Can you help me understand why public relations and communications firms are seemingly disconnected with the social media world?
My awakening occurred a few weeks ago when Jason Calacanis wrote that corporate CEOs ought to know enough about their products to do their own public relations and fire their PR firms.
In lightning-fast speed, everyone weighed in with their own perspectives that Calacanis was generally correct in some cases but wrong on others. See responses by Dave Fleet and Valeria Maltoni, for instance.
Christine Perkett of PerkettPR disagreed with Calacanis, indicating that account executives are engaging with clients using a mix of common sense, passion, intuition, awareness, and time. She writes that the PR industry is developing relationships through listening and engaging.
Richard Edelman, head of a global PR firm, also weighed in and you can see there are about 100 comments, mine included.
I then browsed around the Edelman site and came across a list, published last fall, of 17 rules for social network engagement. These are principles that the firm instructs their employees to follow when using social media.
I’ve highlighted some of them below (these numbers do not necessary correlate with the actual rule numbers):
- Be responsible for your online activity. Do not betray confidential information.
- Be transparent and disclose your identity and corporate affiliation.
- Respect the privacy of your colleagues. If posting text, a picture, or video about a client or colleague in social media, you must secure his/her consent.
- Get approval before writing about the company, a client, or a competitor.
- Avoid personal attacks and online fights.
- Cite and link copyrighted or borrowed material.
- Be accurate and truthful in online communication.
- Build a reputation of trust among your clients, the media, and the public.
- Don’t abuse your corporate identity to influence polls, rankings, or web traffic.
- Don’t “friend” anyone on a social network unless you know or previously corresponded with the person.
- Don’t violate terms and conditions of social media sites you visit.
- Don’t conduct online activities that violate any law.
I’m curious about #3, having never heard of someone asking someone else to post their picture.
And #11? Looking at that rule in detail, you will see Edelman suggests employees click on tiny breadcrumb links that are at the bottom of many websites.
How about #12? For a company handbook, I get it, but an online handbook? It seems too…silly.
I did enjoy reading the last rule in the document, #17, which I quote, “Don’t be afraid to be yourself. Being professional doesn’t mean you can’t also speak in a human voice.”
Christine Perkett, who I wrote about above, heads up a virtual PR firm based in southeast Massachusetts. She and her colleagues are very active writers and participants on blogs, Facebook, LinkedIn, and other social media tools.
I commend them for their involvement and half-wonder if they have a similar online policy doctrine.
But, by the same token, Christine writes that “PR practitioners don’t take the time to read enough, relate enough or participate enough because of the pressures from clients and agency leaders around billable time.”
If this is true, I’m willing to help. Shoot me a message and I can help you focus on online relationship and reputation building.