Expertise in social and online media is possibly the most over-rated claim at present. I believe there is room for a wide variety of skills sets and bringing these together in a team approach is undoubtedly necessary for any organisation that wishes to maximise the potential to communicate its messages, and with its constituents, using the developing online arena.
I regularly read Revolution magazine which gives a digital marketing focus to online communications. This is greatly different to the approach of public relations practitioners – showing a brand perspective with paid for advertising, developing technological solutions (especially branded applications for iPhones etc at present), and so on.
There are some cheap publicity approaches evident – such as the new Puma app which has scantily dressed models stripping if the Dow Jones index goes down (yes, really), but there’s very little here that shows understanding of the PR online mantra of building relationships.
From this marketing perspective, online is all about command and control of channels of communication – in your face and not at all subtle (although occasionally quite clever).
This is where the “old world” traditional television advertising spend has migrated.
So it’s not surprising to see the media buyers applying similar thinking to “new media” – and not understanding that the vast majority of websites, blogs and other privately owned online property needs a lighter tough.
I’ve recently received an email which showed a media buying approach to getting a job advert placed on the MIPAA website that I manage. This is a website for a not-for-profit members’ organisation. Normally we get an email that provides details of a vacancy and asks us, nicely, if we would place this on the website. Or, someone may complete the online form. No charge – we see this as a member benefit.
This occasion was different as the email had a title about copy for a campaign “to go live ASAP on MIPAA!” (caps and exclamation mark as per the original). It then gave me instructions on embedding a link in our site so responses could be tracked and required confirmation to the author when “the campaign is live”.
Within two hours, the initial email was followed up by a second email asking if I’d received the first, with a third email arriving the next morning.
I do not know the sender, there was no attempt to engage with me and the use of “please” was more a demand than a polite request. So I responded by asking if this was a request and explaining how I found the approach a little rude. The reply was:
Morning Heather! If you could get this live later today that would be much appreciated. I was following the media schedule I received my end and this is the format to make the request as clear as possible.
On checking the company behind the email, they are of course, experts in online and social media channels (with a recruitment perspective).
What they fail to understand is that the way the MIPAA JobSearch service works is not as a piece of online real-estate. This isn’t free media placement in the marketing sense. Yes, we will detail jobs that may be of interest to our members – but they work best with the support of myself and our JobSearch co-ordinator. We know who is looking and who might know who would be good candidates and so on. We understand about brand fits, career aspirations and so on.
Ours is a personal approach to recruitment and career development – and as such, sending us a “media schedule” email seems rude and rather insulting. Clearly the person assigned to send out the emails is unaware of what MIPAA is and how we operate. That isn’t their job, obviously.
The approach is very similar to that seen increasingly in PR practice where juniors are tasked with spamming out releases and monitoring “intent to publish” by annoying journalists with follow-up emails and phone calls.
In both cases, what is needed is a real understanding of how people, relationships and online media works. Our “media space” may well be free, but we decide what is reported and published. You have no right to this – for PR or advertising purposes – but if you ask nicely and have something interesting to hear, we may well feature your “copy”.
Media schedulers need to realise that you can’t “buy” something that isn’t for sale. Money can’t buy our love…