Just in case you didn’t notice the abundance of #CIPRsm tagged tweets floating throughout the internet, yesterday was the Chartered Institute of Public Relations’ (CIPR) annual social media conference. It took place at Microsoft in London and I was participating via the live blog from the CIPR.
I spotted via Twitter that Jarrod Williams was attending, so asked him whether he could capture the events of the day to share with readers of Diary of an internal communicator and he kindly agreed. A Storify account of the day has been created by Richard Bagnall and you can view it here. I’ve used some of the images that were tweeted on the day, so hat tip to Bradley Ryan of CIPR and Stuart Bruce.
Jarrod is a communications officer for Bromford, a leading affordable housing provider, and is a volunteer Media Communications Officer and social media manager for the Air Cadets. Thank you for sharing your day with us Jarrod, over to you…
This year the conference was centred around the best-selling Share This: The social media handbook for PR professionals (which I recommend you grab a copy of) and included speakers such as O2’s Alex Pearmain, Stuart Bruce, Rob Pembrooke and many more.
I can tell you now, there was a lot packed into the day with sessions covering Social Media Relations, pitching to journalists via social media, analytics and metrics, networks and platforms, mobile and location networks and strategy and planning, not to mention two keynote speakers. In total I made notes in excess of 3000 words, plus many tweets, and still didn’t capture all the great one liners. With so much content, it’s hard to keep a blog short and simple, so I’ve taken a few of the standout key points which I think we’re the most prevalent….
One of the most re-enforced statements of the day, even from those in the public sector, was that effective social media for any brand or business requires a certain degree of risk. Embed social in everything you do, try out new things, evolve and don’t be afraid. You’ll never come up with the next big idea or stumble on a unique way of reaching your audiences online if you don’t stick your neck out a bit.
Yes, it’s not always easy to get buy-in from the top, especially with a strategy that’s slightly outside the corporate comfort zone, but the team from Defra highlighted a very important point you will need to accept early if you want to succeed in social media- you’re not always going to be able to win over the public or create online ambassadors, but you can always ensure the facts being broadcast are correct.
Summarised: Experiment, be funny (where it’s appropriate), be current, test the waters, correct the inaccuracies and encourage your audience.
Things are getting faster
In the past the ‘news cycle’ could take more than 24 hours to run its course, but in today’s age you’ll find your issue/ story will be out in the public domain, in the press and being discussed around the world in less than 24 minutes.
As such, PR teams need to adapt, they need to be as fast as the public and news sources. It’s about understanding your own digital press office manifesto. Social Media increases the speed and interaction of a story. I know that’s not a new idea, but it changes some of the key rules. For example, you need have early warning systems in place, like keyword monitoring. By looking for spikes in topic interest, you can be ready for the catalyst of a crisis.
Another point is to respond on the platforms needed, and only the platforms needed, otherwise you’ll spread the crisis to networks that haven’t yet been affected (eg. Don’t issue a Twitter statement if the complaint is on Facebook).
Integrate social media into your crisis plan if social media is fuelling the crisis. HSBC has Twitter spokespeople to respond to journalists directly, they allow them to speak and make mistakes, but ensure they have support from the Comms team where necessary. Prepare, practise, resource, analyse.
And finally be careful, sometimes internal communications can be slower than external. Your customer will be talking about you on social media before you’ve been told your IT systems have failed internally.
Measurement should be about your needs
Oh measurement, how you’re often the bane of our lives. Why oh why won’t those thought leaders let me use AVE’s or follower growth?
I’ll tell you why, because it doesn’t really explain what you’ve achieved, something you need to demonstrate to get that CEO buy-in you’re desperate for. To get it right, there’s no best practice example to copy, you need to work out your own metrics system that will suit the audience and engagement you have.
Be unique in measurement. Remember that the online world leaves a trail of content for us to analyse, and it’s those floating tweets that remain prominent for hours that can really have the impact.
In the end, we influence the public and public influence us, and that’s what we need to measure. That level of influence, engagement and impact. A nice rule to use is “Don’t measure what you can, what you should.”
You can plan social media. Is it that hard to believe? So many brands don’t seem to be able to comprehend, it’s not all reactive. @staffspolice identify force trends and plan 12 months in advance for social media campaigns, but still maintain the resources so they can always react to new issues. Create an editorial calendar of topics and posts which align with your business trends, plan in seasonal campaigns, think ahead.
You’re now a community manager, accept that.
David Bailey for Staffordshire Police made an important point, “we can’t wait for the regional media anymore, we need to build our own audience”. As PRs we need to understand that the press shouldn’t always be a first point of contact for a story, the world has changed and those we want to communicate with can be directly contact through the web.
Social media has taken us back to a time where the message is king. It elevates the importance of an individual and so we need to understand our consumers and talk their language. The public lead and fuel the story and so it is our social responsibility to support that for the customers while maintain the benefit for our brand.
Truth, trust and transparency are key in this new direction. Alex Pearmain of O2 UK said the time has come to put the relations back into public. Invest time in the individual and build your engagement culture, you’re part of the a customers relationships online now, so you need to facilitate communities rather than force them to follow you.
Oh, and on the topic of ‘opinions are mine” – it doesn’t work, it doesn’t matter, it has no affect. If your CEO or even Head of Comms tweets that they hate working with a key partner, then a journalist can happily write that they have made that statement. Once it’s public, it’s public, and it’s fair game. You can’t expect a journalist to click four times to find out whether an opinion is personal only, so if you don’t trust your senior execs to say the right thing, don’t allow them to have a business related public profile.
Of course, there were so many other fantastic salient points and ideas made I simply can’t fit them all in here. The guys over at @Comms2Point0 have a further list of 42 top things to take away, but to review all the buzz, check out #CIPRsm on Twitter.
Thank you again Jarrod. I’m going to be talking about the Share This chapter I wrote on how social media is being used for internal communications, at the CIPR Internal Comms conference on 7 November. You can watch me give a brief overview of the chapter’s content via YouTube.
Post author: Jarrod Williams.