A strong contingent of PR professionals from across the state converged on The Metropolitan in Golden Valley for the 2008 Minnesota PRSA Professional Practices Conference, but it was a few “outsiders” – Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn – that dominated the day’s discussion.
Peter Shankman – founder and CEO of The Geek Factory, Inc. and founder of Help a Reporter Out (HARO) – candidly tackled social media and its role in PR, business and society. He argued there are three primary trends that will be the basis for PR, business in general and everyone’s personal lives over the next century:
· Transparency – We’re moving toward a completely transparent world, and audiences prefer now to get their information directly from the source. As social media become more mainstream, this will only increase.
· Relevance – Are you in the places where people get their information, and is your information current?
· Brevity – The attention span of today’s kids: 140 characters. And soon they will be adults, target consumers for just about any kind of business out there.
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Paula Prahl, senior vice president of communications, public affairs and corporate responsibility at Best Buy, gave the morning keynote. She relayed six tips for effective communications today:
1. Know Yourself
2. Don’t Believe Your Own Hype
3. Know Who Cares About You
4. The Era of the Campaign is Dead
5. Stories Have to be Really Real
6. Patience is a Virtue – building familiarity will take time
Breakout Session – Agency Panel
Several area agency leaders discussed how they approach social media and counsel their clients about it. thinks of pitching social media in terms of degrees of separation, “One person can reach millions of people through four to six degrees of separation, so being targeted about your influencers can have a huge impact.”
Matt Kucharski of Padilla Speer Beardsley thinks of social media as another way to build relationships. “Ultimately we’re all in the relationship business, and social media is just another way to build those relationships.”
Also, the subject of unfavorable social media posts was discussed by the panel. As Lisa Hannum of Beehive PR said, “The first step in resolving negative blogs is listening…if you hear a factual error, then you respond in the correct way with the best information. If it’s unkind/unfavorable, then listen to it and learn from it. We don’t get to control the message anymore, and the sooner we can help convince executives of that, the better off we are.”
Other panelists were Keith Negrin of Morsekode and Maria Reitan of Carmichael Lynch Spong.
Breakout Session – Media Panel
Three of the Twin Cities’ top news minds assembled for a panel on how to work with the media today, and the status of the media in today’s economy. Surprise, surprise…social media factored into this discussion as well. Among the musings:
Mike Caputa, WCCO-TV: “Three-quarters of all TVs on in the market at 10 p.m. are watching local news, so we still have to do a good job of covering the news.”
Joel Kramer, MinnPost.com: “One of the things I’m most worried about is the future of local/state investigative journalism.”
J. Keith Moyer, formerly of the Star Tribune: “Don’t just contact a reporter when you want something. Build a bank of goodwill.”
For more photos and attendee video interviews from the Professional Practices Conference, visit the Minnesota PRSA Web site