
Did it work?
“CommPRO’s mission is to be connecting the right content with our audience. It needs to be win-win. CommPRO.biz reaches more than 75,000+ professionals with its “Daily Headlines” [enewsletter] and enjoys more than 30,000+ site visitors per month.”
Wow, did we ever both win, at least from a relevant-readership perspective.
Record-setting home runs in fact.
The typical article on CommPRObiz averages 500 readers.
Making Honest B2B Endorsements through Social PR, Part I saw more than six times the average readership or a 600 per cent increase.
Even more impressive, Making Honest B2B Endorsements through Social PR, Part II resonated with more than 16 times the average readership or a 1,600 per cent increase.
Although my articles weren’t the only reason, CommPRObiz had to upgrade its server because of recent increases in traffic! Editorial director Deborah Radman, APR, was even kind enough to recognize this win-win partnership, by including the articles and me in the Memorial Day….America’s Unofficial Start to Summer roundup.
Although Fay Shapiro and I don’t know the exact reasons why the articles resonated with so many, I think the quality of supplemental information—quickly and generously contributed by my resources and examples companies—helped, as did the effective promotion most did about both articles, in particular, by Paper.li and GaggleAMP.
I hope this post—which is itself more than double the recommended length—provides readers with more context and new value and ideas, beyond the first Windmill Networking iteration in 2012, as well as the more-recent CommPRObiz articles.
My goal in extending this further at my focal property was to influence your thinking…not only about when and where to devote your resources and pitching to secondary platforms, but to think of your organizational (or your own) profile, mindshare and original writing in a more holistic or organic fashion, fanning out or radiating in an ever-widening social PR circle.
Photo fidelity to the evolving concept
The reason I chose the first photo of the pitcher should be obvious in the context of this post’s theme. But did you notice that the stands appear to be relatively empty of fans? There was actually decent attendance that day, but the Rogers Centre (originally/formerly the SkyDome) is a huge facility and what you see are less desirable seating sections—offside, per se.
This second photo focuses on a team mascot and some of the best or most-desirable seats in the stadium. You can see this section was packed and the conditions for a baseball game ideal.
I remember The Jays also won that day….