A media scheduling approach to social media

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…

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Heather Yaxley

Heather Yaxley is passionate about PR - teaching the CIPR qualifications, lecturing part-time at Bournemouth University and running the Motor Industry Public Affairs Association (MIPAA). I'm undertaking a PhD looking at Career Strategies in PR. I love sharing ideas and knowledge - connecting news and views by blogging on public relations and educational developments, especially relating to accelerated and active learning. I'm also a published author, qualified trainer and experienced consultant.

8 thoughts on “A media scheduling approach to social media”

  1. As a media buyer, my e-mail address is public on our company website. I get spam on a regular basis requesting that it is urgent that I put their link on my website. Blah blah blah and other requests of how it is imperative that my company signs a contract to start internet marketing immediately. I just ignore these e-mails. If they can not call and speak to me directly then I have nothing to do with them. Just my opinion!

  2. Thanks for stopping by KMB. I’m not surprised that you get this approach as it clearly cuts across all types of online “players”. I agree entirely with your opinion that deleting emails is the best approach. In my case, the job was with one of our members and something we would upload. I will be telling the member in person about the terrible approach. Seems odd to me to be paying a company to “place” recruitment adverts with a site like MIPAA when the member could have saved the fee money and just emailed us direct. Mentioning no names but you should see the client’s recruitment site – dread to think what the budget for that was!!

  3. Insightful piece. I sometimes wonder whether some social media experts are just frustrated door-to-door salespeople.

    New media, perhaps, but old rules of curtsey, homework and relevance still apply. If there is a change it is to lighten up rather than to increase or maintain the hard-sell tactics.

  4. Paul – I’m a huge fan of genuinely skilled salespeople who really epitomise relationship building (again as per Gladwell’s Tipping Point). But I agree with you that new media seems to have bred the worst, ie laziest, type of selling which is to ignore the customer and work on a percentage basis. It doesn’t matter how many potential customers you annoy who will never buy from you tomorrow so long as you hit today’s tactical target of having called the leads.

    Mind you, that’s the same approach that gives us call centres and other process oriented “solutions” for business issues. There are many things in life that can’t be short-cut and good human relations (personal and professional) are top of the list.

  5. Really interesting piece and it is very similar to what happens in many PR agencies. I wonder if social media agencies face the same issues as PR – in order to make the best margin or keep fees low, agencies put their most junior (ie cheapest) people on the job. So when a client says: “email this (unresearched) list and get them to run our ad for free” a junior exec will do it, rather than advise the client against it. Agency gets slammed (rightly), gets poor results, and fees get reduced. Margins are squeezed, cheaper people put on the job.. and so it goes on. In social media work, more than anything else, we need to break this cycle and find a way of putting our most experienced people forward to do the job, not our cheapest.

  6. Kate – to an extent I agree with you, but my experience is that although the client may well be cutting budgets, they rarely specify how to undertake an activity. For example, the PR approach of having a list and chasing journalists is something that seems more driven by agencies than clients. Likewise dodgy evaluation such as “advertising value equivalent” is said by agencies to be demanded by clients – but all my experience and other evidence I’ve seen shows it is the agencies giving the AVE to clients as “proof” rather than taking the time to explain.

    I think the good consultancies do break the cycle with good clients. So we should leave the rubbish agencies to work with cheapskate clients who don’t want to know how to do a better job. Maybe then the worst agencies go out of business – or am I just being optimistic?

  7. Great post Heather! Kentucky Media Buying – could you protect your email address by only linking it to the contact form with something like spam protection captcha?

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