Yesterday morning I had the pleasure of addressing the Forum-Group, run by veteran PR practitioner Ted Matthews, on the subject of B2B social media.
While each of the approximately 25 audience members had various skill sets and experiences in social media, all were eager to learn best practices and the latest developments in the space. All agreed that journalism has changed significantly as a result of the financial pressures on the industry, especially those faced by print media.Given these changes to the communications landscape, the idea of communicating and engaging directly with target audiences was quite appealing.
While everyone understood the importance of practicing converged media focused on owned and earned media, the third component, native advertising, was still new and required explanation. Once it was made clear I was not discussing banner ads but native advertising promoting content and paid for on a cost-per-click basis, the relief and concept understanding became apparent. Influencing the influencers—a key feature of what we do here at the agency—was also of great interest. I also stressed that social media should receive the greatest share of their communications budget and attention, that the benefits are real, tangible and measureable. Many were a bit shocked by the suggestion but even more so when I said if they weren’t using social media to the fullest, then they were guilty of “malpractice.”
All were quite impressed by the case studies of social media work by Northwestern Mutual, Genentech, Cisco, American Express and Qualcomm. To me, the most exciting area practiced by these and other innovative companies is brand journalism. The idea of hiring high-caliber journalists to write a company’s brand vision and then to distribute that content in unique and exciting ways is a new direction for journalism, one in which journalists and PR professionals work together to produce spectacular work that is memorable, on message and moves target audiences in ways we never before thought possible.
Welcome to the new age of journalism and public relations.