Questions and More Questions on the Impact of Social Media in 2018

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

The article hit home like a virtual thunderclap. Well, for me and perhaps the many others who communicate professionally and ethically.

In question is a piece, “2018’s Biggest Social Media Trends for Business,” published January 2 of this year by Forbes. (Yes, I’m a little behind in my reading.)

For a commentary on the growth of digital, there sure are a lot of “old-school” implements in this graphic. Image courtesy of Forbes.

Here’s why: Author Ryan Holmes (also the CEO and founder of Hootsuite) maintains that there’s “a growing realization among businesses that social media is the single most effective way to reach audiences.” He cites factors like the development of paid platforms (so long free reach via Facebook), a continued growth of video (certainly not surprising) and the integration of prominent social media platforms with leading business software (perhaps Microsoft will own everything digital some day).

And, the article cites compelling statistics like the escalating number of Facebook users (lots and lots and lots), time each day teens spend online (around 540 minutes) and the growing dominance of sponsored video (more bucks spent than on that once dominate medium — television).

All this led me to ponder these questions about the future of social media:

1. All these developments are happening at lightening-fast speed. So  how do communicators measure results and effectively keep up?

2. And, given the preponderance of new digital platforms, how do communicators determine if what they recommend to clients is the most relevant one?

3. Not too many years ago, I recall reading that the public relations field “owned” social media. Is that still the case?

4. How do you effectively integrate rapid-fire digital with more traditional strategies and tactics?

5.  Will those of us not raised on digital (this writer included) continue to have a voice in modern communications?

In the conclusion to the article, Holmes offers this rationale: “For companies already fatigued by the onslaught of new technology and strategies, relief, unfortunately, is nowhere in sight. But for those that can keep up, social media may promise bigger audiences and more return on investment than ever.”

Not sure where I stand in that equation.

Now it’s your turn. Given the virtual communications whirlwind ahead, what questions do you have about the impact of social media on communicators?




So Long 2012, And Hopefully So Long to Some Other Stuff

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

By now, friend of The PRDude, you probably have read 10 or more “Top 10” lists.  These appear regularly online and in print and broadcast communications, but they’re especially prevalent now — as we count down the days and hours of another year.

Rest assured, you won’t read any “Top 10” or “Top (fill in the blank)” list in this space today. (You can get a way-cool summary and analysis of traffic from this blog courtesy of the way-cool people from WordPress.)   What I plan to do is to just offer some thoughts on public relations and “other stuff,” as keeping with the tag line and theme of this blog.  You might get 10, but probably less because I want to finish soon.  Full disclosure:  I’m writing this late Monday morning and looking forward to a nap so I can stay up to midnight.

Here goes.

top 10Let’s Put a “-30-” to Top 10 Lists.  Those of us how came out of the journalism business know that it was traditional to type “-30-” to denote the end of a story.  Why don’t we put a “-30-” to the preponderance of year-end lists, especially Top 10 lists.  Why not Top 9 or Top 11? .  Seriously, it’s kind of a communications cop out, often predictable and generally just takes up space.  Why not just follow topics of interest year-round?

Let’s Put More Focus on Defining “Public Relations” in the 21st Century. Earlier this prsa_logoyear, the Public Relations Society of America unveiled a new definition for “public relations.” The good folks at PRSA employed a modern communications tactic — crowdsourcing — and combined it with good old-fashioned research.  I participated in the effort, and I was thrilled that the new definition included the phrase “strategic communications process.” It’s strategy that separates true practitioners from the hucksters and incompetents.  But I think the definition needs to be augmented with references to the traditional (like media relations) and the always evolving (like social media) forms of communication.  The next Pinterest will change PR strategies and tactics for many of us.

snarkyLet’s Cease with Snarky-Themed PR/Communications Blogs. We’ve all read them, and many of us — The PRDude included — have contributed to posts or forums that have little to do but give the opportunity to share some mean-spirited thought under the guise of humor or adding to the general conversation.  Do we really benefit from your opinion or my opinion on what “buzzwords” to eliminate from our daily communications?  If I want to “think outside of the box” or “throw someone under the bus,” I will.  But please stop using “non uncommon” because “common” works better!

I could go on, but that’s it for now. If I could provide a summary to the above, and hopefully to all my commentary here, it’s this: Those of us who define ourselves as “public relations professionals” should adhere to high ethical standards, only communicate messages that offer some contribution to the public well-being, steadfastly practice open disclosure and continue to explore and promote new and more effective ways to communicate.  Want more? Read my October post on this subject.

The word count has just gone north of 500, so it’s time to call it a day and a year. Thanks again to all who digest my thoughts. What topics/issues should The PRDude address in 2013?

What I Learned As a Social Media Panelist at An Association Workshop

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRdude)

Professional workshops and seminars are great opportunities to learn and advance — but only if you apply yourself and get something out of them.  The public relations profession, of course, continues to evolve and more than likely will do so for a long time.

That’s why I was thrilled and honored to be invited to serve on a panel last Thursday as part of a one-day program called “The Business of Association Publishing.”  It was hosted by the nice people at Association Media and Publishing, a Washington, D.C. area organization that serves the publishing needs of those of us who work in the association management business.

(In case you forgot or are a first-time visitor to The PRDude’s blog, I pay the mortgage, put food on the table and treat myself to good beer once in a while as Director of Marketing & Communications for a real estate association here in Chicago.  I know, enjoy and appreciate the value of associations.  And, I’m a proud member of one myself: The Public Relations Society of America. )

The topic for our panel was: “Social Media for Associations: How To Engage Your Members Using the Latest Technologies.”  “Social media!  I could talk about that,” I said to myself after I received the invitation.  “And, I actually could provide something of value.”

The PRDude After the Panel Discussion.

But what to focus on?  Well, how about blogging?  Along with this blog, I’m administrator and contributor to our organization’s blog, which launched this June.

My co-presenters were two outstanding professionals who deliver tremendous insight from within their respective organizations and areas of expertise.

  • Jean Lynch, Director of Communications and Marketing for the American Association of Medical Assistants, offered some keen insight into how the AAMA strategically incorporated Facebook into its marketing and communications programs with solid, measurable results.
  • And, Andy Steggles, COO and social strategist, Higher Logic (a mobile software company for associations and  nonprofits) delved into  how to leverage mobile (like apps and QR codes)  to drive engagement in traditional media and enhance programmatic offerings and benefits.

And, now the takeaways.  I learned a lot, of course, from my two colleagues and their presentations, and through questions from those in attendance.  But as a public relations and business communicator who works in association management, I came away with the following additional insight:

1.  One Size Does Not Fit All. Associations are local and regional, national and international.  They cover every imaginable industry and then some. The social media strategy for Association A will not — and should not — be translate to Association B.   Like the for-profit sector, associations should craft and incorporate a social media strategy that will help them reach realistic, measurable goals.

2.  Miles and Miles to Go.  This is a somewhat unsubstantiated observation, but I believe the majority of associations — perhaps a large majority of them — have yet to fully understand the value of social media and wrap both arms around it.   Why? Perhaps it’s time, dollars,  a reluctance from leadership or all of these and other factors.  Perhaps it’s the nature of the beast:  Some associations are driven by members who won’t embrace change, or social media for that matter.

Do you have thoughts to share on the use of social media as part of an overall association communications strategy?  Do you have a good case history to share?  Please let me know.


Lunch with Some PR Agency Big Shots (And What They Had To Say)

By Edward M. Bury, APR (aka The PRDude)

Earlier today, my colleagues at PRSA Chicago hosted what has become the most well-attended of the regular monthly luncheons on the schedule: The panel discussion featuring the top officer from some of the biggest agencies around.

Three very smart, successful PR professionals — Rick Murray from Edelman, Max Winer from Fleishman-Hillard and and Bill Zucker from Ketchum — shared their thoughts on social media, the evolution of PR in the communications arena, the PR “story of the year” and more.  PRSA/Chicago Board member Jack Monson moderated; he did an outstanding job of posing provocative questions tempered with dry humor.

Here’s what made it into the PRDude’s notebook.  (I used to be a real news reporter, you know.)  It’s close to “tomorrow” (otherwise known as “Wednesday”), so I’ll be brief.  Bullet points will suffice here, and I won’t attribute specific quotes or thoughts because, frankly, I didn’t take very precise notes.  There. Full disclosure.

  • Moving in the Direction: Communications Integration. PR agencies are evolving into more “complete, integrated communications firms.”  In the same vein, “the beauty of public relations is that is has the license to compete in a bunch of different spaces.”  I wholeheartedly agree with these thoughts, and would like to add this: Those of us in the corporate and/or association side of the profession — like me — have had to wear a lot of hats for a long time. That’s how we get stuff done.
  • How Loud Can You Say, “Social Media!” “If you’re not working with social media, you won’t be working for long.” Those professionals who recently entered the ranks bring a passion for social media, which is being funneled up the corporate ladder. Did you know that Edelman has a social media training program based on a martial arts “belt system?”  (Wonder if my old tae-kwon-do instructor, Mr. Yung, would approve?  Wonder if he’s on Facebook.)
  • In This Year’s News…  When asked about the top story or development in public relations, the panelists were divided on the broad and encompassing (more PR professionals getting a seat with the corporate guys and gals and more defined responsibilities from clients) to the specific: The Facebook scandal involving Burson Marsteller and the bankruptcy that put legendary media monitoring giant Video Monitoring Services out of business.  I found the discussion of the VMS closing as the most poignant: Modify your business model or you might be out of business.   (Personal note: The PRDude covered the BM “Googlegate” debacle in a previous post. )
  • And, There was Time for Questions. As in questions from the audience. Well, The PRDude took advantage of Mr. Monson’s LinkedIn request for questions.  Mine was:  “Do you subscribe to the Barcelona Principles?”  Must say, I think I caught these folks a bit off guard, as there was not a lot of commentary. What was I referring to?  Read this past post and find out.  Hint: If you’re serious about this profession and where it’s heading, I recommend you read up on the Barcelona Principles.  Hint: They have nothing to do with traveling to a cool place in Spain.  Better yet, read my thoughts.

Let me turn the tables on you: What is the biggest PR story or development to date?  Do you agree with those mentioned by the panelists?

One more thing: This is the PRDude’s 100th blog.  I hear trumpets!  I’ll offer some insight on this somewhat monumental feat next time.

A Few Social Media Hot Buttons

By Edward M. Bury, APR, aka The PRDude

Earlier today, I had the pleasure of attending the monthly luncheon hosted by my friends and colleagues from the PRSA Chicago Chapter.  Those loyal followers of The PRDude know I’m a proud, full-fledged member of the chapter, and I even do my best to promote the Accreditation in Public Relations when I can.

Today, the packed audience gained some great insight into the always-changing subject of social media.  Three guys from public relations agencies with household names in the industry presented some great thoughts.  My apologies: I did not get the names of the speakers.

Without further rhetoric, here’s what I scribbled down.

  • Clients are becoming smarter in the social media world and demanding better metrics to measure results.  The challenge remains “how to connect the dots” or results from various platforms.  Makes sense to me, and let me add that measurement of defined objectives should be a factor in every public relations program.
  • B2B clients are accepting the value of social media and recognize the need to reach a small, targeted audience.  And, social media is projected to rise 60 percent in the B2B arena this year.  Since my “real job” (I don’t make any money off this, you know) requires I communicate with people in the commercial real estate world, this is good news.
  • The death of the “one-way” web site is a reality; communicators who are on the ball transition static sites into “blogging platforms.”   Yea!  As a blogger and manager of my organization’s web site, this is the best news to cross my desk — er, monitor — in a long time.  The speaker who made this proclamation went on to say, “Web site should no longer be full of happy corporate talk.  Have your peers  become your ‘brand evangelist.'”  Don’t agree entirely with this statement, and I think evangelists belong in church or on a street corner.
  • Facebook is the most important platform, even for B2B audiences, because that’s where the big dollars are being spent.  As long as money continues to make the world go round, I’ll have to agree.  But I have read that Facebook has reached a saturation point of subscribers here in the U.S., so it’s focusing on other parts of the world.  I do know people outside the U.S. have computers and friends.
  • The geographic platforms — Foursquare, etc. — are still struggling for a foothold in the online world.  Full disclosure: I registered for Foursquare and only checked in around two times.  Both were to the Small Bar, my local watering hole. I know some businesses offer discounts to those who check into their sites.  That won’t work at the Small Bar yet.  Besides, Parker usually slips me a free pint once in a while anyway.

The panel offered more insight about sites that will rise to uncharted heights — Empire Avenue and Get Glue were two that I jotted down.  But I’m not so sure I need to know about these sites just yet.

One observation: I’ve read that good old-fashioned email will someday go the way of the manual typewriter.  If that’s true, then why do all these cool new sites require you to register with your email address?


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.