When You Win Over A Community: The Story of Help A Reporter Out

I don’t want to sound like a fanboy of Peter Shankman’s Help A Reporter Out (HARO) since I already posted about it recently, but I wanted to point out this video produced by one of the many fans of Shankman’s new query service.

In truth, I am sort of a fanboy for the service. I have found some real value from it since joining HARO when it was only a Facebook group, but I am using this video to illustrate a point. Continue reading When You Win Over A Community: The Story of Help A Reporter Out

Is Community Management the future of marketing?

There’s a reason that I want to integrate a role as a community manager into my normal public relations duties. As more and more marketers profess the equal ground that social networks create between marketers and consumers, marketers have to redefine themselves.

Jeremiah Owyang answered his own question on how marketers could stay relevant in a recent post.

Question: Many consumers loathe marketers, now consumers can bypass marketers with social media tools, the power has shifted to the participants, how do marketers stay relevant?

Answer: Marketers must participate, or let consumers participate on their behalf, it’s a new world.

The best way to participate is to become what is today defined as a community manager.

Just like Larry Hryb became the face of Microsoft’s Xbox as Major Nelson and Frank O’Connor became a “Content Monkey” for Bungie, community managers have taken on the role of passing information to the community and letting the community do what they will.

This model works best with brands where a large fan base already exists on the Web. It’s not as strict and defined a communication format as traditional public relations, but it is one that more consumers and fans appreciate.

Community managers produce original content and writing for the community rather than issuing press releases directly to the press. They overcome a greater challenge in establishing a relationship of trust with the consumers since they are affiliated directly with the company they represent, but those marketers that pass on a consistently honest message to the consumer reap the reward of developing a brand community out of their marketing efforts.

By bypassing the media, niche brands can also see rewards. Even though they may be too small for industry journalists to take note, they can develop a cult following through their own blogging and community development.

This passive marketing of the future puts the community managers on equal ground with consumers and allows them to interact and participate in a meaningful way. It will be the most effective marketing communication method in the future, so it would benefit every PR practitioner to integrate community management into normal PR functions in order to stay relevant.

Understand what public relations can do for you

TalentZoo.com featured a great set of 18 PR Tips for Startups from Brian Solis in a recent email. His tips feature a few pet peeves of mine about some people’s concept of public relations. Often, folks can doubt the power of PR.

2. Don’t undervalue PR.

PR, when done right, is extremely valuable to company branding, which has immeasurable benefits in the long haul. Customers have choices and if you’re not consistently vying for their attention, it’s pretty easy to fall off their radar screen when they evaluate options. Too many companies nickel and dime PR to the point of absurdity. Don’t get me wrong. Expensive PR doesn’t equal success. But short changing PR is usually a first step in the wrong direction.

As a general rule, PR should always be consistent because it does take time and maintained effort to establish relationships with the journalists that cover your business and find coverage opportunities. Solis does a great job expanding upon these two principles through all 18 tips–even enforcing how important it is for executives to meet regularly with their PR department and involve them early in decisions that can affect their messaging.

Marketing-savvy corporate executives are working with PR, Advertising, and Marcom teams to explore options and strategies on how to participate in relevant online conversations. This represents a shift in outbound marketing as it creates a direct channel between companies and customers, and ultimately people.

He even recommends my dream job within a company:

Hire a community manager. In the new world of social media, new PR can be complemented through the efforts of someone who can actively represent the company in all things social so that they can provide proactive information and support to people looking for guidance in the communities they frequent. Don’t market to them, have conversations.

Now, who’s interested?