It’s Not a Secret, It’s a Dialogue

Over the weekend Loic Le Meur and Brian Solis had a fascinating exchange beginning with the latter’s comments on PR Secrets for Startups. Mr. Le Meur’s rapid response to Mr. Solis’s piece was entitled PR Secrets? bullshit.

While they had somewhat divergent views about what is necessary for good PR for startups in the Web 2.0 world, ultimately they shared an underlying message: in this much more participatory and less push-based model of the Web, PR is all about cultivating relationships.

True, Mr. Solis’s piece touched on the need for relationship-building with journalists and bloggers. And that’s a piece of PR wisdom that has been stressed for some time. We all know you can’t just call on the media when you want something from them because they just won’t answer that call.

Mr. Le Meur’s piece was less concerned with new and traditional media. His emphasis was more solidly on relating to the public and connecting to the users of a product or service. He clearly believes strongly in community building.

But Mr. Solis didn’t really disagree with that. He also referenced that need in his piece when he discussed how social media has changed PR. And he also made it one of his particular points, albeit number twelve on the list. He noted the need for public relations practitioners to follow conversations carried out via social networking tools and commented on the need for them to join in on those conversations.

In the end, they both stressed that one of the most important things that a PR professional can do is listen. Not talk, not promote, not push but listen.

Yes, there were points on which the two clearly were not in agreement but what is striking is that they both reiterate what many PR professionals need to take to heart and have not yet: in this age of Web 2.0 that PR is about speaking with and not to those using the product or service in question.

And, to my way of thinking, even niftier is the fact that this discussion between these two key influencers demonstrates once again the very nature of Web 2.0. It was a dialog carried out rapidly and through various channels. It started on blogs and ended, quite civilly, on Twitter with Mr. Solis thanking Mr. Le Meur for his comments.

But that’s just my interpretation. What do you think?

Advertisements

6 comments so far

  1. Mike Martin on

    You’ll be happy to know you convinced me to sign up for a Twitter account. Even though I don’t know a single journalist that uses it yet – and I know quite a few.

    I think good PR people always worked at having conversations with journalists even before Web 2.0. When I was still an editor, my favourite PR people were the ones who would call and ask how they could help me (or preferably send e-mail), rather than just throw some product pitch my way.

    I think the new Web tools open more channels for these kinds of conversations and they certainly allow PR practioners to have conversations with more people (like bloggers and customers). But I’m not sure it really changes how a good PR person interacts with the media. I don’t think journalists ever really liked being talked to. I know I didn’t.

  2. Melanie on

    Great post! nice summary of the figures and main points from each. especially this:

    “Yes, there were points on which the two clearly were not in agreement but what is striking is that they both reiterate what many PR professionals need to take to heart and have not yet: in this age of Web 2.0 that PR is about speaking with and not to those using the product or service in question.”

    That’s a solid analysis.

    Your post will be useful to others – especially to synthesize some emergent discussion about what PR means to PR professionals, startups and the communities who make companies succeed.

  3. Fred on

    I thought you might enjoy this article in wired about the HYPE MACHINE. The article is about a small California company that has managed to line the pockets of a few top dogs within the company by producing nothing more than empty promises and well timed/executed PR releases. Truly demonstrates the power of PR.

  4. abbymartin on

    Fred

    PR is kind of like the force- can be wielded for good or evil. This article demonstrates the latter for sure.

  5. abbymartin on

    Melanie

    Thank you. I’m thrilled that you feel this will be of some use. It’s been fascinating watching the reaction to these two key influencer’s gentle disagreement (that isn’t really one completely) grow. There’s a lot of good stuff being written out there about it. I’m just pleased you took the time to read this.

  6. abbymartin on

    Mike

    As a former journalist, I concur. There were PR practitioners I dreaded speaking with, especially if deadlines were rushing up as they were ALL the time. But, as you noted, there were some with whom you develop a more peer-to-peer rather than flack-to-hack relationship and those were the ones it was ok to stop and speak with.

    Thank you for your comment!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: