Ed Lee links to Forrester’s Participation Ladder which groups consumers into six different categories of online engagement. This indicates more people are creators (13%) and critics (19%) than the traditional 1% rule (which says in a group of 100 people online, 1 creates content, 10 interact with it and 89 will view it).
Are one-third of those online, really creating or adding to online content?
That seems a high percentage to me. But, as Stuart Bruce indicates, there are certainly a lot of PR people keen to get more involved, but not sure how to take their first steps up the ladder.
This fits with my own experience – attendance is high at social media events (such as the CIPR Wessex “Blogging and Beyond” event at Lawton yesterday evening), but few PR practitioners seem to have joined the conversation. I concur entirely with Stuart’s advice that the best place to start is by listening, and gaining confidence to add relevant comments.
I’ve also noticed that some PR practitioners at such events are afraid that social media means a lack of control. For me, this is one of the great advantages of online communications, that the message gains momentum, if it is interesting enough to those who wish to spread it.
I’m not sure where this belief that PR is about control comes from – maybe a focus on planning in recent years? PR people are often at their best when dealing with crisis situations and “live” projects where there is unpredictability and constant change.
I always understood that, unlike with advertising/marketing, PR techniques offer less control especially when working with informed journalists. Have increasing pressures on journalists resulted in PR people believing they are in charge of what is reported?
Why should public relations practitioners seek to control what others communicate? It can’t be because they are always hiding something – or is it because organisations don’t recognise the value of having real conversations instead of spouting puff?
If so, it cannot be a bad thing to see more people not only viewing, but adding to online discussion. I believe PR will thrive when we realise that control is not one of our strengths, but that being able to help organisations interact through conversation is.