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pr 2.0 – public relations in the new world

October 15, 2008

Christine Perkett – PerkettPR

Tony Sapienza – Topaz Partners

Bobbie Carlton – Beacon Street Girls

How are companies evaluating mainstream media vs. new media?

Christine: a lot of companies are still seeing the traditional media as the holy grail, but they are starting to see online media and bloggers as important. Gives an example of media hit on CNBC which seems amazing, but traffic spike indicated that online hits have been more valuable. 

Tony: Depends on the client. Some audiences are more online than others, so for example developers are pretty much only online, so a client in that field can move totally online and have much more success than traditional media. Others, for example small business, are still picking up the local paper. 

Is this a tough sell?

Tony: It’s not as difficult to sell today. It’s sinking in, new marketing and social media is really starting to take off. A few years ago it was really hard to get people on board, now they’re starting to request social media from the start. 

Christine: I agree with Tony that it depends on the audience. I think traditional media is still just as important, but social media is incredibly important as well. The fundamentals are still there and that’s the most important thing I would stress today. 

What’s different about pitching blogs from traditional media like Time?

Bobbie: It’s not all that different, I do have to have big press people with print and traditional as well as blogs on our side. 

Tony: We use mainstream media hits differently. We got a hit in the Washington Post and that day we launched a campaign in the blogs to make bloggers aware of the write up in the post. Drove more traffic and generated more views to the company Web site. So we leveraged both kinds of media for better success overall. 

How do you measure it?

Bobbie: traffic. 

Tony: It used to be clip books, and it was hard to connect those clips to biz success. But today we can watch traffic and buzz closely, which we can track in real time. This can be a curse because it forces us into acute accountability. 

How do you look at the co-dependence between old and new media? 

Christine: New media has offered a lot of opportunities and opened a world to have real relationships with reporters and bloggers, sharing knowledge and building bonds with reporters. Engaging in conversations. 

Are there patterns here in the back and forth between new media and traditional media?

Tony: I don’t think there are any specific orders that these things move in. Probably more social media taking the lead and traditional media following in general these days. Stories have started in twitter and then moved into mainstream pubs with more frequency lately. 

Have you dealt with crises in a social media world?

All: yes

Tony: There are crises and preparing is important, we’ve done a lot of dealing with companies that need to do reputation management online and are facing criticism. We’re looking at an entirely new way of dealing with crisis management. 

What do you do when someone is saying something that is just wrong?

Bobbie: We get that, and we like to have others defend us as much as possible, but there are times we have to go out there and defend ourselves, and we have to just present the facts and leave it at that. 

How do you allocate resources when you need to address 5 times more people than before?

Tony: Try to point out that reaching out to bloggers and working in social media can be a natural extension of what we already do. B-roll can be a shared video, case study can be a blog post etc. We do have a far greater audience, and you do need to keep that in mind. 

Christine: You need to see it as an extension of what you’re already doing. You can’t expect people to just come to you, now you need to go where they are, interact and bring that content you’re aready developing with you. On the agency side, I think agency heads have to embrace it from the top down, explain that its an importnant use of time. Takes more time, and requires a restructure of billing because your way of thinking and way of billing around it has to change. 

Bobbie: Let go, and let other people help you. I do everything from marketing to SEO to PR, so I can’t do it all.  But one of the things i’ve learned is i can create partnerships with other people that will leverage our brand name. You need to prepare and have your messages prepared in advance.


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