What I Learned About Social Media News

Here’s the latest from me, Edward M. Bury, APR, aka the PRDude

Yesterday, I had the great fortune to attend a webinar, “Develop a Social Media News Strategy for Your Company: Follow. Share. Post.”  It was offered by the Public Relations Society of America, and it’s archived for PRSA Members who were unable to attend.

Webinar leader Steve Momorella, partner and co-founder of TEK Group International, offered some excellent insight into the difference between social media news and the traditional news all of us grew up with.

Okay.  A lot of us initially got our news from print and broadcast media.

Here are a few highlights that resounded with me:

  1. Social media news represents a true paradigm shift because information is exchanged and shared; it’s two-way conversation rather than one-way message.
  2. That means the lines have been blurred between who’s the producer, and who’s the consumer.
  3. Every company and organization has great stories to tell. Social media news gives you the ability to tell that story and the resources to drive the dialog.
  4. Perhaps the most successful social media news sites is the Huffington Post.  Of course it provides a very, very robust amount of content.  But it also offers Facebook and Twitter links right from its toolbar, and it offers lots of apps for hand-held devices, making it very easy to share news.
  5. An estimated 57% of Americans use social media sites, and an estimate 97% are consumers of news online.
  6. Ford and Starbucks follow lots of people on Twitter because they want their feedback and an opportunity to respond.  One of the premiere news organizations in the world, the New York Times, has 2.4 million Twitter followers but only follows 199.

These are all interesting statistics and observations. But the one that whacked me across the head was this:

  • 90% of online consumers are so-called “lurkers” who read and move on.
  • 9% add some content to social media sites.
  • 1% add most online content to social media sites.

As a public relations professional and communicator, I’ve fully embraced online communication and relish the opportunity to share my thoughts with whomever wants to read of share them with someone else.  I visit and add to my  profiles just about every day.

I trust that puts me in the 1 percentile.

A final thought: Back in the day, when all of us got our news from the “traditional” news sources, there was a practice designed to learn the “average” person’s perspectives on what was taking place in our world. It was called the man-on-the-street interview.

It’s still used today in some instances.   I hope it doesn’t go away.  It gives those 90% of the online population a way to share their thoughts.

Will the Real Edward (M.) Bury Please Stand Up

One of the best compliments I’ve received lately came from someone I had never met face to face; it came from the administrator of an online talent community.  The compliment: I — Edward M. Bury —  had a “great digital footprint.”

Didn’t know there was such a thing as a digital footprint, but I knew how I cultivated my online presence.  It was by diligently and effectively maintaining my profile and staying active on Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and other social media sites.   You also can find my profile on BrightFuse.com, an online talent community where I network and blog. And, of course, my footprint keeps expanding through this blog under the PRDude moniker, a forum for my thoughts on public relations-related topics and my search for that next great job in the industry.

Search for me on Google, Bing or Yahoo and lots of stuff comes up.  That’s if you conduct a search for “Edward M. Bury.”

Drop my middle initial, and you’ll learn that there is “another” Edward Bury.  This guy didn’t work in PR; he was a British iron foundry owner, locomotive manufacturer and entrepreneur who lived from 1794 to 1858.

This image shows one of his locomotives:

Read more about Mr. Bury’s life and times, and you’ll learn this guy from England’s industrial north was a true visionary who played a key role in the Industrial Revolution.  He had a tremendously successful life, and he racked up lots of awards from the British crown as a result. Frankly, he accomplished a lot more in his 64 years on this planet than I have; but I’m not done yet.

Here’s another twist to this discussion. There’s a town in English county of Suffolk called Bury St. Edmunds.  It’s an historic place where the Romans once hung out, and it’s home to one of England’s largest independent breweries.  (I’m of Polish extraction, so I doubt I have any direct relatives there; but I do like my beer.)

I don’t know if Mr. Bury had a middle name or if it was Matthew, like mine;  but I’m sure glad he didn’t.

Given this gentleman’s role in shaping the world as we know it — building locomotives, the first form of land-based mass transportation, and being a cog in the Industrial Revolution, which started in the UK — his digital footprint would surely surpass mine had he added the “M” to his name.  Well, perhaps.

I can continue to grow my footprint; Mr. Bury — the English one — is not around to grow his.  It’s somewhat interesting and certainly ironic that in today’s increasingly digital world, Edward M. Bury, APR, a public relations guy from Chicago, has a larger digital footprint than Edward Bury, a man who helped usher in one of the greatest socioeconomic movements of our time.

With lots of confidence, I maintain Mr. Bury is not too concerned about his place in history.

Writers are Writers, Designers are Designers

Here are some thoughts from late in the afternoon from Edward M. Bury, aka the PRDude.

Scenario #1. Earlier today, I was en route to meet with a recruiter regarding a possible long-term writing and marketing assignment for an international company.  My cell rang.  It was the recruiter.  Apparently the recruiter’s client had a change of heart:  He wanted a professional who had writing and design skills.  I turned the car around and headed home.  We’ll reschedule a meeting in the future.

Scenario #2.  A public relations professional posted a question on LinkedIn seeking advice on what kind of graphic design software  PR pros should master.  The reason?  Some public relations jobs now ask for design as well as writing and social media skills.  Several people offered suggestions, such as the Adobe Creative Suite.

Am I missing something here?  Writers are writers, and designers are designers.  They are totally different disciplines — one written the other visual.  They require totally different skills, especially do do well in a marketing communications capacity.

In my 20 years in the public relations industry, I’ve collaborated with many great designers on web content, collateral pieces, display ads, trade show displays and other projects.  They had their task, and I had mine.  I didn’t know their job — from the creative side to the technical side — and I didn’t expect them to have the knowledge and skills required to craft persuasive, insightful copy.

The Wikipedia definition of  “graphic design” includes this sentence: “The term ‘graphic design’ can also refer to a number of artistic and professional disciplines that focus on visual communication and presentation.”  The key words here are “artistic” and “visual communication.”   There’s no mention of skills needed to write good copy.

In both scenarios noted above, one factor was behind this disturbing development toward the search for “super communicator writer/designer.”  It’s money. Why pay for a designer when the public relations guy/gal can handle the job.

In these challenging economic times, companies and associations maintain that a skilled communicator can fire up a computer loaded with desktop publishing software and deliver brilliant design concepts that result in great brochures, web sites and point-of-purchase displays.   Why pay for the services of a true designer?

I disagree.   Desktop publishing software, as I understand it, provides templates and leaves little room for creativity.  It doesn’t allow for originality or provide the tools required to dazzle.  Desktop publishing products are fine for the block club newsletter, but not for an effective collateral pieces in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace.

Putting the “Work” in Networking

Here’s the latest from the PRDude, also known as Edward M. Bury, APR

For those of us seeking that next great career position, there’s lots of help out there.   Just did some very unscientific online research.  Here’s what I found when conducting a Google search of these topics:

  • Career sites — 102 million results
  • Career books — 495 million results
  • Employment agencies — 27 million results
  • Career counselors — 8.8 million results

I did not specify “public relations” in any of these searches; but it’s pretty clear there are many, many options and resources for the job seeker to utilize and pursue.

Here’s another one: Getting off the computer, out of the house and meeting people.  Yes, it’s called “networking” today, and there’s even a “speed” version.  Google “networking,” and 226 million results are revealed.  Full disclosure: I just reviewed the first two pages of results.  I found results that provided advice on how to network, definitions for social networks,  links to networks geared to markets and industries and lots more.   There are even images that depict networking:

Does this really go on at some networking events?

I wholeheartedly support the concept of networking as a way to open doors and opportunities for career advancement; and, I have the results to support my contention.  Here’s a summary of my networking events from June 1 through July 1 — that’s today — of 2010.

  1. Breakfast meeting with a former national president of the Public Relations Society of America.
  2. Senior PR leaders reception sponsored by PRSA Chicago at Tribune Tower.
  3. Lunch with two public relations industry colleagues.
  4. A career coaching event sponsored by the Association Forum of Chicago.
  5. A “consultants circle” of public relations and marketing professionals  held at a suburban Starbucks.
  6. A luncheon sponsored by PRSA Chicago.
  7. A new business meeting with a diversified Chicago real estate company.
  8. An alumni event sponsored by Illinois State University.
  9. Another new business meeting — the result of a lead from a networking event I attended in June.
  10. A casual meeting with a prospective client over beers.
  11. Lunch today with a former colleague.

And, for good measure, in the past 30 days I had two formal, face-to-face job interviews, two phone interviews and one online career event.

On average, in the past month I attended or participated in some career advancement activity every other day. This was a lot of work, but it’s necessary to help me reach my goal of securing that next great position in public relations.

Companies don’t hire resumes; they hire people.  The best way to put myself out in front of people I don’t know is to shut off the computer, put on appropriate attire and get out of the house.  Don’t forget the business cards,  your “career summary speech” and your personality.  And, don’t be bashful about letting those you meet know why you’re there.

So far, July is a little bit light in terms of networking events, with just two on the books.  But that will change.

A final note: At my ISU alumni event, held on the 70th floor of a restaurant overlooking Lake Michigan, I not only enjoyed some excellent wine, hors d’ouevers and conversation, I met some very interesting people.  In fact, I counseled two young ISU students on the value of networking and invited them to stay in contact; one was interested in public relations.

I’ve not heard from my new friends, but if they read this post, here’s some advice:  If someone offers to make a connection, take it.  I’d welcome the opportunity to stay connected.