At last night’s CIPR graduation ceremony, I chatted with both 2007 President, Lionel Zetter and Director General, Colin Farrington. Needless to say, both conversations turned to new media. It was nice to hear that Colin reads this blog, but apparently the recent membership survey conducted by CIPR showed few practitioners are reading blogs. Rather than taking this as evidence that blogs aren’t influential or important to public relations practitioners, I find it worrying that this accessible element of social media isn’t yet part of members’ regular reading habits. Is this through lack of time, poor understanding of new technology, fear or lack of interest?
Picking up on this, Lionel said CIPR is likely to produce its social media guidelines in hard copy as well as online. I am aware that many bloggers have commented on the proposed guidelines – and, as I submitted to Francis Ingham in my own twopenniesworth, I agree with the consensus that the existing CIPR code of conduct applies to the ethical principles involved in online social media. I also commented that any advice for members must adapt to the speed and unpredictable nature of how online/social media is changing. Also, there is good pressure online for those who do not follow accepted or ethical practices, which CIPR needs to highlight to members.
What I would like to see CIPR produce is a living, online resource that provides guidance for those in PR embarking on social media activities. This should include a wiki, blog and forums where debate can take place. By engaging with those involved in PR online at present, CIPR could create a superb resource that would be of help to the newbie PRs in social media and draw on the expertise of those who are nearer the forefront of developments, including current best practice, and examples of what can go wrong.
Lionel also raised some interesting points looking at how Edelman had come unstuck with social media PR campaigns. Notably, the fact that champions of openness and transparency in organisations need to not just be public evangelists, but ensure their ethos is part of the culture and reflected by all their colleagues – especially those working with clients who might pressure them otherwise. I look forward to reading Lionel’s own post on last night and some other interesting engagements he has this week.
Good to see that social media is being discussed intelligently within CIPR – and I really hope more members grasp the potential of online/social media or this will be a wasted opportunity for the profession and potentially question its future relevance.