Thursday, October 11, 2007

Social Media 101

My colleague Niall has been live-blogging the conference all morning, but now it's his turn to stand up (along with James Gregson and Peter Imbres) and give us all an update on our collectively-agreed social media principles, which have now been approved without changes by our legal counsel. Thanks largely to his approach to this matter, H&K is recognised as a leader in the field.

The use of social media within the organisation remains a fundamentally political issue and it is my own view that any set of collective principles should, as far as possible, permit the basic polarities to survive, just as within our democracies we allow lefties and righties to sit in the same chamber, provided that they continue to pay heed to some fundamental code of conduct.

Niall went on to explain how we, as paid communications professionals, ought to approach perceived inaccuracies on Wikipedia. Rather than immediately proceeding to make edits ourselves, we should try instead to interact with the article-in-question's editors, pointing them to references which back up our complaint, and maybe also suggesting a time-frame for them to make changes to the article. After this we might feel we had permission to make the edits, but he added that one of the problems that we still face is that the guidelines on article mods published by Wikipedia are themselves subject to community-based editing.

Niall pinpointed the three most common, and invariably tricky, questions that our clients ask us about blogs:
  • Should our CEO write one?
  • Who are the most influential bloggers on topic X?
  • One of these blogger people has said something negative about us; how should we respond?
Our own presentation tomorrow will return to the clearly recurring topic of why engaging with bloggers is fundamentally different to traditional media relations. Paul Gillin mentioned the less predictable motivations of bloggers this morning. Niall has just added that bloggers are far more likely than mainstream journalists to tell the world when you misjudge your pitch to them. The key learning here is that, on a campaign by campaign basis, communications professionals need to invest the time to establish whether a particular blogger is an appropriate subject for outreach.

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