5 Questions From ‘New Media’ Newcomers

I attended an IABC seminar this week where Cyrus Mavalwala and Joseph Thornley explored the transition from ‘old’ to ‘new’ media.

Joseph structured his presentation around some interesting questions posed by the audience. Five questions in particular captured my attention, so I thought I’d share my perspective on them:

Why Should I Care About Blogging?

I don’t think there’s a simple answer to this question – it will depend on you, your situation and your objectives. However, I don’t think there’s any question – if you work in PR or marketing, you should care.

Joe Thornley used the case study of Jeff Jarvis and his experience with Dell to effectively illustrate what can happen when companies don’t pay attention.

I’d like to focus on a slightly broader picture. In brief, here are five reasons why I think you should care about blogging and more broadly about social media in general:

  • Important: social media isn’t about the technology; it’s about people. Blogging, podcasting, Facebook, Twitter, Jaiku – they’re just technologies. Don’t focus on them. As PR pros, we need to focus on the consumers on the other side of the technology. Increasing numbers of them communicate through social media. You can’t control those conversations, but don’t you want to be part of them?
  • You might not care about social media, but does your company’s target market? If they care, you should
  • Social media gives you a chance to build a relationship with customers and thought leaders in your field
  • When something goes wrong, people go to your website. You need to be able to respond quickly; blogging allows you to
  • You can’t get instant credibility in the blogosphere – you need to build it up over time by engaging in conversations either on your own blog or on others. When something goes wrong, people will go to your website. You don’t want to have to establish credibility while simultaneously managing a crisis
  • It’s true, you can’t control conversations on today’s Internet. However, wouldn’t you rather conversations involve you rather than revolve around you?

Why Do You Do It?

I have two blogs – this one and The Toronto Runner. My motivations for each are different in most respects, but I’m passionate about both of them.

I use this blog as a way to:

  • Educate myself more about PR, social media and marketing
  • Stay on top of emerging trends that will impact public relations
  • Share my thoughts and perspectives on topics that I find interesting

I use my running blog to:

  • Share my passion for running with other people
  • Provide accountability – it motivates me myself to push myself harder
  • Pass on tips and routes for local runners

I Have A Podcast; Do I Need A Blog?

This leads me to a wider discussion of new media and how people view it.

I think it’s important for PR professionals to treat new media technologies as tactics, not strategies.

We shouldn’t look at Facebook, YouTube, Twitter and their kind and wonder how we can make them work. None of them are one-size-fits-all solutions. If they’re appropriate to a situation, use them. If they’re not, don’t.

In relation to this particular question, it may well be that a blog would help the podcast. However, without looking at the bigger picture, you can’t know for sure.

For a great example of what I mean, check out this audio excerpt from How To Do Everything With Podcasting by Shel Holtz and Neville Hobson. They discuss using podcast to solve a problem rather than as a strategy by itself.

What Sources Do You Use?

Again, this answer is very contextual. I blog mainly about my thoughts on emerging PR tactics, not on mainstream “news.” Therefore, I tailor my reading accordingly:

How Do You Find Time?

There’s no avoiding it, staying on top of all the emerging new media technologies takes a lot of time. I’m fortunate in that I’m fascinated by it so it doesn’t feel like work, but sometimes I still have to consciously make time for life outside the web.

My job currently doesn’t directly involve any of these online activities so I try to work them into my day as seamlessly as possible:

  • I limit my blog reading to three periods each working day (I read the rest in the evening):
    • When I get to work
    • During lunch
    • When I’m about to leave
  • I listen to podcasts while commuting and when I’m out running. I run for between 60-90 minutes three or four times a week, so that adds up
  • I use Twitter via instant messenger on my mobile device so I can do it on the move

There’s no way I can, in good conscience, take time during my work day to write a blog post, so I do my blogging and social networking in the evenings.

So there you have it. Five questions asked by people new to the world of blogging, web 2.0 and social media, and my humble perspective.

Dave Fleet
EVP Digital at Edelman. Husband and dad of two. Cycling nut; bookworm; videogamer; Britnadian. Opinions are mine, not my employer's.